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Michael Gleason, an Emmy-nominated writer and producer who co-created the 1980s NBC detective drama Remington Steele, starring Pierce Brosnan, has died. He was 78.
Gleason, who also worked on Peyton Place, McCloud and Diagnosis Murder, died Friday in Santa Monica, publicist Judith Moose announced.
In 1980, Gleason was approached by Universal Studios executive Stu Erwin to work on Remington Steele. Robert Butler, who had directed episodes of shows including Star Trek and Hill Street Blues, came up with the concept for the series — about a woman who runs a detective agency but has to invent a fictitious male superior, whom she calls Remington Steele, to get clients comfortable enough to sign on.
Butler originally had Steele as nothing more than innuendo, but Gleason thought the character (played by Brosnan) should come to life. That’s how it went, and the series, which also starred Stephanie Zimbalist as agency owner Laura Holt, debuted in October 1982 and ran for five seasons.
A native of Brooklyn, Gleason attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and then moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s with his writing partner, William Blinn. They sold a script for a 1962 episode of the Clint Eastwood series Rawhide, then quickly wrote for other shows like Laramie, My Favorite Martian and The Big Valley.
In 1965, Gleason penned the first of more than 130 episodes of the ABC primetime soap opera Peyton Place. He wrote for the show for five seasons, then worked on The Six Million Dollar Man, Cannon, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Sons and Daughters.
Gleason produced and earned two Emmy nominations for the hit NBC drama McCloud, starring Dennis Weaver, on which he worked alongside fabled producer Glen A. Larson. Shortly after, he wrote and executive produced the 1977 ABC miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man: Book Two.
In 1980, Gleason joined forces with writer William Kayden to form Kayden-Gleason Productions, and they developed movies of the week.
Gleason also wrote and/or produced for such series as Murphy’s Law, Dick Van Dyke’s Diagnosis Murder and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and for a pair of Jack MacShayne telefilms starring Kenny Rogers.
His first novel, Working Dirty, was published in 2013.
Survivors include his wife Jan; children William, Julie, Carol, Jackie, Jessica, Jennifer, Kourtney and Sean; and grandchildren Savannah, Jeffrey, MacKenna, Riley, Celia, Trey and Nicholas.
A memorial service for Gleason will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.
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