After literally starting in the mail room at Columbia Pictures, Witt rose to be a highly regarded TV and film director, and then producer. You’ve seen his name many times, usually in the form “Witt/Thomas” in the credits — the name of his production company with partner Tony Thomas (son of Danny Thomas), and then later as “Witt/Thomas/Harris” when he married writer-producer Susan Harris, and added her to the company too.
Responsible for some of the most iconic TV shows in history, Witt’s best-known series include Here Come the Brides (1968-1970), The Partridge Family (1970-1971), Soap (1977-1981), Benson (1979-1986), It’s a Living (1980-1989), Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990, and its 2012-2016 remake), The Golden Girls (1985-1992, created by Harris), Herman’s Head (1991-1994), Empty Nest (1988-1995), Blossom (1990-1995), and The John Larroquette Show (1993-1996). His best known films are Brian’s Song (made for TV, 1971), Dead Poets Society (1989), Three Kings (1999), and Insomnia (2002). He won multiple Emmy awards, and “Poets” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. During his off hours, Witt served for 16 years as a Commissioner, Vice-Chairman, and Chairman of the California State Park and Recreation Commission. He died at his home in Los Angeles on April 26, from cancer, at 77.