Stephen J. Cannell was the king of '70s and ’80s action TV, with a list of hit series that includes “The A-Team,” “The Rockford Files,” “Baretta,” “21 Jump Street” and “The Greatest American Hero.”
The son of a wealthy furniture store owner, Cannell managed to overcome severe dyslexia to pursue a career as a writer, first as a journalism major at the University of Oregon and later as a screenwriter after he sold his first script in 1968.
Cannell soon began a prolific career in TV writing, working on such detective shows as “Colombo” and “Adam-12” before moving on to creating his own series.
In 1979, Cannell formed a production company, Stephen J. Cannell Productions. It was known for the tag added to the end of each episode he produced that showed him sitting at a typewriter, pulling out a sheet of paper that transformed into the company logo. The tag was reshot over the years to incorporate the awards Cannell received on shelves in the background.
By his own count, Cannell has written 450 episodes of TV and was the executive producer of more than 1,500 episodes.
In 1996, Cannell sold his production company to New World Communications for $30 million. He also began a second career as a novelist, publishing a novel every year since 1996.
Cannell is married to his high school sweetheart, Marcia. They have two daughters and a son. Another son, Derek, died in 1981 when a sand castle he was building on the beach collapsed on him, suffocating him.