Leonard Goldberg, Former 20th Century Fox President, Dies at 85

Longtime TV executive also served as head of programming at ABC and partnered with producer Aaron Spelling

Leonard Goldberg
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Leonard Goldberg, the TV executive and producer who previously served as president of 20th Century Fox, died on Thursday at the age of 85.

He died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center from injuries resulting from a fall, according to a spokesperson. He was surrounded by his family.

Goldberg served as president of 20th Century Fox for two years beginning in 1987. Under his leadership, the studio produced such notable films as “Broadcast News,” “Big,” “Die Hard,” “Wall Street,” and “Working Girl.” Under his own banner, Goldberg also served as producer on projects including “WarGames,” “Sleeping With The Enemy,” “Double Jeopardy,” and “Charlie’s Angels.”

Goldberg began his career in the research department at ABC, eventually working his way up to head of programming. In that position, Goldberg oversaw the launch of shows like “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game,” and “Dark Shadows,” and is credited with pioneering the made-for-TV movie format.

He would later go on to serve as vice president of production at Screen Gems (now Columbia Pictures Television), where he partnered with producer Aaron Spelling, on projects like “Charlie’s Angels,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “The Rookies,” “Fantasy Island,” “Hart to Hart” and “Family.”

Most recently, Goldberg served on the Board of Directors of the CBS Corporation from 2007-2018 and served as executive producer on the CBS drama “Blue Bloods,” starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan; now in its 10th season.

He is survived by his wife Wendy Howard Goldberg, daughter Amanda Goldberg Raskind, sons Richard Mirisch and John Mirisch, their spouses, and his five grandchildren.

“Though the word is so often misused, Leonard Goldberg was the mentor of mentors to me and so many others – he gave you confidence and support and the leeway to make mistakes and he had the sure sense of himself to let you shine,” said Barry Diller. “He gave me my first job and nurtured a wrangly kid into something of an executive, and….he was decent, kind, clever, and a first-class citizen.”

“Leonard was the kind of executive and producer that simply does not exist any longer. He was a one-off. There won’t — there can’t — ever again be a career like his,” said Scott Rudin. “He invented more things than it’s possible to count. And he was a brilliant, exciting, challenging, demanding, remarkably empowering and deeply inspiring boss. I learned more from him than I would ever admit. I owe him a huge amount of my own career.”

“Leonard Goldberg had that unique quality of making anyone feel comfortable & special in his presence. My wife, daughter & I are thankful for the joy of our friendship, we’ll miss him dearly!” said Samuel L Jackson.

“Leonard was one of the finest people I have ever known,” said Sherry Lansing. “He was highly intelligent and had a great sense of humor. Above all, he was nice to everyone he met – and was admired and loved by them in return. His films and television series will live forever. He also was that unique individual who achieved great success and had a balanced life… He had an extraordinary marriage, wonderful children and grandchildren. He was a great friend, and I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.”

“Leonard Goldberg was a friend of mine for almost 50 years…he was a pioneer in broadcasting…..he was talented, creative, inventive, warm and devoted to his family,” said David Geffen. “He gave many people their first job in TV including Barry Diller and Michael Eisner. I will miss him.”