Leonard Goldberg, a former president of 20th Century Fox and Head of Programming at ABC whose numerous producer credits include creating Charlie’s Angels and Blue Bloods, along with such shows as T.J. Hooker, Family and Fantasy Island and many other TV show and movies, has died. He was 85. The Emmy winner died from injuries resulting from a fall December 4, his publicist told Deadline.
In partnership with Aaron Spelling, Goldberg was behind a string of hit TV series including Charlie’s Angels, Hart to Hart, The Rookies, Starsky & Hutch, Fantasy Island, Family and S.W.A.T. He won the NAACP Image Award for Television Producer of the Year for LAPD drama The Rookies.
Classic ABC series that bowed during his tenure include The Mod Squad, That Girl and Marcus Welby, M.D. He also was a pioneer of the made-for-TV format in the 1970s.
“Television will always be here,” Goldberg said in a 2004 interview for the Television Academy Foundation. “It is the most powerful medium I’ve known of since the first time I saw it and why I switched from advertising to television. And when it’s used for all of its good, it’s fabulous.” Watch a clip of his talking about creating and casting Charlie’s Angels in the interview here:
Goldberg also produced many feature films, including Charlie’s Angels (2000) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) and had an EP credits on this year’s Charlie’s Angels reboot from Elizabeth Banks. Other feature credits include Unknown (2011), Double Jeopardy (1999), The Distinguished Gentleman (1992), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), SpaceCamp (1986), WarGames (1983), All Night Long (1981) and Little League comedy sequel The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977).
The many 20th Century Fox hits released during his run as president include Broadcast News, Big, Die Hard, Wall Street and Working Girl.
“Unlike the engineer who builds a bridge to span a specific space or the lawyer who deals with the finite laws of our society,” Goldberg once said, “we, in the entertainment industry provide only flickering images on a television or movie screen. All we are bound by is our imagination, our creativity and our passion.”
Goldberg shared three Outstanding Drama Series Emmy noms for Family, which aired on ABC from 1976-80, and won an Emmy for the drama special Something About Amelia in 1984. He received a motion picture Showmanship Award from the Publicists Guild in 1984, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two years later and was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2007.
Born on January 24, 1934, in New York, Goldberg began his broadcasting career with ABC’s research department. He moved over to NBC a year later, advancing to the position of Supervisor of Special Projects. He then joined Batten, Barton, Durstine Osborne Advertising but returned to the ABC Network as Director of New York Program Development, and quickly rose to become VP Daytime Programming.
During his tenure at ABC Daytime, Goldberg introduced such memorable shows as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and Dark Shadows. A year later, he was named Head of All Programming for ABC, a position he held for the next three years. It was during this period that he developed and introduced the new primetime format — Movies Made Directly for Television — which immediately became a favorite with viewers everywhere and which still provides some of the medium’s most innovative and stimulating shows. Among those ABC telefilms with John Travolta starrer The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
Under the aegis of his Mandy Films, Goldberg produced Something About Amelia, the 1984 ABC telefilm starring Glenn Close and Ted Danson. The highest-rated two-hour movie of its season, and one of the highest-rated ever for television, it reached as many as 70 million viewers. Amelia was internationally acclaimed for the frank and sensitive handling of the subject of incest.
From 2007 to 2018, Goldberg served on the CBS Board of Directors.
He is survived by his wife Wendy Howard Goldberg, daughter Amanda Goldberg Raskind, sons Richard Mirisch and John Mirisch, their spouses and five grandchildren.
Denise Petski contributed to this report.