Steven Bochco, a writer and producer known for creating the groundbreaking police drama Hill Street Blues, died on Sunday. He was 74. A family spokesman says Bochco died in his sleep after a battle with cancer. Bochco, who won 10 Emmy awards, created several hit television shows including LA Law, NYPD Blue and Doogie Howser, MD. Bochco grew up in Manhattan, the son of a painter and a concert violinist. On arriving in Los Angeles after college, he wrote for several series at Universal Studios. Then he got a big break: writing the screenplay for the 1972 sci-fi film Silent Running.
Premiering in January 1981, Hill Street Blues challenged, even confounded the meager audience that sampled it. Then, on a wave of critical acclaim, the series began to click with viewers, while scoring a history-making 27 Emmy nominations its first year. During its seven-season run, it won 26 Emmys and launched Bochco on a course that led to dozens of series and earned him four Peabody awards, in addition to the 10 Emmys. Bochco moved to 20th Century Fox where he co-created and produced L.A. Law (1986–1994) which aired on NBC. This series was also widely acclaimed and a regular award winner and achieved far higher ratings success than Hill Street Blues had enjoyed.
In 1987, Bochco co-created the half-hour dramedy Hooperman which starred John Ritter but was canceled after two seasons, despite Bochco offering to take over direct day-to-day control of a third season. From this deal came Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989–1993) and 1990’s Cop Rock, which combined straight police drama with live-action Broadway singing and dancing. It was one of his highest-profile failures. In 1992, Bochco created an animated television series, Capitol Critters, along with Nat Mauldin and Michael Wagner. After a lull, Bochco co-created NYPD Blue (1993–2005) with David Milch. Other projects in this period that failed to take off include Murder One (1995–1997), Brooklyn South (1997), City of Angels (2000), Philly (2001), and Over There (2005). All five shows failed to match Bochco’s earlier success though Murder One and Over There garnered critical praise.
From 2014 to its cancellation in 2016, he wrote and executive produced Murder in the First, a series drama which he co-created with Eric Lodal. In 1970, he married actress Barbara Bosson, who appeared as a regular on Hill Street Blues. They had two children before divorcing in 1997. In later years he was married to Dayna Kalins (m. August 12, 2000). His son, Jesse Bochco, by Bosson, was a producer/director on NYPD Blue and directed the pilot episode of Raising the Bar. Bochco was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, requiring a bone marrow transplant later that year.