Entertainment & Arts

Gary David Goldberg, Family Ties creator, dies aged 68

Gary David Goldberg
Image caption Gary David Goldberg said Family Ties was an "autobiographical" show

Gary David Goldberg, the creator of hit US sitcom Family Ties, which made Michael J Fox a star, has died at the age of 68, according to reports.

Brooklyn-born Goldberg, who based much of the show on his own life, died of brain cancer on 23 June at his California home, Hollywood Reporter and Variety said.

He went on to co-create the series Spin City, which also starred Fox.

The double Emmy-winner Goldberg also penned episodes of M*A*S*H.

He won one Emmy in 1987 for outstanding writing on Family Ties and the other for newsroom drama Lou Grant in 1979, for which he won an outstanding series award.

In total, Goldberg garnered seven Emmy nominations and he also wrote the critically-acclaimed Brooklyn Bridge, derived from his New York youth, in a noisy apartment building presided over by his matriarchal grandmother.

"She had the family's only telephone, television and car, thus consolidating her absolute power," he wrote in his official biography.

Image caption Fox (left) starred in both Family Ties and Spin City

The writer was also behind episodes of The Bob Newhart Show and he wrote and directed a couple of films - 1989 comedy-drama Dad starring Jack Lemmon and John Cusack romantic comedy Must Love Dogs (2005).

Family Ties, which he created in the 80s, centred around a liberal hippy couple, whose offspring were more in tune with the materialism of the Reagan era.

"That sharp right turn was embodied by Fox, a baby-faced Canadian who played 17-year-old, tie-wearing Alex P Keaton, the oldest kid of aging flower children played by Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross," said the Hollywood Reporter.

Goldberg was quoted as saying the show was "totally autobiographical in concept", describing himself and his wife Diana as "the parents", adding: "Our daughter Shana was as smart as Alex but could shop with Mallory."

It went on to huge success, attracting US audiences of 28.2m at its peak, and casting a young Tom Hanks in a recurring role.

Running from 1982 to 1989, it notched up 180 episodes, 19 Emmy nominations and five wins. In the UK, it was broadcast on Channel 4.

Post 1980, all of Goldberg's shows were made via his own company, Ubu Productions, in partnership with Paramount.

All of the credits to his shows had a famous ending - a photograph of his black Labrador Retriever in front of the Louvre in Paris, with Goldberg saying: "Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog," followed by a bark.

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