Stephen Kandel, the prolific screenwriter whose work over four decades in television spanned Sea Hunt to Star Trek, Batman to Barnaby Jones and Mannix to MacGyver, has died. He was 96.
Kandel died Oct. 21 of natural causes in his Boston apartment, his daughter Elizabeth Englander told The Hollywood Reporter.
Kandel also wrote multiple episodes of such shows as The Millionaire, The Rogues, Gidget, I Spy, Ironside, The Wild Wild West, It Takes a Thief, Dan August, The New Mike Hammer, Mission: Impossible, Room 222, The Magician, Medical Center, Cannon, Hawaii Five-O and Hart to Hart.
Plus, he co-created Iron Horse, a 1966-68 drama from ABC and Screen Gems that starred Dale Robertson, as a gambler turned railroad baron, Gary Collins and Ellen Burstyn.
“His résumé reads like a Baby Boomer’s dream list of must-see TV,” Tom Weaver wrote in his 2005 book, Earth vs. the Sci-Fi Filmmakers.
Kandel had a hand in 14 episodes of the Lloyd Bridges-starring syndicated adventure series Sea Hunt from 1958-61, and his two Star Trek installments for the original NBC show featured guest star Roger C. Carmel as the lovable con artist Harry Mudd.
“I originally had the idea of a kind of a traveling salesman and con man — the medicine salesman in The Wizard of Oz that ends up as the Wizard, an interstellar con man hustling whatever he can hustle; a lighthearted, cheerful, song-and-dance man version of a pimp,” Kandel once explained to Starlog magazine.
Kandel contributed to five episodes of ABC’s Batman, including the action-packed False Face installment guest-starring Malachi Throne in 1966 and the “Zodiac Crimes” three-parter in 1967 that centered on the Joker (Cesar Romero) and, as an “Extra Special Guest Villain,” the Penguin (Burgess Meredith).
He worked on 11 episodes of the Mike Connors-starring Mannix from 1968-73 and 17 entries in the Richard Dean Anderson-led MacGyver from 1985-90; he produced the ABC show in his Hollywood swan song as well.
Born in New York City on April 30, 1927, Stephen David Kandel was the son of Aben Kandel, a writer on films including Manhattan Moon (1935) and I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). He also wrote a 1936 novel that was adapted for City of Conquest (1940), starring James Cagney.
Raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, Kandel graduated from high school at age 16, served in Germany with the U.S. Army during World War II and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1950. He then wrote the screenplays for the films Singing in the Dark (1956), Magnificent Roughnecks (1956) and Frontier Gun (1958).
He also penned Battle of the Coral Sea (1959), starring Cliff Robertson; Chamber of Horrors (1966), retooled from a TV pilot based on the 1953 film House of Wax and starring Patrick O’Neal; and Cannon for Cordoba (1970), starring George Peppard.
Kandel shared a Humanitas Award for the 1979 NBC telefilm Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love, a drama about an autistic child that starred James Farentino and Kathryn Harrold. And in retirement, he wrote a 2020 book, The Lyin’ King: A Tragical Tale of Tawdry Trumpery.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Anne; children Jessica, Anthony, Elizabeth and Joanna; and 11 grandchildren. His late sister was Beat Generation poet Lenore Kandel.