Steven Bochco, the 10-time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer behind the iconic TV hits Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Houser M.D., and NYPD Blue, has died at age 74. Bochco died on April 1 after a long battle with leukemia, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Bochco started his career as a story writer on 1970s shows like Columbo and McMillan & Wife before achieving major success in the early 1980s by reshaping the TV drama genre with the megahit NBC police drama Hill Street Blues. As a pioneering TV producer, Steven Bochco helped to spearhead the careers of stars like Blair Underwood and Neil Patrick Harris.
In a statement to Variety, longtime friend and colleague Steven Spielberg paid tribute to Steven Bochco after his death was announced.
“Steve was a friend and a colleague starting with the first episode of Columbo that he wrote and I directed. We have supported and inspired each other ever since and through many deep mutual friendships we have stayed connected for 47 years. I will miss Steve terribly.”
In addition to Steven Spielberg, many other big names from the entertainment industry took to social media to remember Steven Bochco, including several cast members from the late producer’s iconic television shows.
Neil Patrick Harris, who at age 15 won the title role of teen doc Doogie Houser on Bochco’s show, Doogie Houser MD., penned one of the most poignant tributes to the late TV mastermind. Harris described Bochco as a mentor whose work ethic helped shape his own, and he called him “true game changer in television.”
I’m terribly saddened by the news that Steven Bochco passed away yesterday. He was a true game changer in television. His work ethic shaped mine, his words of wisdom stick with me to this day. I’m so proud of Doogie Howser, mostly for being a Bochco show. #quality #mentor #RIP
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) April 2, 2018
L.A. Law actor Blair Underwood also took to Twitter to write:
“VERY SAD to hear that Steven Bochco passed away on Sunday. Steven hired me on LA LAW and changed the trajectory of my life and career. There are opportunities available to me today because he took a chance on a kid like me, long ago. I’ll forever be grateful to him. RIP Steven.”
Corbin Bernsen, who played Arnie Becker on the hit legal drama, also credited Bochco for his career, saying the L.A. Law co-creator gave him “the key to the lock that opened the door to a career.” Bernsen also said Bochco taught him about humanity.
In addition, Ken Olin, the former Thirtysomething star and current executive producer of This Is Us, wrote that Steven Bochco gave him his first break by bringing him to Hollywood to star in the short-lived sitcom Bay City Blues in 1983. More than 30 years later, Olin said he is eternally grateful to Bochco for his successful career. Other TV producers, including Joss Whedon and Judd Apatow, pointed to Steven Bochco as one of the biggest influences for their own TV shows.
You can see Hollywood’s reaction to the death of Steven Bochco below.
I will be forever grateful to Steven Bochco for the key to the lock that opened the door to a career. At the same time he taught me more about our humanity; our faults and strengths, how they survive side by side, despite our human insistence on seeing them as opposing forces.
— Corbin Bernsen (@corbinbernsen) April 2, 2018
I was 28, married, & the father of a baby boy when the creator of ‘Hill St. Blues’ came to NYC to cast a show about minor league baseball. Steven Bochco gave me my first break on ‘Bay City Blues’ and brought me to Hollywood. I’m eternally grateful to him for my career. RIP boss.
— Ken Olin (@kenolin1) April 2, 2018
Steven Bochco sat with Jake Kasdan and myself before we started Freaks and Geeks and let us grill him for advice. We used all of it. He was a great man and will forever be an inspiration. https://t.co/IWT2Zfr3Nf
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) April 2, 2018
Absolutely one of the biggest influences on Buffy (and me) was HILL STREET BLUES. Complex,unpredictable and unfailingly humane. Steven Bochco changed television, more than once. He’s a legend. All love to his family, R.I.P., and thank you.#LetsBeSafeOutThere
— Joss Whedon (@joss) April 2, 2018
It was his vision, style, taste and tenacity that made me love watching TV. It was being on #NYPDBlue that made me love working on TV. Thank you and rest well Steven Bochco. You were one of a kind. https://t.co/jTqhyAuO0k
— Sharon Lawrence (@sharonlawrence) April 2, 2018
So sad to hear of Steven Bochco’s passing. He was a pioneer, a gentleman, and gave me my first job in prime time tv. Rest well, sir. You will be missed. #RIP
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) April 2, 2018
So heartbroken to learn of the passing of our dear friend #StevenBochco our prayers with Dayna and the family that they be comforted R.I.P ????
— Roma Downey (@RealRomaDowney) April 2, 2018
Sad to hear of the passing of Steve Bochco. Met him on the set of Columbo when I was a kid. Bochco had written the episode my father was guesting on and a young man named Spielberg was directing. Bochco was an exceptional writer who changed the game. Condolences to his family.
— Shaun Cassidy (@shaunpcassidy) April 2, 2018
My heart breaks tonight hearing of Steven Bochco’s passing. He was an exceptional human being. A great friend, father and partner. We will all miss him terribly. RIP dear one
— Goldie Hawn (@goldiehawn) April 2, 2018
Neil Patrick Harris previously credited Steven Bochco for giving him great advice as he took on the life-changing starring role on the ABC comedy-drama, Doogie Houser M.D., when he was just a teenager.
“Mr. Bochco sat me and my parents down,” Harris told Rolling Stone of his early days as Doogie Houser. “I vividly remember he said, ‘This is a lot of work and a big deal. And with the good will come a lot of the bad, and you need to brace yourselves for what it means.’ It was a surfing metaphor. ‘This is going to be a great wave. It will inevitably crash, and the question will be whether you have the desire to paddle back out, get knocked over by a bunch of waves on your way, and wait for the next set.’ Which was very sage advice.”
Take a look at the video below to see Steven Bochco talking about his favorite TV character that he created.