William Hyperlink, Co-Creator of ‘Columbo’ and ‘Homicide, She Wrote,’ Dies at 87
William Hyperlink, a prolific screenwriter who created classics of American tv like “Columbo” and “Homicide, She Wrote,” doing so in a writing partnership with a buddy from junior highschool that lasted practically 40 years, died on Dec. 27 in Los Angeles. He was 87.
His spouse, Margery Nelson, confirmed the dying, at a hospital.
Mr. Hyperlink’s tales about unkempt detectives and chronic non-public eyes formed the thriller and crime-drama tv style. Together with his accomplice, Richard Levinson, he additionally created exhibits like “Mannix,” “Jericho” and “Blacke’s Magic.”
“Homicide, She Wrote” starred Angela Lansbury as a thriller author who solves crimes within the fictional Maine city of Cabot Cove. Community executives have been initially skeptical of the concept of a feminine protagonist who wears studying glasses.
However after they have been offered on it, the sequence turned one of many longest-running in tv historical past and stays in syndication right now. (Peter S. Fischer was additionally credited as a creator.)
One other Hyperlink-Levinson manufacturing, “Tenafly,” starring James McEachin, was one of many first detective sequence to characteristic a Black lead actor.
Their tv motion pictures additionally broke floor: “That Sure Summer time” (1972), a drama that generated large publicity, starred Martin Sheen as a divorced father who struggles to disclose his homosexuality to his 14-year-old son. “My Candy Charlie” (1970), tailored from a novel and play by David Westheimer, depicted the friendship that types between a Black New York lawyer (Al Freeman Jr.), who’s falsely accused of homicide, and a white pregnant teenager (Patty Duke), whom he encounters whereas on the run in Texas. The film introduced Mr. Hyperlink and Mr. Levinson an Emmy Award for excellent writing in a drama.
“Every day out, we tried to do one thing that hadn’t been seen earlier than,” Mr. Hyperlink informed Gadget Clock in 1987. “One thing that will contact an emotional or social chord.”
He met Mr. Levinson in junior highschool in Philadelphia in 1946. After discovering that they each appreciated detective tales, they hit it off. “I used to be informed to discover a tall man who appreciated to do magic and skim mysteries,” Mr. Hyperlink informed The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1987, “and he was informed, ‘There’s a brief man who reads mysteries and does magic.’”
They started writing radio scripts and tales collectively as they mentioned their mutual admiration of the director Billy Wilder. After commencement, they each attended the Wharton enterprise faculty on the College of Pennsylvania.
They offered their first quick story, to Ellery Queen’s Thriller Journal, in 1954. When Mr. Hyperlink was drafted into the Military and despatched to Germany within the late Fifties, they continued collaborating on tales by airmail. Within the Sixties, they determined to attempt their luck in Hollywood.
As they began writing episodes for exhibits like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Fugitive” and creating their very own, like “Mannix,” they turned a prolific unit: rising early, brewing espresso and pounding out scripts to ship to studios. (Mr. Hyperlink paced whereas Mr. Levinson typed.)
They first introduced the scruffy Lieutenant Columbo to life in a 1960 episode of the anthology sequence “The Chevy Thriller Present.” He appeared once more in a play by Mr. Hyperlink and Mr. Levinson and later in a tv film they wrote, “Prescription: Homicide.” The “Columbo” sequence, starring Peter Falk, started airing on NBC in 1971 and ran till 1978. The pair gained an Emmy for his or her work, and the present was later revived on ABC.
The primary episode of the “Columbo” sequence, titled “Homicide by the Ebook,” was directed by a 25-year-old Steven Spielberg. (In it, one member of a thriller writing crew kills the opposite.)
“Invoice was one in all my favourite and most affected person academics, and, greater than something, I realized a lot from him in regards to the true anatomy of a plot,” Mr. Spielberg mentioned in a press release. “I caught an enormous break when Invoice and Dick trusted a younger, inexperienced director to do the primary episode of ‘Columbo.’”
William Theodore Hyperlink Jr. was born on Dec. 15, 1933, in Philadelphia and was raised in Elkins Park, a suburb. His mom, Elise (Rorecke) Hyperlink, was a homemaker. William Sr. was a textile dealer who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen.
Invoice loved drawing comedian strips and commenced writing quick thriller tales whereas nonetheless a boy. He and his Cub Scout buddies recited his tales right into a wire recorder and acted them out as in the event that they have been performs.
“He beloved studying Selection as a boy,” Ms. Nelson, his spouse and solely fast survivor, mentioned. “In Los Angeles, infants come out of the womb studying Selection, however he was most likely the one child in Philly studying Selection frequently within the Nineteen Forties.”
Mr. Hyperlink graduated from Cheltenham Excessive Faculty within the early Fifties and earned a bachelor’s diploma from Wharton in 1956. He married Ms. Nelson, an actor, in 1980.
Mr. Levinson, who was a three-pack-a-day smoker, died of a coronary heart assault in 1987. Afterward, Mr. Hyperlink skilled author’s block and commenced seeing a psychiatrist to course of the lack of his buddy. The dying led to his writing the tv film “The Boys” (1991), which starred John Lithgow and James Woods as two writers who develop an extended partnership.
“I had by no means written on my own; I had a worry I couldn’t write solo,” Mr. Hyperlink informed The Philadelphia Inquirer that 12 months. “I wrote the entire script in eight days. It often took Dick and me a month. It poured out, like automated writing. I felt like Dick was nonetheless within the room with me.”
Mr. Hyperlink wrote properly into his 80s, waking up early every morning to place phrases onto the web page, and he contributed tales to Ellery Queen’s Thriller Journal. In 2010, he revealed a e-book of unique quick tales about Lieutenant Columbo, bringing his best-known tv character again to life years after the rumpled detective had been retired from the display screen.
In an interview with Thriller Scene Journal on the time, Mr. Hyperlink mirrored on the lasting adoration that folks have for his cigar-chomping creation.
“He’s a daily Joe,” he mentioned. “He’s the form of man you sit down, have a drink, a cup of espresso with. He’s the common working-class man — who’s obtained an excellent thoughts however doesn’t actually tout it, you already know? He’s humble, even to the assassin! And other people establish with that. They like that.”
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