William Link was best known for his TV collaborations with partner Richard Levinson

By Ally Mauch
December 29, 2020 06:32 PM

William Link, the co-creator of shows including Murder, She Wrote and Columbo, has died at the age of 87.

The veteran TV writer and producer died Sunday of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, his wife told Deadline.

Link was best known for his collaborations with Richard Levinson throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The pair met as young teens in suburban Philadelphia and went on to co-create Columbo, Mannix, Jericho, Ellery Queen, Murder, She Wrote and numerous other projects.

Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury as a mystery-solving novelist, aired on CBS from 1984 to 1996, with the TV movie Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest premiering in 1997.

William Link

Link and Levinson both won two Emmys during their careers and each earned nine other nominations, in addition to two Golden Globe Awards, a Peabody and a Tony nomination for their play, Merlin. The duo were also inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1994.

The hall of fame induction was posthumous for Levinson, who died in 1987 at the age of 52 due to a heart attack. Following his death, Link told The Los Angeles Times their relationship “was like marriage without the sex.”

In addition to their shows and TV movies, Link and Levinson penned two books — Stay Tuned: An Inside Look at the Making of Prime-Time Television in 1981 and Off Camera: Conversations with the Makers of Prime-time Television in 1986.

William Link

“Each time out we tried to do something that hadn’t been seen before, something that would touch an emotional or social chord,” Link told The New York Times of his and Levinson’s work in 1987.

He wrote a made-for-TV movie in 1991 as a tribute to his late collaborator, called The Boys. The film followed a writer who contracts lung cancer. "When Walter's diagnosed with lung cancer, despite his squeaky clean lifestyle, he has to tell his screenwriter partner, because that partner is a chain-smoker. As Walter fights cancer he also tries to put his affairs in order by teaching writing to prison inmates, talking to his son and ex-wife, and getting his partner to quit smoking," the IMDb summary reads.

Link is survived by wife Margery Nelson, grandchildren Anabelle Robertson, Bennett Nieberg, Fin Nieberg and Levi Nieberg, nieces and nephews Amy Salko Robertson and John Robertson, Karen Salko Nieberg and Owen Nieberg, sisters-in-law Elizabeth Nelson and Laurie Nelson, and brother-in-law Jonathan P. Nelson, according to Deadline.