Man Behind 'Police Academy' Franchise Has Passed Away at Age 74


News broke this morning of writer and director Hugh Wilson’s death on Sunday, Jan. 14 at age 74.

An Emmy winner and seven-time nominee, Wilson was the creator of the critically acclaimed WKRP in Cincinnati sitcom, and writer and director of the first “Police Academy” movie.

Wilson was also awarded the Humanitas Prize twice for his “television and film writing that promotes meaning and human dignity.”

Two of his shows, WKRP in Cincinnati and Frank’s Place, are often regarded as two of TV’s all time best comedies.

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His writing for an episode of Frank’s Place won him an Emmy for best comedy — a remarkable feat for the show, as it only had one season.

As for the “Police Academy” movie that started a Warner Brothers franchise of six more movies, Wilson almost turned down the job.

“I got this script, and it was such a lousy piece of junk,” he said in 2015. “I told my agent that I was in no way interested.”

But after learning that he would be doing the rewrite and would get a chance to direct the movie, it was “a whole different story.”

Wilson first got his start after switching from selling advertisements to writing them.

With help from other advertisement writers, he made the leap to Hollywood and began writing what would later become WKRP in Cincinnati.

Wilson remained active as a writer and director, and after moving to Virginia with his family, began teaching TV and screenwriting at the University of Virginia.

Among the many movies he directed were popular favorites like “Blast from the Past,” “First Wives Club,” “Dudley Do-Right,” and “Guarding Tess.”

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The last movie he directed was the sports movie “Mickey” in 2004, starring Harry Connick Jr.

Wilson left behind his wife of 40 years, Charters Smith Wilson, his children Cannon, Price, Margaret, Hugh and Caroline, and his four grandchildren.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they go through this difficult time.

Hugh, you will be missed, and may you rest in peace.

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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