28 June 2021

Creator of reality TV show Cops dies during off-road race in Mexico

28 June 2021

John Langley creator of the long-running TV series Cops, has died during a road race in Mexico a family spokeswoman said.

The 78-year-old died in Baja of an apparent heart attack on Saturday during the Coast to Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250 off-road race, Pam Golum said.

Cops was among the first reality series when it debuted in 1989, and became an institution through 32 seasons. Langley and production partner Malcolm Barbour had pursued the idea for years, and found a home for it on the fledgling Fox network.

The show was famous for following police, from deputies in the Deep South to officers from big city police departments, on long, boring nights in patrol cars or in fevered foot chases.

John Langley (AP)

Its quirks, including often shirtless suspects and reggae theme song Bad Boys, were frequent fodder for stand-up comics and were often referenced in films, TV shows and songs.

It ran on Fox until 2013 when Viacom-owned Spike TV, later rebranded as the Paramount Network, picked it up.

It was criticised for what was considered a slanted, pro-police perspective, and was permanently pulled from the air by Paramount last year during worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Some versions of the show still air internationally in syndication.

Langley was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and served in the US Army in the early 1960s.

He was also 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 off-road racing enthusiast and frequently drove in events like the one on Saturday.

He is survived by his son and producing partner Morgan, who oversees their company Langley Productions; another son, Zak; two daughters, Sara Langley Dews and Jennifer Blair; wife Maggie and seven grandchildren.

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