The creator of Galactica, Knight Rider, and the rest of your television childhood has left us. [LINK]
Larson, a singer in the 1950s clean-cut pop group The Four Preps who went on to compose many of the theme songs for his TV shows, died Friday night of esophageal cancer at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, his son, James, told The Hollywood Reporter.
After ABC spurned the original pilot for The Six Million Dollar Man (based on the 1972 novel Cyborg), Larson rewrote it, then penned a pair of 90-minute telefilms that convinced then-network executive Barry Diller to greenlight the action series, which starred Lee Majors as a former astronaut supercharged with bionic implants.
Other shows Larson created included Alias Smith & Jones, B.J. and The Bear, Switch (another series with Wagner), Manimal and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. He spent his early career at Universal Studios, inventing new shows and reworking others, before moving to 20th Century Fox in 1980 with a multiseries, multimillion-dollar deal.
If you’re counting, Quincy, Magnum, Knight Rider and Fall Guy accounted for 513 hours of television and 21 combined seasons from 1976-88.
During a 2009 interview with the Archive of American Television, Larson was asked how he could possibly keep up with such a workload.
“I tried to stay with things until I thought they were on their feet and they learned to walk and talk,” he said.
He’s occasionally been dogged by charges of plagiarism on some of his “created by” credits, but it’s nigh-impossible to argue against the man’s track record of pairing the right producers, writers and cast with the right show. Is there anyone operating in the realm of dramatic TV like him today?
Jeez, I wasn’t aware he had such a gargantuan library of shows under his belt. Man, looking at his IMDB page was kind of a shock, considering how many of those shows I’ve watched in my lifetime. I knew he was a musician, though, since he created the memorable orchestral theme music for Battlestar Galactica.