Bob Christiansen, Emmy-Winning 'Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman' Producer, Dies at 85

Courtesy of Christiansen Family
Bob Christiansen

He also worked on 'Queen of the Stardust Ballroom' and telefilms directed by Nicolas Roeg and Maya Angelou.

Bob Christiansen, an Emmy-winning producer on Cicely Tyson's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman who guided other high-profile telefilms starring Bette Davis, Alan Alda, James Caan and Alfre Woodard, has died. He was 85.

Christiansen died Dec. 4 of complications from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, family friend Joie Gould Gati told The Hollywood Reporter.

He worked in the THR sales department in the 1960s before becoming a producer.

With Rick Rosenberg at Chris/Rose Productions, Christiansen also produced telefilms that included 1972's The Glass House, based on a Truman Capote story and starring Alan Alda; 1975's Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, toplined by Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning; 1979's Stranger: The Story of a Mother and Daughter, featuring Davis and Gena Rowlands; and 1993's Heart of Darkness, starring John Malkovich and Tim Roth and directed by Nicolas Roeg.

For 1974's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Tyson became the first African-American to win a lead actress Emmy when she was honored for her astonishing performance as a woman who ages from 23 to 110 — from the 1850s to the civil rights era. The CBS telefilm raked in nine Emmys in all.

Christiansen and Rosenberg also received producing noms in 1978 for A Death in Canaan, starring Stefanie Powers and directed by Tony Richardson; in 1985 for Robert Kennedy and His Times, starring Brad Davis; and in 1988 for the Gore Vidal miniseries Lincoln, featuring Sam Waterston and Mary Tyler Moore.

The pair also produced 1980's Hide in Plain Sight, starring James Caan; 1986's As Summers Die, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Bette Davis and Scott Glenn; 1989's The Heist, featuring Pierce Brosnan and Tom Skerritt; 1998's Down in the Delta, starring Woodard and Wesley Snipes and directed by Maya Angelou; and 2008's Accidental Friendship, starring Chandra Wilson. 

Chris/Rose projects received more than 40 Emmy noms, and their 2000 telefilm The Crossing, starring Jeff Daniels, won a Peabody Award.

Born on Oct. 24, 1933, in Porterville, California, Christiansen served with the U.S. Marines before coming to Los Angeles in the '60s. Chris/Rose's first effort was the 1970 feature Adam at 6 A.M., which starred Michael Douglas and was executive produced by Steve McQueen.

Survivors include his wife, Sandy; children Mark, Julie and Tim; daughter-in-law Barbara; and grandchildren Mason and Sadie.