Morton Zarcoff, a producer on the 1968 crime series “It Takes a Thief” and former co-chairman of the University of Southern California’s (USC) Film & Television department, died Dec. 1 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a brief illness. He was 95.
Zarcoff’s death was confirmed by his son, Larry Zarcoff.
Zarcoff was born on Aug. 23, 1927 and grew up a Brooklyn native, where he frequented movie theaters and developed a love of cinema. After serving in the Navy, Zarcoff resumed his academic studies at Brooklyn College and later the University of Michigan, where he was introduced to radio and television.
Zarcoff’s first major production credit was as a writer on Season 1 Episode 14 of the sci-fi anthology series “Tales of Tomorrow,” though he moved up to wield dual associate producer and writer titles on the 1960 show “Assignment: Underwater” while working at National Telefilm Associates.
In the late ’60s, Zarcoff moved across the country to Los Angeles, where he was determined to make a name for himself, which he did at the hand of Universal Television. Other notable works included in Zarcoff’s filmography include the 1975 show “Switch,” for which he was an associate producer, and 1979’s “The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo,” which he worked on as a supervising producer.
Shortly after the start of his Los Angeles residency, Zarcoff began teaching film and television part-time at USC, where he remained a beloved fixture for over a quarter of a century — both as a professor and a co-chair of the department. In 1987, Zarcoff leveraged his own filmmaking talents at the university to write and direct a 34-minute documentary about John Randolph Hubbard, USC’s eighth president, as part of the H. Dale Hilton Living History Project.
Zarcoff is survived by his two sons, Larry and Edward; his three grandchildren, Alexander, Aliza and Roo; and his brother, Samuel. His wife, Marilyn, died in May 2019.