×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hugh Wilson, ‘Police Academy’ Director and ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Creator, Dies at 74

Hugh Wilson, creator of the CBS comedies “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Frank’s Place” and writer-director of the first “Police Academy” movie, died Jan. 14 in Charlottesville, Va. He was 74.

Wilson was a writer for the “Bob Newhart Show” and “The Tony Randall Show” and won an Emmy for best comedy writing in 1988 for “Frank’s Place.” He received Emmy nominations for his work on “The Famous Teddy Z” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.” He was twice awarded the Humanitas Prize, given for television and film writing that promotes meaning and human dignity.

Wilson excelled as a creator of ensemble comedies with enduring appeal. “WKRP,” which ran from 1978-1982, revolved around a motley group of characters at a run-down Cincinnati radio station. “Frank’s Place,” which lasted only one season in 1987-88, was set a restaurant in New Orleans. Both shows are often cited among TV’s all-time best comedies.

The 1984 comedy “Police Academy,” starring Steve Guttenberg, became a major hit and spawned six more films in the series.

Among the other movies he directed were “First Wives Club,” starring Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler; “Blast from the Past”; and Shirley MacLaine and Nicolas Cage film “Guarding Tess.” He also directed the 1999 romantic comedy “Dudley Do-Right” with actors Brendan Fraser and Sarah Jessica Parker. Wilson last directed the 2004 sport film “Mickey” starring Harry Connick Jr.

Born in Miami, Wilson graduated from the University of Florida in 1965 with a degree in journalism. He worked in advertising before segueing into TV writing. In 1982, the University of Florida presented Wilson with the Distinguished Alumnus award. He taught TV and screen writing at the University of Virginia.

He is survived by his wife, five children, and four grandchildren.

(Pictured: “Police Academy”)

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ruth HandlerBARBIE DOLL, OFFICIALLY INAUGURATED AT

    'Dream Doll' Biopic on Barbie Doll Inventor in Development (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Dream Doll,” a biopic based on Barbie Doll inventor Ruth Handler, is in development with Bron Studios, Rita Wilson and Rare Bird Films, Variety has learned exclusively. The film will chronicle the life of Handler as she founded Mattel in 1945 and created the now-iconic Barbie doll, named after her daughter Barbara, in 1959. Handler [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    HBO Buys Hugh Jackman Dramedy 'Bad Education'

    HBO will buy “Bad Education,” a dark look at corruption in a Long Island public school district that earned strong reviews after it premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The pact is for a reported $17.5 million, making it the largest deal of an otherwise lackluster movie market at the festival. With a [...]

  • MoviePass card

    How MoviePass's Former Chairman Plans to Save the Floundering Company

    Ted Farnsworth still believes that MoviePass, the high-flying subscription service that crashed to Earth in spectacular fashion, can soar again. The former head of Helios and Matheson Analytics, the data company that bought MoviePass in 2017 and turned it into a phenomenon by allowing customers to see a movie per day for $9.99 a month, [...]

  • Streaming Battle: Disney, Apple and More

    The Battle for Eyeballs Makes for an Action-Packed Streaming Arena (Column)

    It came as no surprise last week that Disney CEO Bob Iger had resigned from the Apple board since the two companies are poised to launch competing subscription streaming services in less than two months. But Iger’s departure (announced the same day that Apple revealed its Nov. 1 launch date and $5-a-month price point) underscores [...]

  • La vaca

    Alec Baldwin’s El Dorado Boards Debut by Chile’s Francisca Alegria (EXCLUSIVE)

    In what marks the company’s first Latin American project, Alec Baldwin’s El Dorado Pictures has boarded Chilean filmmaker Francisca Alegria’s debut feature, “The Cow Who Sang a Song About the Future.” The multi-Emmy-winning actor and his El Dorado partner Casey Bader will serve as executive producers of the film, slated to start principal photography in [...]

  • Inside Tinder's User-Controlled, Secret Streaming Sereis

    Inside Tinder's Secret Streaming Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Popular dating app Tinder is set to release a choose-your-own-adventure-style original series in early October, marking its first outing as a content financier and distributor, numerous individuals close to the project told Variety. The series is set against an impending apocalypse, one of the insiders noted, and asks the question “Who would you spend your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content