The producer of such socially conscious TV movies as Bill with Mickey Rooney and stunning prot0-reality series including That’s Incredible! died August 14 in Beverly Hills. Alan Landsburg was 81. He produced more than 50 TV films and 2,000-plus hours of television during his career Along with David Wolper, Landsburg was one of the early pioneers of TV documentaries. His film Kennedy, The First Thousand Days played at the 1964 Democratic Convention. In addition, Landsburg was behind such monumental TV docu series as Biography with Mike Wallace during the 1960s (for which he wrote/directed and produced 65 episodes), The World Of Jacques Cousteau (exec produced the first season) and paranormal series In Search Of… hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Landsburg received a Documentary Feature Oscar nomination in 1972 for Alaska Wilderness Lake. In 1980, Landsburg hatched the pivotal reality TV series That’s Incredible! — hosted by Cathy Lee Crosby, John Davidson and Fran Tarkenton — which profiled stunning human and animal feats.
The TV movies Landsburg shepherded often were based on true stories and centered around a socially conscious theme. Bill (1981), which won Rooney an Emmy, told the story of Bill Sackter, who after being institutionalized since age 7, aims to re-enter society 45 years later. Landsburg also executive produced The Ryan White Story (1989) about the 13-year-old from Indiana who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, as well as the 1980 telefilm The Jayne Mansfield Story starring Loni Anderson in the title role and Arnold Schwarzenegger as her husband, 1955 Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. Throughout his career, Landsburg received five Emmy nominations, but it was with his final nom that he finally won, for exec producing the Rod Serling-scripted, Robert Wise-directed 1970 TV film A Storm In Summer. Landsburg also executive produced two feature franchise films released in 1983: Porky’s II: The Next Day and Jaws 3-D.
Born May 10, 1933, in White Plains, NY, Landsburg graduated from New York University with a degree in communications, Landsburg before being drafted into the Korean War. It was there that his 50-year career in film and TV began when he started work for the Army Radio Network. Upon retiring from producing in 2001, Landsburg switched to his second love in life: horse racing. He owned, raced and bred 400-plus thoroughbreds since 1976, serving on a number of related boards for the sport including founding director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, commissioner and chairman of the California Horse Racing Board and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors.