Screenwriter For ‘Brian’s Tune’ And ‘Roots’ Was 83 – Deadline
William Blinn, the screenwriter of Prince’s Purple Rain and creator of Starsky & Hutch, has died at the age of 83. According to his daughter Anneliese Johnson, he spent Thursday in an assisted living community in Burbank for natural reasons.
“If you were an aspiring writer like me in the ’70s and’ 80s, Bill’s work defined what it was like to write powerful, impactful, and groundbreaking drama,” said friend and co-writer Robbie Fox.
During a four-decade career as a writer, producer, and drama specialist, Blinn wrote for Bonanza, developed Eight Is Enough, and created The Interns, The Rookies, and Pensacola: Wings of Gold.
Blinn co-wrote Purple Rain with director Albert Magnoli. The 1984 film was offered to him thanks to his work as a writer and executive producer by Fame, who incorporated the music extensively into the show.
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Blinn was working for Screen Gems when he adapted a chapter of Chicago Bears’ autobiography I Am Third, in which Gale Sayers ran back. That project became Brian’s Song, which became a cultural landmark in 1971, and became the fourth most popular film ever to be televised. Blinn received an Emmy and Peabody Award for writing on the television film.
Five years later, Blinn received another Emmy for his work on Roots. The series proved to be yet another blockbuster seen by an overwhelming number of the United States. The last episode drew more than 100 million viewers in January 1977.
Blinn was born on July 21, 1937 in Toledo, Ohio. After graduating from DeVilbiss High School in 1955, he was accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. His acting aspirations soon faded, but reading so many plays convinced him that he could do better than most of the writers who created the works.
He came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s selling story ideas and / or scripts on shows like Maverick, Rawhide, Laramie, and My Favorite Martian.
Besides his daughter, his son Chris and his grandsons Mackenzie, Eden, Zachary and Zoe are survivors.
There won’t be an immediate funeral, but the family are planning a virtual celebration of his life that will be announced soon.