Quadriplegic Actor Jim Troesh Dies at 54

6:58 PM PST 10/07/2011 by Mike Barnes

"Highway to Heaven" actor and writer was industry's advocate for the disabled in Hollywood.

Jim Troesh, a screenwriter, actor and entertainment industry disability advocate, died Oct. 1 at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 54.

Troesh was perhaps best known for his three-season role as a quadriplegic attorney on Highway to Heaven, the 1984-89 Michael Landon NBC drama for which he also wrote.

His screenwriting credits also include the 2006 film Color of the Cross, which he penned with Jean-Claude La Marre and Jean Claude Nelson.

As an active member of the WGA West’s Writers with Disabilities Committee, Troesh was the industry’s lone quadriplegic WGAW-SAG dual member and the first quadriplegic to join the actors union. He also served on the Performers Executive Committee of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, was a former national chairman of AFTRA’s Performers with Disabilities Committee and a former president of the Media Access Office.

”What Jim brought to the disability equation was an irreverent, disarming sense of the absurd. Humor kept him going for 41 years,” said WGAW WDC Committee chair Allen Rucker, who dedicated the 2011 Media Access Awards to Troesh at this year’s ceremony held Thursday.

The Media Access Awards honor projects and artists that improve awareness, promote accessibility and champion accurate representations of the disability experience.

Troesh received the prestigious Michael Landon Award from the Media Access Office and was a recipient of the ABC/Disney Writing Scholarship.

Among his recent projects, Troesh created the TV pilot The Hollywood Quad, a sitcom that he wrote, produced, directed and starred in along with guest star Bryan Cranston. Comically chronicling Troesh’s journey in the industry, he turned the program into a podcast series.

Troesh’s other acting credits include Boston Legal, Special Unit, Notes From the Underground, Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story and Airwolf.

At age 14, Troesh fell off a roof and sustained a spinal injury that left him paralyzed.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 21 in North Hollywood at a location to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Troesh’s name to Total Improv Kids — Jim Troesh Scholarship; c/o Linda Fulton; Avery Schreiber Theatre; 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

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