Famous American Screenwriter William Link Dies At 87

Prolific American television writer and producer, William Link, co-creator of classic television series such as Columbo and Murder She Wrote among others, died on December 27 from congestive heart failure in Los Angeles at 87. His wife, Margery Nelson, told Deadline.com. 

Link was born in Elkins Park, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, on December 15, 1933.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, Link was best known for his collaboration with the late Richard Levinson. The two – who first met at the age of 14 and began collaborating almost immediately on stories, radio scripts, and dramas – saw television’s potential to capture the current scene and contribute to the national discussion about such subjects as race relations, student unrest, and gun violence.

Co-created by Link and Levinson, Columbo, starring Peter Falk as LAPD homicide detective,  aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978. The character and show popularized the inverted detective story format, which begins by showing the commission of the crime and its perpetrator.

Steven Spielberg, who directed the first episode of Columbo in 1971, “Murder by the Book”, shared a personal remembrance of Link.

“Bill’s truly good nature always inspired me to do good work for a man who, along with Dick Levinson, was a huge part of what became my own personal film school on the Universal lot. Bill was one of my favourite and most patient teachers and, more than anything, I learned so much from him about the true anatomy of a plot.

“I caught a huge break when Bill and Dick trusted a young, inexperienced director to do the first episode of Columbo. That job helped convince the studio to let me do Duel, and with all that followed I owe Bill so very, very much. My thoughts are with Margery and his entire family,” Spielberg said in a statement. 

With Levinson and Peter S. Fischer, Link created Murder, She Wrote, which made its network debut in 1984. The series, starring Angela Lansbury, followed mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher, who lives in Cabot Cove, Maine, but solves crimes wherever she travels. Although network executives weren’t keen on a show with no sex, little violence, and a female protagonist of a certain age, the series was hugely popular and ran for 12 years.

Other television series created by Link and Levinson include Jericho (1965), Mannix (1967), Tenafly (1973, one of the first TV shows featuring an African American lead), Ellery Queen (1975), and Blacke’s Magic (1986).


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.