Patterico's Pontifications


R.I.P. Stephen J. Cannell

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:51 pm

He died Friday, of complications from melanoma, but I just heard about it yesterday. I’ll always think of him as the creator of the Rockford Files — the show where James Garner got punched in the stomach in seemingly every episode, and who constantly reminded clients that he charged $200 a day . . . plus expenses.

I had lunch with Cannell in Long Beach last September — a meeting set up by a mutual friend. Cannell (emphasis on the first syllable!) came across as a very smart guy — and conservative, in a town where that is supposedly a liability. He was a successful novelist, and he was meeting with me because I had some in-depth knowledge concerning a person that he was considering modeling one of his characters after. I will say no more about it than that; I don’t think the book ever came out, and now I guess it never will.

He seemed like he would live another 20-30 years.

Condolences to his family.

19 Responses to “R.I.P. Stephen J. Cannell”

  1. I remember him from the Rockford Files too and how at the end he would pull the piece of paper from the typewriter and it would form his logo. I think 60 Minutes did a profile on him too. He did seem like a different fish in Hollywood.

    To all those under 40 that are unfamiliar with what a typewriter is, there was a time when people had a bitch of time correcting typing mistakes and students paid people to type their term papers. Mike Nesmith’s mom made a fortune inventing white-out for typewriters. And then PCs were invented.

    MU789 (3ed41d)

  2. I have the entire Rockford series on DVD, so I am a fan. Jim Garner is quite the lefty so I guess they had some good chats back in the day. I also dated a lady who was in one of Mr Cannell’s rare mis-step “Sonny Spoon” (which starred Mario Van Peebles) which is how I got to meet him. His prints are all over 80s and 90s TV and he will be missed. RIP

    Gazzer (e12182)

  3. I grew up on all those shows, here’s an article about his part on Adam 12, which was probably the first one of these I watched;

    ian cormac (6709ab)

  4. I loved The Rockford Files. Thanks for what you gave us, Mr. Cannell, and Godspeed

    Some Chump (e84e27)

  5. Ditto.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  6. He also wrote books. I read a couple and they were not bad.

    Some of his shows were contrived (A-Team), but, you know what? He did “The Rockford Files.” I loved that show when I was a kid.

    I’ve watched the reruns and I love it now. And Jim Garner may be a lefty, but in this case, I don’t care.

    Ag80 (93f9d9)

  7. It’s funny because in my head I figured ole Jimbo was prolly a JFK-type Dem that was more of a centrist. Then I discovered he donated to Kucinich in the early 2000’s. Still love him though. Remember the “Support your local Sheriff” series? Classic.

    Gazzer (e12182)

  8. I went to a booksigning by Michael Connelly in Pasadena tonight. He’s got the Harry Bosch series of crime novels. He spoke well of Stephen Cannell–and his willingness to both help and ro get help from other writers in working things out. From a question in the audience it was clear that Connelly had expressed appreciation and admiration for Cannell on several past occasions–his admiration was genuine.

    Connelly has a new Mickey Haller/Harry Bosch novel out called “Reversal”. It looks like it will be a good one.

    Mike Myers (0e06a9)

  9. He was one of the greats. Loved Rockford. Clever, rich in character, and not a serial killer in sight.

    Condolences to the family.

    Patricia (9b018a)

  10. And don’t forget Angel
    “Jimmy, Jimmy…”

    Gazzer (e12182)

  11. To all those under 40 that are unfamiliar with what a typewriter is, there was a time when people had a bitch of time correcting typing mistakes and students paid people to type their term papers. Mike Nesmith’s mom made a fortune inventing white-out for typewriters. And then PCs were invented.

    Comment by MU789 — 10/5/2010 @ 7:02 pm

    After basic training in 1981 I went to Keesler for technical training. The career field I went into required 35 wpm proficiency so the first week was spent listening to tapes and transcribing what we heard on manual typewriters. Instructors kept telling us “Don’t look at the keyboard”. On Monday of the second week we walked into class and found the typewriters had been swapped with ones that had the letters whited out. about one third of the class washed back a week!

    VOR2 (8e6b90)

  12. RIP Stephen. (And $200/day is so quaint. We now live in a 3G World, everything seems to cost $3G!)

    dfbaskwill (ca54bb)

  13. I’m a little surprised to hear he was conservative. I recall someone saying that there were anti-business overtones in the Rockford Files. It seemed like the criminals often were portrayed as corporate types basically indistinguishable from other businessmen. The movie I STILL LOVE L.A. seemed to have a conservative feel to it.

    Gerald A (0843ed)

  14. I don’t know if there’s been a more successful and prolific writer of TV ever, certainly not today. I always found his conquering of severe dyslexia to be one of the more inspiring factors in his life.

    Dmac (84da91)

  15. I’m not conservative and have no idea of Cannell’s politics, but count The Rockford Files as one of my all-time favorites. Always well written and the James Garner persona was a delight to watch. What I remember best about the show was the relationship between Jim and Rocky. One of the best and most enjoyable father-son relationships in network TV history. Kudos to Cannell for creating it.

    Angeleno (196ff8)

  16. He will be missed on Castle. I wonder if they’ll actually mention it in the show. Be great to base an episode around it, since Castle “is” friends with him.

    IgotBupkis (9eeb86)

  17. Comment by VOR2 — 10/6/2010 @ 5:15 am

    Were those the old “Western Union” all-cap typewriters…that’s what I learned to “touch type” on at Goodfellow.

    AD-RtR/OS! (fe9f09)

  18. Comment by AD-RtR/OS! — 10/6/2010 @ 1:14 pm

    No, ours were the throw aways the admin clerks disposed of when they got a new batch in. Were you a comm guy?

    VOR2 (b5e7e7)

  19. Stephen will be missed dearly not just for his writing but for his views of america and his feel good attitude that he brought with him where ever he went. He was a great writer and a great american and my prayers go out to him, his family, and his friends.

    Scott Y (9e9808)

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