James Schmerer, Writer on 'MacGyver,' 'CHiPs' and 'The High Chaparral,' Dies at 81

Television Writer James Schmerer - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy WGA West

He started his career with documentary producer David Wolper.

James Schmerer, a TV writer and producer with credits including MacGyverCHiPsThe High Chaparral and Mannix, died Oct. 4 of stroke complications at his home in Eugene, Oregon, the WGA West announced. He was 81.

Schmerer produced 43 episodes of The High Chaparral, an NBC Western that starred Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell and aired from 1967-71, and wrote a couple as well. 

The Queens native penned nine installments of CHiPs, six of MacGyver and three of Vegas and wrote for Medical CenterMod Squad, Star Trek: The Animated SeriesThe Streets of San FranciscoThe RookiesFantasy IslandThe Six Million Dollar Man and Starsky and Hutch, among other series.

In the early 1960s, Schmerer worked as an editor on the syndicated Biography and as a producer on the NBC documentary series Hollywood and the Stars, both from iconic TV producer David Wolper.

Survivors include his daughter, Pamela, and her husband, Damon. A celebration of life is set for 3 p.m. on Nov. 2 in Eugene (contact pschmerer@gmail.com for more information). Donations in his name may be made to the Oregon Humane Society.