A family spokesman confirmed yesterday that Steven Bochco passed away in his sleep. He was 74-years old. Bochco changed the landscape of television, not once, but multiple times in his nearly 50 years in the business. He developed hit shows including Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., and NYPD Blue to name a few. His no-nonsense attitude and thirst for creative control earned him the reputation of being difficult to work with and even arrogant at times, but his record speaks for itself and stems from an early conversation he had with a famous producer.
Suffering with leukemia, Steven Bochco received a stem cell transplant from an anonymous 23-year old in late 2014, who he eventually met in 2016. It was well-known that Bochco was dealing with leukemia since he had no problems talking about it. Other than that, he kept most of his struggles private, and as his spokesman said, he also had a pretty big sense of humor about his situation. Bochco's spokesman, Phillip Arnold, had this to say.
"Steven fought cancer with strength, courage, grace and his unsurpassed sense of humor. He died peacefully in his sleep (at home) with his family close by."
Steven Ronald Bochco was born Dec. 16th, 1943, to a concert violinist father, Rudolph, and a painter-jewelry designer mother, Mimi, in New York. He attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan with a focus on singing before spending a year at New York University. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a theater degree in 1966. Bochco began at Universal Studios in the mid-1960s, and was Bochco known for refusing to bow to network chiefs, earning the very-rare creative control throughout his career.
Over the course of his long career, Steven Bochco won 10 Emmy Awards after being nominated a whopping 30 times. He was the driving force behind some of the most revolutionary TV drama shows of the last 30-plus years that set up the shows that run on cable today. Hill Street Blues debuted in 1981 in last place. However, the show amassed 98 Emmy nominations in its 146-episode run, making Bochco in demand. Next up was L.A. Law, which ran from 1986 to 1994, Doogie Howser, M.D., and NYPD Blue, which ran from 1993 to 2005. Steven Bochco had many hits, but he also had some misses as well. 1990's Cop Rock lasted only 11 episodes while 1983's Bay City Blues lasted for only 4 episodes.
Steven Bochco had a pretty interesting outlook on his producing style. When asked about it, he claimed that it wasn't a production style at all and instead insisted that it was a lifestyle. Bochco relayed a story that he learned early on in his career and it really seems to be something that he has stuck to, as many in the industry will attest. He explains.
"Years and years ago I worked for a producer who taught me more about how not to behave than how to behave. One of the most valuable lessons I ever had. This individual said to me, You get sh*t on by the people above you, and you sh*t on the people below you. I thought, Hah, there's a life lesson. I figure if you turn that upside down, you're on to something. So what you try to do is never sh*t on the people below you and only sh*t on the people above you. That always seems to work."
Steven Bochco had no problem turning his life upside down to turn the tables on the powers that be. He made a whole career out of playing by his rules and having others adapt to his style while working on some of the most iconic TV shows in history. You can read more about the life of Steven Bocho at the L.A. Times. Rest in Peace, Steven Bochco.