Celebrated television writer and producer Don Brinkley, the father of supermodel Christie Brinkley, died at his home in Sag Harbor on Saturday, July 14. He was 92 and had been a resident of Sag Harbor since 2007.
In July 1988, the Museum of Broadcasting in New York honored Mr. Brinkley with a retrospective of his career in television celebrating 50 years as a writer and producer.
Mr. Brinkley grew up in New York City. While still in high school and during college at Hofstra University, he began writing and selling radio scripts to the major networks. After World War II, in which he served as a medic in the U.S. Army, he worked in Chicago as a staff writer at WGN Radio and as a chief writer at CBS Radio. In 1950, he moved to Southern California where he began a career as a television scenarist, writing more than 400 teleplays for such shows as “The Untouchables,” “The Fugitive,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” “Kraft Suspense Theatre,” “The FBI,” “The Virginian,” “Ben Casey,” “Bat Masterson,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Rawhide,” “Ironside,” “Name of the Game” and others.
He and the late Frank Glicksman, his co-creator and partner on “Trapper John, M.D.,” teamed up for the highly successful series “Medical Center,” which Mr. Brinkley produced. Over the series’ seven-year span, he also wrote 45 original episodes. One of them led to the strengthening of the California laws regarding discrimination against cancer patients. The social and political impact of that episode was cited by the California Legislature and awarded a certificate of merit by the American Cancer Society. Another of Mr. Brinkley’s “Medical Center” scripts was chosen Best Dramatic Television Show at the Monte Carlo Film Festival.
After serving as producer on the “Executive Suite” series, Mr. Brinkley wrote and produced “Trapper John, M.D.” The series ran for seven years on CBS, accumulating high ratings and numerous awards. In 1996, he published a thriller novel titled “A Lively Form of Death.” In 1998, he wrote “Prisoner of Justice,” about the trial of Dr. Samuel Mudd, an American physician convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. Brinkley is survived by his wife of 55 years, Marge Brinkley; and two children, Gregory, an innovative nutritionist, and Christie, a model and actress.
Funeral services were private.
Memorial donations may be sent to The Don Brinkley Young Artist Workshop Project, c/o the Ross School, Development Office, 18 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton, NY 11937. Checks should be made out to Ross School with YAWP Program in the memo.