News Column

'Family Ties' and 'Spin City' creator Gary David Goldberg dies

June 24, 2013


June 24--Gary David Goldberg, the creator of the iconic 1980s and '90s comedies "Family Ties" and "Spin City," has died. He was 68.

Family members said Goldberg died Saturday in his Montecito home from brain cancer.

Goldberg was a Brooklyn native who worked on several notable TV shows, including "Lou Grant," "The Bob Newhart Show" and "MASH."

But he was mostly known for creating two shows that turned young Michael J. Fox into a major television star.

Fox was the star of "Family Ties," which ran from 1982 to '89, revolved around Alex P. Keaton (Fox), a young Republican who had a somewhat strained but always loving relationship with his former hippie parents, played by Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross.

That show, which was a huge hit with audiences, was semi-autobiographical, Goldberg once said in an interview, as it reflected the conflict between the liberalism of the '60s and '70s to the conservatism of the 1980s. He said the parents in the show mirrored him and his wife Diana, while their daughter Shana reflected Alex.

In a 2007 interview with the Archive of American Television, Goldberg said that "Family Ties" at its best would get "what I call 'The Laugh of Recognition,' a deep laugh. When you can get that laugh, you own the audience in the right way."

Goldberg would team up with Fox again in 1996 for "Spin City, where the young actor played a deputy mayor of New York City. That series, which was co-created with Bill Lawrence and premiered on ABC, was also a big hit, but later encountered a major hurdle when Fox was forced to leave the series after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

When Fox returned in 2001 for a special appearance on the show, Goldberg said the moment was very emotional. He had encouraged the star to return.

"We became aware of the reasons why he doesn't do this anymore," said Goldberg in an interview during the taping of the episodes. "It was not easy on him. And he really sees his position in the world differently now."

Following the end of "Spin City," Goldberg also produced the TV series "Brooklyn Bridge" and wrote the 1989 film "Dad" with Jack Lemmon and the 2005 film "Must Love Dogs."

A complete obituary will follow at


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