Richard Lindheim, Co-Creator of CBS' 'The Equalizer,' Dies at 81

Richard Lindheim
Courtesy of the Lindheim family

Richard Lindheim

In a career spanning four decades, the veteran television executive also produced the NBC comedy 'B.J. and the Bear.'

Richard Lindheim, the co-creator of the 1985 CBS series The Equalizer, has died. He was 81.

The veteran television executive died Monday morning of heart failure, his son-in-law Ezra Dweck told The Hollywood Reporter. 

Lindheim had a four-decade-long career in television, taking in stints at CBS, NBC, Universal and Paramount, but is most closely associated with The Equalizer which has spawned a film series starring Denzel Washington and an upcoming TV reboot on CBS starring Queen Latifah.

The Equalizer, which Lindheilm co-created with Michael Sloan, debuted on CBS in September 1985. The crime drama starred British actor Edward Woodward as a well-dressed, Jaguar-driving former intelligence officer who offered his specialist services to people in distress. The series ran for four seasons, ending in August 1989.

He was an executive producer on Sony's The Equalizer, a loose 2014 movie adaptation and its 2018 sequel, as well as the television reboot which draws from the movie franchise for inspiration and bows on Feb. 7.

Linheim also co-produced and wrote for the NBC comedy series B.J and the Bear, which ran for three seasons from 1979 to 1981. The series, part of the late-70's trucker craze, featured a truck driver (Greg Evigan) and his pet chimp Bear traveling around the country helping people.

In the 1990s, he moved away from producing to focus on implementing nascent digital technology in the television industry. He was evp at Paramount's television unit, where he helped establish Paramount Digital Entertainment. He also co-founded RL Leaders, a technological solutions consultancy.

Lindheim was named an executive director of the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC in 1999 and spent many years mentoring people in the industry. "He spent his entire career elevating others and trying to give people opportunities," Dweck told THR. "He mentored a lot of people."

Lindheim is survived by his wife, daughter, son and two grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, his family has requested a donation to Sierra Club or to a charity of their choice.