John Falsey, the co-creator with Joshua Brand of the groundbreaking St. Elsewhere, Northern Exposure, I’ll Fly Away, and writer of other classics of the 1980s and ’90s, died Jan. 3 in Iowa City, Iowa. He was 67.
Falsey’s death was announced to The New York Times by brother James Falsey, who said the cause of death was complications of a head injury sustained in a fall at home.
Nominated for 11 Emmy Awards, Falsey shared three wins with Brand, the first in 1987 for A Year in the Life, which won the outstanding mini-series trophy. The second and third followed in 1992, when Northern Exposure was named outstanding dramatic series and I’ll Fly Away took the best writing award for its pilot episode.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Falsey was a story editor for CBS’ The White Shadow starring Ken Howard; Brand was a writer on the show. After that show ended, Brand sold the idea for what would become St. Elsewhere, recruiting Falsey as a partner (John Masius also is credited as a creator).
Though the duo didn’t stay with the NBC show for its entire 1982-88 run, they’d already made their impact on TV history: the hospital drama proved hugely influential, both in its mixture of often heartbreaking drama, controversial subject matter and sometimes wacky humor (in one famous episode, guest star Betty White, playing a Naval officer, was mistaken for her Mary Tyler Moore Show character Sue Ann Nivens).
In addition to St. Elsewhere, I’ll Fly Away, Northern Exposure and A Year in the Life, Falsey and Brand created (with Steven Spielberg) Amazing Stories (1985-87) and the 1992-93 Going to Extremes. Falsey was a consulting producer on 1999-2002 drama Providence.
Falsey was set as an executive producer – along with Brand, Rob Morrow and Ben Silverman – on a planned revival of Northern Exposure, being written by Brand. The project was confirmed in November, with original series star Morrow set to reprise his role. Actor John Corbett, from the original series, produces, and Universal TV is the studio.
James Falsey told The New York Times that his brother retired to Iowa five years ago, and had been writing short stories and a novella since leaving television. Falsey is survived by wife Julie, and a daughter and son from a first marriage.