Steven Bochco, a writer and producer known for creating the groundbreaking police drama Hill Street Blues, died Sunday. He was 74. A family spokesman says Bochco died in his sleep after a battle with cancer. Bochco, who won 10 primetime Emmys, created several hit television shows, including LA Law, NYPD Blue, and Doogie Howser, MD. Premiering in January 1981, Hill Street Blues challenged, even confounded the meager audience that sampled it, the AP reports. Then, on a wave of critical acclaim, the series began to click with viewers, while scoring a history-making 27 Emmy nominations its first year. During its seven-season run, it won 26 Emmys and launched Bochco on a course that led to dozens of series and earned him four Peabody Awards.
Bochco grew up in Manhattan, the son of a painter and a concert violinist. In Los Angeles after college, he wrote for several series at Universal Studios. He got a big break: writing the screenplay for the 1972 sci-fi film Silent Running. But Bochco said the disrespect he confronted as the writer soured him on writing for the big screen. In his memoir Truth Is a Total Defense: My Fifty Years in Television, Bochco tells the story of his prolific TV career, which he began at 22 as a story editor on the NBC drama The Name of the Game, all the way to Murder in the First, which ran on TNT from 2014 to 2016. In his book, Bochco recalls his great collaborations and his battles with actors, studio heads, and network execs, along with the flops—including Bay City Blues and Cop Rock—that made the triumphs even sweeter.