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Stephen J. Cannell, prolific TV producer, dies

October 1, 2010 | 11:45 am

  Cannell

Stephen J. Cannell, bestselling novelist and Emmy-winning TV producer of hits like "The Rockford Files" and "21 Jump Street," died at his Pasadena home of complications of melanoma on Thursday. He was 69.

Cannell's family released the following statement about the producer who wrote for iconic series including "Adam-12," "Mission: Impossible" and "It Takes a Thief" before founding a company that churned out classic action adventure series "The A-Team," "The Greatest American Hero" and a string of other franchises:

"Aside from being a legendary television producer and prolific writer, Stephen was also a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, and a loyal friend. Mr. Cannell is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 46 years, Marcia, their three children, Tawnia, Chelsea and Cody and three grandchildren. Stephen was a pillar of strength within his family and he touched everyone he met. He will be most deeply missed."

Cannell, who famously wrote scripts on an old IBM Selectric typewriter, told Success magazine recently that he'd been getting up at 4 a.m. for 40 years to write and that he never tired of the process, even though he'd battled dyslexia as a youngster. (He employed what he called "a mop and pail crew" to clean up his prose.)

"One of my work ethic traits comes from the fact that I absolutely love what I do. I've never felt that writing was work," he told the publication. "I get up every morning, and I'm not going to work, I'm going to play. I get to play cops and robbers."

His latest novel, "The Prostitutes' Ball," the 10th in the Shane Scully series, is set for publication Oct. 12.

There's already a fan outpouring of affection and condolences on Cannell's Facebook page, with one commenter writing, "your creativity and imagination helped mold my childhood and influenced me as a burgeoning writer."

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the International Dyslexia Assn., the family said, with details about a memorial service still to come.

-- T.L. Stanley

 Photo: Stephen J. Cannell in 2000. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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