‘Golden Girls’ producer Paul Junger Witt dead at 77

Paul Junger Witt, who produced hit TV shows such as “Golden Girls,” “Here Come the Brides” and features “Dead Poets Society,” “Three Kings” and “Insomnia” among others, has died.

Witt died Friday morning at his home after a long battle with cancer, his publicist said. He was 77.

Witt, who began his career in the mailroom at Columbia Pictures, rose to become a producer of some the most beloved and successful television projects in history. Witt was behind such hit TV shows as “The Partridge Family,” “Golden Girls,” “Here Come the Brides,” “Soap,” “Benson,” “Empty Nest,” “Blossom” and the original “Beauty and the Beast.”

In addition to his TV work, Witt was also a producer of features “Dead Poets Society” and “Insomnia,” both starring Robin Williams,  “Three Kings,” and critically praised “A Better Life,” along with made for TV movie “Brian’s Song.”

With his producing partner Tony Thomas, Witt in the 1970s and 1980s ran Witt/Thomas Productions. In 1983, Witt married writer-producer Susan Harris, creator of NBC’s “Golden Girls,” and the company expanded as Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions, a partnership which exists to this day.

In addition to his producing career, Witt had a passion for the environment and devoted a significant amount of time to environmental causes. He served on the California State Park and Recreation Commission as Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Commissioner for nearly 16 years. He also was a member of the boards of ecoAmerica, The Environmental Media Association, and served on the boards of The Emmett Institute on Climate Change, Environmental Defense Fund and the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

Witt also served on the USC School of Cinematic Arts Board of Councilors and the University of Virginia Council of the Arts, where he was a graduate in 1963.

Witt is survived by his wife Susan Harris, and their children Christopher, Anthony, Genevieve, Oliver and Sam.

Services for Witt will be private. Donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjudge.org), Save the Children (501 Kings Highway East, Suite 400, Fairfield, CT 06825) or an environmental organization of choice.

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