The man behind classics such as Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law, has passed away at age 74. According to reports, he had battling leukemia for several years.
Dating back to the early 80s, Bochco was the mastermind of numerous police and legal series for both ABC and NBC. Working as a writer and producer, he blazed a path for current shows with intricate details, dynamic characters, and crossing previously taboo lines. His show NYPD Blue was one of the first network television shows to feature nudity with individuals engaging in sex.
With over 30 Emmy nominations and 10 wins, Bochco was still looking to make an impact. Bochco’s most recent foray into television included TNT’s crime drama Murder in the First.
The New York native also made headlines in the late 80s for turning down a president role with CBS opting instead to continue making shows for ABC. His thought-provoking topics allowed for compelling drama with ensemble casts that were unprecedented for their time. In an interview for the 2007 book, Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV, Bochco explained his method for pulling it all together:
“When you end up creating a show with seven, eight, nine characters — ask yourself, how can you appropriately dramatize that many characters within the framework of an hour television show? And the answer is that you can’t. So you say, OK, what we have to do is spill over the sides of our form and start telling multi-plot, more serial kinds of stories.
“Even though any given character may not have but three scenes in an hour, those three scenes are part of a 15-scene storyline that runs over numerous episodes. So that was simply a matter of trying to react to the initial things we did. The show began to dictate what it needed to be. Probably the smartest thing Michael (Kozoll) and I did was to let it take us there instead of trying to hack away to get back into the box. We just let it spill over.”
Born in New York City on Dec. 16, 1943, he was raised by his violinist father and painter mother. Graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he started at NYU for singing, but ultimately completed his bachelor’s degree in Theatre at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Bochco is survived by his wife Dayna; children Jesse, Sean and Melissa; and two grandchildren, Wes and Stevie Ray.