Monday, September 11, 2006

The 5th Anniversary of the Deaths of David and Lynn Angell

Today it has been five years since the attack on the World Trade Centre. Since that time there has been an unfortunate tendency to focus on who was responsible, who was to blame, various conspiracy theories, and not nearly enough written or said about those people who died in the attack. For myself, however, there was one name among the victims whose death brought the attack on the Trade Centre home for me. Among the many victims was David Angell and his wife Lynn.

I did not know Mr. Angell, nor his wife. I never met him nor corresponded with him. I did, however, recognise his name. It was familiar to me as one of the creators of the hit comedies Wings and Frasier. He was 55 when he was murdered.

Angell was born in West Barrington, Rhode Island on April 10 1946. He graduated from Providence College with a degree in English Literature. Following graudation, he entered the Army where he served for several years. Following his years in the army, Angell worked as a methods analyst for an engineering firm and later he worked for an insurance company. His first script was sold in 1977 to the TV series Annie Flynn (a short lived CBS sitcom which aired in June 1978). Two years later he would sell a script to Archie Bunker's Place (a continuation of All in the Family).

It was in 1983 that he joined the writing staff of Cheers. By 1985 he was a supervising producer on Cheers, alongside Peter Casey and David Lee. Together the three of them would form Grub Street Productions. As a team they created and produce the sitcom Wings, which debuted on NBC in 1990. They would go onto create the Cheers spinoff and hit sitcom Frasier. Angell was one of the producers on Frasier until his untimely death. Angell and Casey would also develop the short lived series The Pursuit of Happiness, which aired in 1995.

During his career Angell amassed several awards. He won a Golden Globe and a Peabody. He was nominated for an Emmy 37 times. He won 24 Emmys.

Of course, one cannot talk about David Angell without mentioning his soulmate, Lynn Edwards Angell. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama on August 11, 1949. She attended Auburn University. She met David Angell in Cape Cod and the two were married on August 14th, 1971. For many years she worked as a librarian, supporting the couple through the lean years when her husband was trying to break into television writing. She also typed all of his scripts for television. In a statement issued at the time of Mrs. Angell's death, Mr. Angell's partners Casey and Lee described her as epitomising Southern graciousness and charm.

David and Lynn Angell were returning to Los Angeles from Chatham, Massachusetts, where they had attended a wedding, when they boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston. Flight 11 was the first of the planes to crash into World Trade Centre, hitting the North Tower at 8:46 AM EDT. There were no survivors.

As I said earlier, I did not know David Angell or his wife Lynn. Nonetheless, their deaths helped put a human face on the attacks on the World Trade Centre for me. Over the years I had seen Mr. Angell's name repeatedly on television credits. I had seen him in interviews and read interviews with him. I had seen him on the Emmy Awards. More importantly, he was one of the creators of my favourite sitcom from the Nineties, Frasier. Ultimately, David and Lynn Angell were no more or less important than the other victims of the 9/11 attacks, but my familiarity with David Angell's works made the attacks all too real for me. Regardless, the Angells will long be remembered for their contributions to the world and the field of television.

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