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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Link
Born(1933-12-15)December 15, 1933
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedDecember 27, 2020(2020-12-27) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesWilliam O. Link
Bill Link
OccupationScreenwriter, producer
Known forCo-creator of
Murder, She Wrote
Margery Nelson
(m. 1980)

William Theodore Link (December 15, 1933 – December 27, 2020) was an American film and television screenwriter and producer who often worked in collaboration with Richard Levinson.[1]


Early life

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Link was the son of Elsie (née Roerecke) and William Theodore Link, a textile broker.[2] His mother had German Huguenot heritage. Link discovered late in life that his father's parents were Jewish. Link's niece, Amy, examined a suitcase William Theodore had left to his son, which they had kept in their attic. She opened it in 2011 and it turned out to contain genealogical research and evidence done by William Theodore during World War II. Amy had discovered that Link's paternal grandparents were Jewish.[3] Link earned a degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business prior to serving in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958.

Levinson partnership

William Link and Richard Levinson met on their first day of junior high school. Each had enjoyed doing magic tricks and other students repeatedly mentioned to each of them that they should meet. They began writing together soon after.[4] In high school, they created radio scripts. While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, they wrote film criticism for the college newspapers. Some of their short stories were published in Playboy.[1]

They sold their first short story, "Whistle While You Work", to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which published it in the November 1954 issue.[4] In 1959, their play Chain of Command was produced by the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. This was followed by script-writing for Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Day of Reckoning, original air date November 22, 1962, based on a novel by John Garde), Dr. Kildare, and The Fugitive. They co-created and sometimes produced such TV series as Mannix in 1968, Columbo in 1969, Ellery Queen, and Murder, She Wrote (co-created with Peter S. Fischer).[1][5] The character of Columbo was first introduced by Link and Levinson in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show.[6] For the Jessica Fletcher character they created in 1983 when CBS contacted them to create a new mystery TV show, they found inspiration in a mix of Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple character. At first, they wanted Jean Stapleton for the role, but she ended up declining the offer.[5]

They collaborated on several made-for-TV movies, including The Gun, My Sweet Charlie, That Certain Summer, The Judge and Jake Wyler, Guilty Conscience, The Execution of Private Slovik, Charlie Cobb: A Nice Night for a Hanging, and Blacke's Magic; the last, which starred Hal Linden and Harry Morgan, was also developed into a short-lived TV series. The partners collaborated, as well, on two feature films: The Hindenburg (1975) and Rollercoaster (1977). Levinson and Link occasionally used the pseudonym "Ted Leighton", most notably on the telefilm Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You (1971), where their work was substantially rewritten by other hands, and on Columbo when they came up with stories to be scripted by their collaborators.

They co-wrote the Broadway musical magic show Merlin starring Doug Henning and co-scripted the film The Execution of Private Slovik.[1]

Post 1990s

Following the sudden death of Levinson in 1987, Link continued his writing and producing career in many media. In 1991, in tribute to Levinson, he wrote the script for the 1991 TV film The Boys, starring James Woods and John Lithgow. He was a frequent contributor to such mystery fiction publications as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. His post-Levinson TV work includes The Cosby Mysteries (1994–95), starring Bill Cosby. Link also was executive story consultant on the short-lived science fiction/detective series Probe in 1988.

In 2010, the specialist mystery publishing house, Crippen & Landru, released The Columbo Collection, a book featuring a dozen original short stories about Lieutenant Columbo, all written by Link.[6]

Link died from heart failure in Los Angeles on December 27, 2020, at age 87.[7]


  • William Link (January 19, 2010). The Columbo Collection by William Link. Crippen & Landru Publishers. ASIN B01B98WOZK.


All the following awards were jointly won by Link and Levinson :

Other recognitions:

  • 2002: Named president of the Mystery Writers of America (one of the few television writers to achieve this honor.[8]


The William Link Theatre on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, is named after Link in honor of his work and donation of plays.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Belkin, Lisa (March 13, 1987). "RICHARD LEVINSON, 52, WRITER OF TEVELSION MYSTERY SERIES". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  2. ^ "Film Reference". Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  3. ^ Teicholz, Tom (February 22, 2011). "'Columbo' creator solves his own family mystery". Jewish Journal. Archived from the original on February 25, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "The FictionMags Index". Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Peter S. Fischer (April 19, 1988). "The selling of 'Murder, She Wrote'". Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Susan King (June 16, 2010). "Classic Hollywood: William Link on 'Columbo'". Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Countryman, Eli (December 29, 2020). "William Link, 'Columbo' and 'Murder, She Wrote' Co-Creator, Dies at 87". Variety. Archived from the original on December 29, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Mystery Writers of America Website, PDF of Past Presidents" (PDF). Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  9. ^ Browning, Paul (October 1, 2008). "University Dedicates William Link Theatre". Inside CSULB. 60 (18). California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved January 17, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 June 2021, at 20:03
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