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 audience , Brinkley stated that after almost fifty years as a writer-producer, “I’ve already become what I’m going to be”
Apparently, he 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. After World War II (he was a medic in the US Army), 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 FBI”, “The Virginian”, “Ben Casey”, “Bat Masterson”, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Rawhide”, “Ironside”, “Name of the Game” and others.
He and the late Frank Glicksman, his co-creator and partner on “Trapper John, M.D.” the 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 is 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.
After serving as producer on the “Executive Suite” serier, 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 (before it was trendy to do so), and for hiring handicapped actors.
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. Don shared a love with Marjorie Marie Brinkley that was legendary and inspiring in its beauty.
He will be missed but his wit and wisdom will forever guide his two children, Gregory, an Innovative Nutrionist and Christie, Model and Actress, and his grandchildren Ian Amadeo, Elliott Marie, Alexa Ray Joel, Jack Paris and Sailor Lee.