Gary David Goldberg, the television writer/producer best known for creating the seminal 1980s sitcom Family Ties, died Sunday at the age of 68 after a battle with brain cancer, Variety reported. The Brooklyn native and Brandeis University alum was a multiple Emmy winner.
With Family Ties, which aired form 1982 through 1989, Goldberg introduced America to Michael J. Fox’s iconic character Alex P. Keaton, the young Reaganite who was raised by, and often lovingly clashed with, parents who were aging ’60s flower children. The series – always punctuated by the “Sit, Ubu Sit- Good Dog” tag associated with Goldberg’s production company, was a staple of NBC’s famed Thursday night lineup that also included The Cosby Show and Cheers.
Goldberg had another hit in the 1990s with the ABC sitcom Spin City, which also starred Fox. Prior to Family Ties, Goldberg wrote for The Bob Newhart Show, and also directed films, including the John Cusack/Diane Lane romantic comedy “Must Love Dogs.”
On a personal note, it was the second of three Goldberg-created series that had special resonance for myself and my family. He created a series called Brooklyn Bridge, which aired on CBS for two seasons and 34 extremely low-rated episodes between 1991 and ’93. It was an autobiographical series about Goldberg’s childhood in 1950s Brooklyn and his colorful Jewish family.
The young protagonist was named Alan Silver- the same as my father- and when the series was threatened with cancellation, my parents spearheaded a letter-writing campaign (this was pre-Internet, mind you) to help extend its life. The show only lasted two seasons, but Goldberg did once write a letter to my father, near the end of the series’ run. And when I met Amy Aquino, who played the mother, at a conference a few years ago, her face lit up when I mentioned Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge has never been made available on DVD or Blu-ray, but various seasons of Family Ties and Spin City are. As is Goldberg’s autobiography, which is called- what else?- “Sit Ubu Sit.”