William Blinn, the creator of iconic TV shows such as Starsky & Hutch and Eight Is Enough, has died at the age of 83. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Blinn's daughter, Anneliese Johnson, confirmed to the outlet that Blinn died of natural causes on Thursday. He had been living in an assisted living community in Burbank, California at the time of his death.
In addition to his work on the aforementioned classic series, Blinn also worked on shows like Bonanza, Roots and Fame. Regarding his work on the latter, in 2004 Blinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "One of the things we took some pride in [with that show] was integrating the musical numbers in with the story." The two-time Emmy winner was not limited to television, however, as he was a co-writer of the 1984 Prince film Purple Rain. Recalling his first meeting with the legendary musician, Blinn previously shared that he wasn't sure how he was going to make the proposed story work, until he heard "When Doves Cry."
"He played the song for me, and he had the speaker system from heaven. Who knows how many speakers were in that car?" Blinn recalled. Prince had written the song specifically for the movie. "For someone my age, I like rock music, but I don't like a lot of it. Nevertheless, [the song] was melodic and played with great intensity. I said, 'Man, you've certainly got a foundation. This can pay off at the end.'"
Another big project for Blinn was the TV film Brian's Song, with starred Billy Dee Williams and James Caan. The film was based on the 1970 autobiography I Am Third by Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (Williams). It told the true story of Sayer's friendship with Brian Piccolo (Caan), who was diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after joining the NFL. Notably, it was actually Blinn who thought up the film title.
"I just got assigned Brian's Song," Blinn during a 2005 interview for the TV Academy Foundation website. "I was one of the guys, I had done The Interns, and Len [producer Leonard Goldberg] liked my writing. Another terrific writer … got some sorority-house horror premise, and I got Brian's Song. Go figure." The film was a major success, as it was watched by 55 million homes when it first aired. This was half the number of families who owned televisions at the time.
"I can't tell you how many times guys have said to me, 'It's the first time I cried around other guys,'" Blinn said. "Manipulative? Yes, sure it is. Sentimental? Yes, sure it is. So what." The project earned Blinn both an Emmy and a Peabody Award.