Prolific TV writer-producer William Link, co-creator of classic TV series including Columbo, murder she wrote and Ellery Reine, among others, died Sunday, Dec. 27, of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, his wife, Margery Nelson, told Deadline. He was 87 years old.
Link was born in Elkins Park, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, on December 15, 1933.
Over a career spanning more than 60 years, Link was best known for his collaboration with the late Richard Levinson. The two – who first met at the age of 14 and began collaborating almost immediately on stories, radio scripts and dramas – saw the potential of television to capture the current scene and to contribute to the national discussion on topics such as race relations, student unrest and gun violence.
Co-created by Link and Levinson, Columbo, starring Peter Falk as LAPD homicide detective Columbo, aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978. The character and the show popularized the reverse detective story format, which begins by showing the commission of the crime and its perpetrator.
With Levinson and Peter S. Fischer, Link creates The murder she wrote, who made her network debut in 1984. The series, starring Angela Lansbury, followed mysterious novelist Jessica Fletcher, who lives in Cabot Cove, Maine, but solves crimes wherever she travels. Although the executives of the network were not fond of a show without sex, little violence and an older female protagonist, the series was extremely popular and lasted 12 years.
Other TV series created by Link and Levinson include Jericho (1965), Mannix (1967), Tenafly (1973, one of the first television shows to feature an African American actor), Ellery Queen (1975), and Blacke’s magic (1986).