There sure haven’t been many giants of TV like Stephen J. Cannell. The master of the 1970s and 1980s action drama, Cannell was behind “Rockford Files,” “The A-Team” and “Greatest American Hero.” And he was also loved by critics for “Wiseguy” and “Profit” (considered by some to be one of the best shows ever quickly canceled by a network).
Cannell was also known for his closing credits production bumper — which featured him at his typewriter, yanking a sheet of paper out (which then turns into his iconic “C” logo). That bumper changed quite a bit through the years: Sometimes Cannell was smoking a pipe, sometimes his several Emmys were sitting on a shelf, sometimes he was wearing a rather casual shirt. But it was always cool, at the end of a fun, rocking hour of Cannell-produced TV, to end it with that shot.
Cannell was also the last of a breed in TV: The independent producer. It’s been more than a decade since the repeal of fin-syn effectively ended businesses like Cannell’s (and MTM, Carsey-Werner, etc.) But back in the day, Cannell was a mega producer of his own control.
Cannell died Friday at the age of 69.