September 2, 1927|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 5, 1996
Malibu, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Myocardial infarction|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Occupation||Producer; screenwriter; director|
|Years active||1940s - 1996|
|Children||Sherril Lynn Rettino
Mitchell Wayne Katzman
Leonard Katzman (September 2, 1927 – September 5, 1996) was an American film and television producer, writer and director, most notable for being the showrunner (originally as producer, and later executive producer) of prime time soap opera Dallas.
Early life and career
Leonard Katzman was born in New York City, New York on September 2, 1927, and began his career in the 1940s, while still in his teens, working as an assistant director for his uncle, Hollywood producer Sam Katzman. He started out on adventure movie serials such as Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945), Superman (1948), Batman and Robin (1949), The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd (1951), Riding with Buffalo Bill (1954), et al. During the 1950s he continued working as assistant director, mostly with his uncle, in feature films such as A Yank in Korea (1951), The Giant Claw (1957), Face of a Fugitive (1959) and Angel Baby (1961). Besides his big screen work, Katzman also served on television shows, including The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, The Mickey Rooney Show and Bat Masterson.
In 1960, Katzman made his production debut, serving not only as assistant director, but also as associate producer, on all four seasons of adventure drama Route 66 (1960-1964), which he would later regard as his favorite production. His additional early work in television production (and occasional writing and directing) includes shows crime drama Tallahassee 7000 (1961), western drama The Wild Wild West (1965-1969), the second season of crime drama Hawaii Five-O (1969-1970), legal drama Storefront Lawyers (1970-1971), the final five seasons of western drama Gunsmoke (1970-1975) as well as its spinoff series Dirty Sally (1974), legal drama Petrocelli (1974-1976) for which he was nominated an Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the two science fiction dramas The Fantastic Journey (1977) and Logan's Run (1977-1978). In 1965, he wrote, produced and directed the science fiction film Space Probe Taurus (also known as Space Monster). Aside from his work as assistant director, this was his only venture into feature films.
In 1978, Katzman served as producer for the five-part miniseries Dallas, which would evolve into one of television's longest running dramas, lasting until 1991. While the series was created by David Jacobs, Katzman became the de facto show runner during the second season of the show, as Jacobs stepped down to create and later run Dallas spin-off series Knots Landing. Under Katzman's lead, Dallas, whose first episodes had consisted of self-contained stories, evolved into a serial, leading into the '80s trend of prime time soap operas.
While Katzman headed Dallas' writing staff from the show's second season, he remained producer, with Philip Capice serving as executive producer. The creative conflicts between Capice and Katzman eventually led to Katzman stepping down from his production duties on the show for season nine, instead being billed as "creative consultant" (during this time he also worked on the short-lived drama series Our Family Honor). However, increased production costs and decreasing ratings caused production company Lorimar—along with series star Larry Hagman (J. R. Ewing)—to ask Katzman to return to the show in his old capacity. Katzman agreed, reportedly under the condition that he would have "total authority" on the show, and as of the tenth season premiere he was promoted to executive producer, and Capice was let go.
Katzman remained as executive producer on "Dallas" until the series finale in May 1991. Besides his production work, he also wrote and directed more episodes of the series than anyone else.
Following "Dallas"' conclusion, Katzman went on to create the short-lived crime drama Dangerous Curves (1992-1993), which aired as a part of CBS' late-night drama block Crimetime After Primetime, and serve as executive producer for the second season of the action drama Walker, Texas Ranger (1994-1995). His last work was the 1996 "Dallas" reunion movie J.R. Returns, which he also wrote and directed.
Personal life and death
Leonard Katzman was married to LaRue Katzman with whom he had three children. His daughter, actress Sherril Lynn Rettino (1956-1995), predeceased her father by one year. His sons Mitchell Wayne Katzman and Frank Katzman, as well as son-in-law John Rettino, worked on the production of Dallas' later seasons. Both sons were also involved in the production of Dangerous Curves; Walker, Texas Ranger; and J. R. Returns.
Katzman died of a heart attack in Malibu, California on September 5, 1996, three days after his 69th birthday, and more than two months prior to the airing of his last production, Dallas: J. R. Returns. He was interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Excluding work as assistant director.
|1965||Space Probe Taurus (feature film)||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|1965-1969||The Wild Wild West||✓||✓|
|1969-1970||Hawaii Five-O, season 2||✓|
|1970-1975||Gunsmoke, seasons 16-20||✓||✓|
|1977||The Fantastic Journey||✓||✓|
|1985-1986||Our Family Honor||✓||✓|
|1994-1995||Walker, Texas Ranger, season 2||✓||✓|
|1996||Dallas: J. R. Returns (TV movie)||✓||✓||✓||✓|
1997: Lone Star Film & Television Awards - Special Award
- Leonard Katzman; Prolific Director Produced 'Dallas', Los Angeles Times; September 8, 1996
- Haithman, Diane. "The Baron of 'Dallas' : Producer Reminisces on 10th Anniversary", Los Angeles Times; April 1, 1988
- UltimateDallas.com - Dallas Dream Season
- Bonderoff, Jason: The Real Dallas Feud. Soap Opera Babylon, Perigee Trade, 1987