LOS ANGELES — Fred Silverman, an award-winning TV producer, programming executive and showrunner who guided “L.A. Law” and “Taxi” and worked at ABC’s three major networks in more than two decades, has died. He was 82.
Silverman died Friday at his home in Los Angeles, his wife, Jo Nesbo Silverman, told The Associated Press. She said he had leukemia and had recently taken an unexpected turn for the worse.
Silverman made his mark as a top showrunner, with credits at NBC, CBS and ABC that ranged from “All in the Family” to “St. Elsewhere” to “Frasier” and “Will & Grace.” He created shows with the late Garry Marshall.
But he was most identified with the 1970s and 1980s era of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which earned him an Emmy as writer-producer in 1977, a comedy-drama co-starring Moore and which ran for seven seasons.
An executive producer, Silverman left in 1980 to create “Wonder Years,” which ran for three seasons on ABC, and he then left for CBS, where he started with a short-lived sitcom, “The Odd Couple.”
Although he noted after his last project, 2000’s “Witches of East End,” had less success than the Mary Tyler Moore show, Silverman said in 2012 that it was worth it. “Everybody from the minute they heard about ‘WOMEN’ burst into tears of joy,” he said.
Silverman also was creative consultant for the event drama “Northern Exposure,” which began on NBC and ended on CBS, and was a producer for the series “Murder, She Wrote,” starring Angela Lansbury.
The silver-haired Silverman even got the chance to make a short-lived movie, “Temptation Island,” in 2003. But he suffered other setbacks, notably a series of canceled ABC sitcoms, including “The Hughleys,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Home Improvement” and “Coupling.” He was named NBC’s executive producer of comedy specials.
“Fred was a genuine original, whose originality helped redefine the television landscape and entertain millions of fans the world over,” said Neal Shapiro, president of NBC Universal Television Entertainment Group.
Silverman left the TV industry in 2004 but continued in media consulting. He also began work in 2011 on the film “I Dreamed of Africa,” based on the 2006 nonfiction book of the same name by its author, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Born Frederick Silverman in New York City on Oct. 28, 1936, he graduated from Bryant College in New York, then studied at Columbia University and Boston University. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, he worked on Wall Street for a few years before becoming an entertainment executive.
He and his wife have a son, George, a daughter, Sophie, and two grandchildren.