Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bruce Lansbury Passes On

Bruce Lansbury, who produced such popular shows as The Wild Wild West; Wonder Woman; and Murder, She Wrote died February 13 2017 at the age of 87. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Bruce Lansbury was born in London on January 12 1930. His twin was Edgar Lansbury, whose career was primarily in the theatre. His parents were actress Moyna Macgill and socialist politician Edgar Lansbury. His older sister was renowned actress Dame Angela Lansbury. At the beginning of World War II, Bruce Lansbury's mother migrated to New York City along with his sister, his brother, and himself. The family settled in Los Angeles in the mid-Forties. Bruce Lansbury served in the United States Army and later graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree.

Mr. Lansbury began his television career at WABC in Los Angeles. He later went to work for CBS in programme development. It was shortly before the show's second season that he joined The Wild Wild West. When the show's creator and executive producer, Michael Garrison died from a fall down the stairs, Bruce Lansbury took over as the show's producer. In all he produced 69 episodes of The Wild Wild West. Afterwards he served as a producer on Mission: Impossible from 1969-1972.

In the late Sixties Bruce Lansbury joined Paramount Television as vice president: creative affairs. He oversaw such shows as The Odd Couple; The Brady Bunch; Love, American Style; Happy Days; and Petrocelli. While at Paramount he created the short-lived mystery series The Magician, starring Bill Bixby. Following his stint at Paramount, Mr. Lansbury served as executive producer on the short-lived fantasy series The Fantastic Journey. He then served as supervising producer on Wonder Woman and later Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

In the Eighties Bruce Lansbury was an executive producer on The Powers of Matthew Star and a supervising producer on Street Hawk (which he also created) and Knight Rider. He wrote episodes of the 1990-1991 series Zorro. From 1992 to 1996 Bruce Lansbury served as a supervising producer on Murder, She Wrote, which starred his sister Dame Angela Lansbury. He also wrote several episodes of the show.

Bruce Lansbury was responsible for producing several hours of memorable television. While his episodes of The Wild Wild West may not be quite as good as those produced under Michael Garrison's watch, the show remained an entertaining series and, unlike many genre shows of the Sixties, never jumped the shark. Wonder Woman remains an enjoyable bit of Seventies, superhero camp. Arguably Mr. Lansbury not only produced but wrote some of the best episodes of Murder, She Wrote. While it did not run very long, I must say that I have very fond memories of The Magician myself.  While the shows Bruce Lansbury produced may not have been Playhouse 90, they were entertaining and generally well done. Indeed, not many producers can boast having produced several shows (The Wild Wild West; Mission: Impossible; Wonder Woman; and Murder, She Wrote) that are still watched years after they first aired.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

For providing many, many hours of entertainment - I introduced my daughter to Wild Wild West last year - I thank Bruce Lansbury.