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'Battlestar,' 'Knight Rider,' 'Magnum PI' creator Glen A. Larson dies; watch clips of his iconic shows

A still from the original
A still from the original "Battlestar Galactica."
Tom Simpson/Flickr Creative Commons

Glen A. Larson, the writer-producer who created "Battlestar Galactica," "Knight Rider," "Magnum, P.I." and other classic television shows, has died, the Hollywood Reporter reports. He was 77.

The native Californian, who died in Santa Monica, had a long resume of hits which also included "B.J. and the Bear," "Quincy M.E.," "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" and "The Fall Guy." Larson also worked on "The Six Million Dollar Man," "It Takes A Thief" and more. He died Friday night at Santa Monica's UCLA Medical Center of esophageal cancer, according to the Hollywood Reporter, citing Larson's son James.

Edward James Olmos, who played Admiral William Olmos on the modern reboot of "Battlestar Galactica," tweeted his condolences:

Edward James Olmos tweet

Larson was criticized for taking the concepts used in many of his shows from popular films at the time. Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison called Larson "Glen Larceny." Author John Kenneth Muir points out the pattern of small-screen copies, including "Alias Smith and Jones" coming out after "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "McCloud" following "Coogan's Bluff," "B.J. and the Bear" following Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way but Loose" and, most famously, "Battlestar Galactica" capitalizing on the success of "Star Wars."

"Larson is undeniably a controversial figure in TV history because of his reputation for producing video facsimiles of popular films," Muir writes, "but scholars, fans and critics should also consider that ‘similarity’ is the name of the game in the fast world of TV productions."

Larson was proud of his track record. "I'm proudest of the fact that I fell in step with an audience taste-level that I knew how to judge and deliver for consistently," Larson told the Archive of American Television. "It wasn't a one-shot, it wasn't a lucky this or a that. It's a consistent body of work that has some symmetry to it in terms of why it worked and how it worked."

Before getting into television, Larson sang as a member of vocal group the Four Preps, producing three gold records. Their hit song "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)," which Larson contributed to the lyrics of, served as a major influence for Beach Boy Brian Wilson, according to the L.A. Times. Larson would later use those musical skills to write theme songs for several of his shows.

Watch Larson sing "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)" with the Four Preps:

The Four Preps: 26 Miles (Santa Catalina)

Watch intros, clips and bloopers from some of Larson's iconic shows (warning: the blooper reels contain some adult language):

Knight Rider

Knight Rider blooper reel

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar blooper reel

Battlestar clip

Magnum, P.I.

Magnum PI intro

Magnum PI outtakes

Quincy M.E.

Quincy intro

Quincy gets married

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy intro

This story has been updated.