Don Brinkley

Donald Alan Brinkley (March 9, 1921 – July 14, 2012)[1] was an American television writer, director and producer. He wrote for countless television shows in a career that spanned over 55 years. He also wrote and produced the shows Medical Center and Trapper John M.D. He wrote a play, and a novel, "A Lively Form of Death" He was honored by the Museum of Broadcasting both in Los Angeles and New York City for his career.

Don Brinkley
Born(1921-03-09)March 9, 1921
DiedJuly 14, 2012(2012-07-14) (aged 91)
OccupationWriter, director, producer
Years active1951–1988


After World War II he worked in Chicago as a staff writer at WGN Radio and as a Chief Writer at CBS Radio.

In 1950 he moved to Southern California where he began an illustrious career as a television scenarist, writing over 400 teleplays for such shows as The Untouchables, The Fugitive, Have Gun, Will Travel, Kraft Suspense Theatre, The F.B.I., The Virginian, Ben Casey, Bat Masterson, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Rawhide, Ironside, The Name of the Game and many others.

After serving as producer on the Executive Suite series, Brinkley wrote and produced a number of television pilots, one of which was Trapper John, M.D.. The series ran for seven years on CBS, accumulating high ratings and numerous awards for its unique explorations of such controversial issues as gay rights, women's rights, euthanasia, nuclear disarmament, the right to die, and animal research. As one of the first series on prime time to deal with the AIDS problem, Trapper John, M.D. was awarded a citation of excellence by the city of Los Angeles. With Brinkley as executive producer, the show was also lauded for employing female writers and directors and for hiring disabled actors.

Don and Frank Glicksman, his co-creator and partner on Trapper John, M.D. also teamed up for the highly successful series, Medical Center, which Brinkley produced. Over the series' seven-year span, he also wrote 45 original episodes. One of them was directly responsible for strengthening the California laws regarding discrimination against cancer patients. Because of its social and political impact, that particular episode was cited by the California Legislature and awarded a certificate of merit by the American Cancer Society. Another of Brinkley's Medical Center scripts was chosen "Best Dramatic Television Show" at the Monte Carlo Film Festival.

In 1996 he published a thriller novel called 'A Lively Form of Death'. In 1998 he wrote 'Prisoner of Justice" (The Trials of Doctor Mudd). A drama of 2 acts by Don Brinkley.

In July 1988 the Museum of Broadcasting in New York set aside two nights to honor Don Brinkley with a retrospective of his career in television. In his speech to the Museum's audience, Don stated that after almost fifty years as a writer/producer, "I've already become what I'm going to be".

Early lifeEdit

Don Brinkley knew what he was going to be when he was in his teens, growing up in New York City. While still in High School and in his collegiate years at Hofstra College, he began writing and selling radio scripts to the major networks. During World War II he served as a medic in the US Army.


Don married Marjorie M. Bowling months later, and he legally adopted her children, Christie and Gregory. They refer to him as their "father" and not "step-father." The day after Don died, Marjorie had a stroke, heart attack and died only seven weeks later on September 9. Christie said her mother died of a broken heart after fifty-five years of a happy marriage.[citation needed]



Year Film Credit Notes
1959 Beach Patrol Writer
1982 Family In Blue Writer
1988 Divided We Stand Writer, Producer


Year TV Series Credit Notes
1951 Dick Tracy Writer 1 Episode
1952 The Cisco Kid Writer 1 Episode
1953 The Web Writer 1 Episode
I Led 3 Lives Writer 1 Episode
1955-57 Highway Patrol Writer, Director
1956-57 West Point Writer 11 Episodes
1957 Dr. Christian Writer 1 Episode
Panic! Writer 1 Episode
The Web Writer 3 Episodes
1957-58 Have Gun – Will Travel Writer 3 Episodes
Boots And Saddles Writer 2 Episodes
1958 Target Writer 1 Episode
Perry Mason Writer 1 Episode
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Writer 1 Episode
1958-60 Wanted: Dead or Alive Writer 6 Episodes
Tombstone Territory Writer 2 Episodes
1958-61 Bat Masterson Writer 14 Episodes
1959 The Rough Riders Writer 1 Episode
Trackdown Writer 2 Episodes
The Man and The Challenge Writer 1 Episode
Bold Venture Writer 1 Episode
1959-60 Richard Diamond, Private Detective Writer 3 Episodes
1960 Stagecoach West Writer 1 Episode
This Man Dawson Writer 1 Episode
1960-61 Michael Shayne Writer 6 Episodes
1961 Target: The Corruptors! Writer 1 Episode
King of Diamonds Writer 1 Episode
1962 The Detectives Writer 1 Episode
The New Breed Writer 2 Episodes
1962-63 Ben Casey Writer 3 Episodes
1963 I'm Dickens, He's Fenster Associate Producer 1 Episode
The Untouchables Writer 1 Episode
Redigo Writer 1 Episode
Ripcord Writer 1 Episode
1963-64 Arrest and Trial Writer 3 Episodes
1964 Rawhide Writer 1 Episode
Voyage to the Bottom Of the Sea Writer 2 Episodes
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Writer 3 Episodes
Convoy Writer 1 Episode
1965-66 The Fugitive Writer 5 Episodes
The Virginian Writer 2 Episodes
1965-71 The F.B.I. Writer 11 Episodes
1966 Tarzan Writer, Co-Producer 6 Episodes
1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Writer 1 Episode
The Rat Patrol Writer 2 Episodes
Cowboy in Africa Writer 1 Episode
1967-68 Ironside Writer 2 Episodes
The Invaders Writer 4 Episodes
The Felony Squad Writer 5 Episodes
1968-69 Lancer Writer 2 Episodes
1969 The Outcasts Writer 1 Episode
Strange Report Writer 2 Episodes
1969-76 Medical Center Writer, Producer, Story Consultant Multiple Episodes
1970 Mannix Writer 2 Episodes
The Name of the Game Writer 1 Episode
1970-71 The Interns Writer 2 Episodes
1976 Executive Suite Writer, Producer 4 Episodes
1979-86 Trapper John, M.D. Writer, Producer, Executive Producer Multiple Episodes


  1. ^ "Television writer Don Brinkley dies at 91". Retrieved 15 July 2012.[permanent dead link]

Don Brinkley on IMDb

External linksEdit