LOS ANGELES (AP) – John Langley, who was the creator of the long-running ‘Cops’ television series, has died during a road race in Mexico, a family spokesperson said.
Langley died in Baja, Mexico on Saturday of an apparent heart attack during the Coast to Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250 off-road race, family spokeswoman Pam Golum said. He was 78 years old.
“Cops” was one of the first reality TV series to air when it debuted in 1989, and it would become an institution over 32 seasons. Langley and his production partner Malcolm Barbour had bought the idea for years and found it on the fledgling Fox Network.
The show was famous for following the police, from deputies from the Deep South to officers from the police departments of big cities, on long, boring nights in patrol cars or in feverish foot chases.
His quirks, including his often shirtless suspects and his reggae theme song “Bad Boys,” were frequently fodder for stand-up comics and were often referenced in movies, TV shows, and songs.
It worked on Fox until 2013, when Viacom-owned Spike TV, later renamed The Paramount Network, took over.
He was criticized for what was seen as a biased, pro-police perspective, and was permanently taken off the air by Paramount last year during global protests against the murder of George Floyd.
Some versions of the show are still being syndicated internationally.
Langley was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and served in the United States Army in the early 1960s.
Langley has also been a producer on the 2009 film “Brooklyn’s Finest” directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Richard Gere and Don Cheadle, and on the non-fiction series “Jail”, “Vegas Strip” and “Anatomy of a Crime” .
He was an avid off-road racing enthusiast and frequently competed in events like the one he competed in on Saturday.
Langley is survived by his son and production partner, Morgan, who oversees their business Langley Productions; another son, Zak; two daughters, Sara Langley Dews and Jennifer Blair; his wife, Maggie, and his seven grandchildren.
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