Joel Steiger, TV Writer-Producer on ‘Matlock,’ ‘Perry Mason,’ Dies At 79

Antonio Ferme
·2-min read

Joel Steiger, who served as a writer, producer and consultant on some of the most successful television mystery series of the ’80s and ’90s including “Matlock,” “Jake and the Fatman” and “Diagnosis: Murder,” died Sunday in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 79.

After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a screenwriter, Steiger went on to write and produce hundreds of the most successful mystery and drama series of the ’80s and ’90s, including “Dynasty,” “Max Monroe,” the “Perry Mason” TV movies, and “Father Dowling Mysteries.”

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He received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1983 for writing an episode of “Remington Steele” titled “In the Steele Of The Night.”

Steiger was born in New York City on March 11, 1942. Even though he had lived in Los Angeles since his 30s, Steiger remained a quintessential New Yorker all of his life. As a young man, he worked as a lifeguard while spending his summers on Fire Island, where he made some of his closest lifelong friends.

Steiger graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Colgate University and Columbia University. In his 20s, he was a bartender at Elaine’s, a renowned literary haunt, and later became the head copywriter at CBS Records.

His family said that Steiger “loved to travel, read trashy mysteries and argue about a wide range of topics. He loved summers at the beach, the Sixties, and hoodies. Joel had more friends than anyone has the right to have, and every one of them thought of him as their best friend, because he was.”

He is survived by his wife Diane, his sister Susan and his children Vanessa, Matthew and Emma.

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