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‘Magnum, P.I.,’ ‘Knight Rider’ Producer Joel Rogosin Dies of Coronavirus at MPTF Retirement Home

MPTF screening room Motion Picture Television
Stewart Cook/Variety/Shutterstock

Longtime television producer Joel Rogosin died Sunday of complications from COVID-19 at the Motion Picture Television Fund’s retirement home in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills. He was 87.

He is the fifth MPTF resident to die of coronavirus complications in the past two weeks, beginning with John Breier on April 7 followed by Allen Garfield, Ann Sullivan and Allen Daviau. There are 162 residents at the residential campus and another 62 in the nursing facilities, with 14 who have tested positive in an isolation wing and two others in hospitals. Nine of the facility’s 400 employees have tested positive.

Rogosin began living on the Motion Picture campus in 2013. He broke into the business in 1957 as a messenger at Columbia Pictures. His producing credits include “The Virginian,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Ironsides,” “The Blue Knight,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “Knight Rider.” He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on “Magnum P.I.” and “Ironside.”

MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher said in a tribute, “They didn’t call them showrunners back then, but back in the days of 3 networks and nothing else they were the backbone of the TV industry. There weren’t writers rooms and long conversations with multiple creatives and a laundry list of producers; there were actual producers like Joel responsible for making it work every day, overseeing the development and writing of all the scripts, hiring and prepping the directors, casting each episode, overseeing all the editing and scoring, and approving the final cut and color correction.”

While at MPTF, he was a pioneer member of the Grey Quill Society, a group of residents who meet every week in a workshop setting to share memoir, poetry, fiction, and drama. Shirley Cohen, one of the Grey Quillers and Rogosin’s immediate neighbor on the Motion Picture campus, said, “What a lovely, modest, warm, humorous gentleman. He will always be remembered as being and what great talent he possessed.”

Rogosin is survived by his wife of 67 years, Deborah, and three daughters, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His widow said, “The only time I got really mad at him is when he threw me into the pool, dressed with high heels, in front of our 50 guests on a warm spring day. The pool was freezing.”

He also worked to change the name of the long-term care unit to the Mary Pickford House, named after one of founders who teamed to launch the MPTF in 1920.