December 15, 1933|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
William Theodore Link (born December 15, 1933) is an American film and television writer and producer who often worked in collaboration with Richard Levinson.
Life and career
Link was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Elsie (née Roerecke) and William Theodore Link, a textile broker. His mother had German Huguenot heritage, while his father did not know his heritage. Link discovered late in life that his father's parents were Jewish. Link's niece Amy examined a suitcase William Theodore Link 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 Link during World War II. Amy had discovered that Link's paternal grandparents were Jews. 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.
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. They sold their first short story, "Whistle While You Work", to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which published it in the November, 1954, issue. They co-created and sometimes produced such TV series as Columbo, Mannix, Ellery Queen, and Murder, She Wrote.
They also collaborated on several made-for-TV movies, including The Gun, My Sweet Charlie, That Certain Summer, The Judge and Jake Wyler, 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). Other collaborations for the small screen included the teleplay of an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour entitled "Day of Reckoning" (original air date November 22, 1962), which was based on a novel by John Garden. 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.
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 is 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, and the short-lived science fiction/detective series Probe, created with Isaac Asimov.
In 1979, Levinson and Link received a special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for their work on Ellery Queen and Columbo. During the 1980s, they were three-time winners of the Edgar for Best TV Feature or MiniSeries Teleplay, and in 1989, they were given the MWA's Ellery Queen Award, which honors outstanding mystery-writing teams. In November 1995, they were jointly elected to the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
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.
The William Link Theatre on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, is named for Link in honor of his work and donation of plays.
- "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- "Richard Levinson, 52, Writer of Television Mystery Series". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- "Film Reference". Filmreference.com. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- http://www.jewishjournal.com/television/article/columbo_creator_solves_his_own_family_mystery_20110222 an interview Link "His whole life had been spent as a non-Jew, while everyone in his life — his best friend and writing partner (Levinson), his wife, most of his professional colleagues and associates — all were Jewish (such as Falk). Yet, a few weeks before we met, Link had discovered that he was, in fact, Jewish (too).
- "The FictionMags Index". Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- "Mystery Writers of America Website, PDF of Past Presidents" (PDF). Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Browning, Paul (September 2, 2008). "CSULB to Dedicate William Link Theatre with Formal Dinner and Reading of the Award-Winning Writer/Producer's Play". This Week @ The Beach. California State University, Long Beach.
- Official website
- William Link at the Internet Movie Database
- "Bringing Columbo to the Printed Page," by J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet
- Archive of American Television Interview with William Link