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Theodore J. Flicker, Filmmaker and ‘Barney Miller’ Co-Creator, Dies at 84

Theodore J. Flicker, a filmmaker whose eclectic career included the Cold War comedy “The President’s Analyst” and the much-loved ABC comedy “Barney Miller,” died Sept. 13 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 84.

Flicker’s family told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the writer-helmer died in his sleep.

Flicker moved into Hollywood after working with an improvisational group in New York that he co-founded, the Premise. Members including future showbiz notables George Segal, Joan Darling and Buck Henry. The group helped Flicker produce his first film, the indie cult classic “The Troublemaker” (1964).

Flicker directed episodes of a handful of TV series, including “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” got his first break in features by co-writing the Elvis Presley feature “Spinout” (1966) and then really broke through with 1967 comedy “The President’s Analyst,” an offbeat send-up of the era’s obsession with thrillers, spies and psychoanalysis that Flicker wrote and directed. James Coburn and Godfrey Cambridge starred.

Next he wrote and directed the 1970 film “Up in the Cellar.”

He also wrote episodic television, including “Night Gallery,” “Mod Squad” and “The Streets of San Francisco.”

In 1974, Flicker teamed with TV vet Danny Arnold to create “Barney Miller,” the ABC comedy set in a Greenwich Village police precinct, through which all sorts of eccentric people would wander. The series ran eight seasons from 1974-82 and remains an exemplar of great workplace ensemble comedies.

Hal Linden starred as Capt. Barney Miller, with Max Gail as Det. Stan Wojciehowicz, Ron Glass as Det. Ron Harris, Steve Landesberg as Det. Sgt. Arthur Dietrich, Jack Soo as Det. Sgt. Nick Yemana and Abe Vigoda as the ever-suffering Det. Phil Fish.

Theodore Jonas Flicker was born in Freehold, New Jersey.

Flicker served in the Army in the early 1950s and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. There one of his classmates was Joan Collins, whom he later directed in his film “Up in the Cellar.”

In his later years, Flicker lived in Santa Fe and focused on art, including sculpting, and writing novels.

Variety editor-at-large Peter Bart reflected on Flicker: “Bob Evans and I met with Ted Flicker (at the time I was vice president for production at Paramount) and we thought his screenplay (for ‘The President’s Analyst’ was delightful.  I spoke with Flicker a couple of years ago, and he made it clear that sculpting was more satisfying to him than filmmaking.  Flicker was a very cerebral man — he loved humor but he also revered art, and found the latter more satisfying.”

“Barney Miller” co-creator Arnold died in 1995.

According to the New Mexican, Flicker’s survivors include his wife of 48 years, Barbara, and two brothers.

 

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