Glen A. Larson, one of the most prolific creators in the history of television, has died from esophageal cancer. He was 77.
Larson is best known as the creator of some of the biggest and most well-known TV hits of the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I., Quincy M.E., and Knight Rider. Were it not for Larson’s desire to settle down with his wife and kids, though, he might be better remembered these days as one of the singers for the pop group The Four Preps. That’s how Larson got his start in show business, but in the mid-’60s, he wrote an episode of It Takes A Thief and then eventually became a producer on the series. From there, Larson created his first show, ABC’s Alias Smith And Jones, and he co-created Quincy M.E. with Lou Shaw. Larson reportedly did not get long with star Jack Klugman, though, and left Quincy early in its run.
Next, Larson created Battlestar Galactica, a series that may have started as a pretty blatant cash-in on the popularity of Star Wars, but would go on to become a big cult-hit in its own right. Battlestar Galactica eventually spawned a highly popular rebooted version for Syfy, which officially cemented the original as a TV classic—even if the outlandish cost to make each episode kept it from lasting over one season. After Galactica, Larson co-created Magnum, P.I., the show that made Tom Selleck, Ferraris, and mustaches the coolest things of the ‘80s. Larson would keep his finger on the pulse of things that were cool in the ‘80s with Knight Rider, a show about David Hasselhoff fighting crime with a high-tech Trans-Am that could talk. It was, obviously, awesome.
Larson was also a bit of a controversial figure in the TV world, having faced many accusations that his shows were ripoffs of popular movies. Larson, however, refused to give weight to these criticisms, instead arguing—according to The Hollywood Reporter—that he was just giving people what they want, and that the networks are just more interested in ideas that are similar to things that the audience already likes. If the rebooted Battlestar Galactica and the many attempts to bring back Knight Rider are anything to go by, he was certainly on to something.
Here’s the intro for Knight Rider, which Larson composed the music for: