Flowers were placed Monday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of John Langley, considered the father of reality television by co-creating the long-running Fox Broadcasting series “Cops.”
Langley died Saturday of an apparent heart attack while competing in the RECORD Off Road Series Ensenada-San Felipe 250. He was 78.
“Cops” received a four-episode order from Fox in 1988 and premiered on March 11, 1989. It ran on Fox until 2013 and was picked up later that year by the Spike cable network, which was rebranded as the Paramount Network in 2018.
“Cops” was canceled by the Paramount Network in 2020 in the aftermath of the protests against police brutality following the in-custody death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis officer.
Born June 1, 1943, in Oklahoma and raised in Southern California, Langley served in the U.S. Army, received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in literature and composition from Cal State Dominguez Hills and was studying for his doctorate in philosophy at UC Irvine when he made the transition into film.
Langley’s initial breakthrough came in 1983 when he and then-producing partner Malcolm Barbour, “Cops”’ other co-creator, produced the documentary “Cocaine Blues,” about the drug trade and its effects on the nation.
Langley and Barbour went on to produce several documentary series and crime-related specials, including “American Vice: The Doping of a Nation,” “The New Mafia,” “Innocence Lost” and “Murder: Live from Death Row.”
In addition to “Cops,” Langley and his son Morgan produced the Spike series “Jail” and truTV’s “Las Vegas Jailhouse.”
In 1995, Langley Films was established to create and produce independent theatrical motion pictures. Langley produced and directed such films as “Dogwatch,” “Tiptoes” and “Wildside.”
Langley formed an off-road racing team, COPS Racing, which finished first in its class in the Baja 1000 in 2009 and 2010. He was also the founder of URRACA Wines, a boutique winery located in the Mendoza region of Argentina.
“Cops” profiled law enforcement agencies in more than 140 U.S. cities, along with Hong Kong, London, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
In a 2011 interview as he was about to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Langley told City News Service that he was most proud that “Cops” would serve “as a historical documentary of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
“Some day, historians, psychologists and sociologists will be able to study our era and our particular arena, crime and punishment,” Langley said. “They’ll be able to plumb the depths of sociological and legal factors about why we have crimes in certain areas.”