Former TV executive and producer Stefanie Cragg (aka Stefanie Kowal) died Wednesday, Jan. 26, of lung cancer. She was 69.
As head of movies and miniseries at Universal TV during the heyday of television longform, she collaborated with many of television’s top talents and mentored many on their way up.
Growing up in Chicago, Cragg attended the U. of Illinois. In the late ’60s she got a job at the Chicago Sun-Times working for syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers; she eventually wrote and produced Landers’ daily radio program on NBC. Later, at ABC station WLS Chicago, she launched the franchise “AM Chicago,” for which she won an Emmy Award in 1976.
In 1977 Universal Television hired Cragg as a production exec assigned to novels for television in Los Angeles. By the next year she was a production liaison on Universal’s various series on NBC. In 1979 she was promoted to VP in charge of TV movies and miniseries, overseeing development, sales and production of such titles as “Centennial,” “Little Women,” “Harvest Home” and “Off the Minnesota Strip.” In 1980 she became VP in charge of all U programming and development for NBC.
Cragg eventually moved into writing and producing and ultimately left Universal in 1986. She produced the 1986 movie “Slow Burn,” starring Eric Roberts, Beverly D’Angelo and Johnny Depp, for Showtime.
Her recent TV work has consisted mostly of consulting jobs, mainly with her husband, director-producer Stephen Cragg.
In 2007 Stefanie Cragg became engaged in writing and drawing a comicbook-format memoir series recounting her adventures titled “Midcentury Modern.” She was working on the second volume when she died.
Besides her husband, survivors include two sisters and a brother. A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb. 18, at 3 p.m. at the Wilshire Ebell Theater.