Emmy-award winning writer/producer/director Joanna Lee died Oct. 24 in Santa Monica of bone cancer. She was 72.
Lee started her career as an actress, appearing in “Death Valley Days” with Ronald Reagan and in “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “The Brain Eaters.” She also was a guest on “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Donna Reed Show.”
After a serious car crash, she began writing for television and landed a job on “The Flintstones.” She also wrote for several 1960s and 1970s series including “Petticoat Junction,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Waltons,” for which she won an Emmy for a Thanksgiving episode.
In 1974 she formed her own production company and produced “Babe,” a bio of Olympic athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, which won a Golden Globe for best TV movie. She pioneered the after-school special genre, writing, producing and directing titles such as “I Want to Keep My Baby” with Mariel Hemingway as well as telepics such as “Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night” with Susan Dey, “Children of Divorce,” “Juvi” and “15 and Getting Straight.” She published an autobiography, “A Difficult Woman in Hollywood,” in 1999.
Her son, the late Craig Lee, was a musician and music editor of the L.A. Weekly. She is survived by a son, visual effects artist Chris Ciampa and a grandson.