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Gary David Goldberg, Creator Of 'Family Ties,' Dies At 68

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Gary David Goldberg (Getty Images)
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Gary David Goldberg, whose sitcom about ex-hippies raising children (including an extremely conservative son) became a hallmark of NBC's 1980s lineup, died yesterday at age 68. He had been suffering from brain cancer.In 2008, when the Today Show brought together the Family Ties cast, it noted, "Goldberg was a late bloomer in the Hollywood writing business. A sometime actor from Brooklyn who led a gypsy lifestyle with his dog, Ubu, and the woman who would become his wife, Diana Meehan, Goldberg was 30 when he took up writing. He was 38 in 1982 when NBC bought his pilot, 'Family Ties,' about a nuclear family of five."

There was public television suit Michael Keaton and architect Elyse Keaton with daughters Mallory and Jennifer and son Alex, who referred to himself as Alex P. Keaton—not to mention surprise child Brian, Mallory's lunkhead boyfriend Nick ("Hey-ee"), Alex's friend Skippy, and numerous guest actors who became well-known names (Tom Hanks as Uncle Ned, Geena Davis as a housekeeper, Courteney Cox as a psychology student).

Family Ties premiered in 1982, but, in 1984, when it was scheduled after The Cosby Show in the 8:30 p.m. Thursday time slot, the sitcom became a real hit.

Alex was played by Michael J. Fox, who became a huge star (being in 1985's Back to the Future helped too). In fact, Goldberg wasn't impressed with Fox's first audition, but his assistant insisted Fox come back. (Matthew Broderick was also in the running for the role but he didn't want to move from NYC to LA.)

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When asked in 2008 if Family Ties would be able to get on the air in this day and age, Goldberg said, "I would say no, because I don’t think the network executives are smart enough to put it on and give it the kind of attention it would need to stay on. There’s such fear in the business right now. There’s just a bunch of kind of craven people making the decisions, and they wouldn’t have the courage to let the show gradually grow."

He also revealed that NBC wanted it for an eighth season, but he felt he had said all he wanted to say. Goldberg also created Brooklyn Bridge, a show inspired by his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, and Spin City, a sitcom about working in the NYC mayor's office (besides Fox, it also starred Connie Britton and Alan Ruck; later it had Charlie Sheen and Heather Locklear as its leads). He also wrote the screenplay for Bye Bye Love and wrote and directed Must Love Dogs—he named his production company after his dog Ubu, who became famous in the end credits of his shows.