Edward J. Lakso, a prolific writer, producer, composer and lyricist in Hollywood for almost four decades, died May 23 at his Beverly Hills home of complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.
Lakso created more than 400 hours of television and mentored the likes of Gene Levitt, E. Jack Neuman and Aaron Spelling. For the ABC series “Charlie’s Angels,” which ran 1976-81, Lakso wrote 25 episodes, produced 28 and wrote music for two.
His wife, Lee Travis, said Lakso passed away as a recording of Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” played. Lakso got to know Martin when he guest starred on the 1978 season-opener of “Charlie’s Angels.”
Lakso also penned 33 episodes of 1960s series “Combat!” and wrote for “The Rockford Files,” “Star Trek,” “Adventures in Paradise,” “Mannix,” “The Rat Patrol” and “The Big Valley” among many other shows.
Lakso, who sang opera and played jazz piano, wrote, directed and composed music for “43: The Richard Petty Story,” a 1974 film that starred the stock car driver as himself.
Lakso’s career gained momentum with “The Immoral Mr. Teas” (1959), a witty romp that he wrote with director and soft porn king Russ Meyer. Lakso contributed original music and songs for that film.
Prodded by a teacher at UCLA, Lakso wrote a script for the 1959 film “Operation Dames,” then took a role when one of the actors was a no-show. He also wrote and directed 1973’s “Brother on the Run” (also known as “Boots Turner”), an early blaxploitation film.
Lakso and orchestra leader Tommy Oliver wrote, produced and directed “Watergate: A Musical,” starring Gene Barry as Richard Nixon, for the Alliance Theater in Atlanta in 1982.