TV Writer Jackson Gillis Dies at 93

TV writer Jackson Gillis, a prolific contributor to fantasy and sf series, died August 19 of pneumonia in Moscow, Idaho.

If you watched TV in the 50s and 60s you saw a lot of his work. He broke into television in its early days by writing an episode of Racket Squad (1952). The following year he became a regular writer for The Adventures of Superman — and four decades later when his story “Panic in the Sky” was remade for Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (as “All Shook Up,” 1994) that would be the final credit of Gillis’ remarkable career.

In between he wrote for numerous fantasy and sf shows, Lost in Space, The Wild, Wild West, Jason of Star Command, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, Mission: Impossible, Land of the Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Tarzan and Zorro.

He even acted in the “Great Caesar’s Ghost” episode of Superman where Perry White actually meets the ghost (though Gillis didn’t get to play that part.)

Grown-ups at the time knew Gillis much better as a writer, story consultant and associate producer for the top-rated Perry Mason television series. Young Mike Glyer didn’t know his name at all but loved the work he did writing serials for The Mickey Mouse Club,  “The Adventures of Spin and Marty,” and the Hardy Boys (“The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure” and “The Mystery of the Ghost Farm”) – all shows I watched from the earliest age I could park myself in front of my parents’ RCA black-and-white.

Despite his omnipresence Gillis was never an award-winning writer, though he did receive a single Emmy nomination for one of his two dozen episodes of Columbo — “Suitable for Framing (#1.4)” (1971).

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

1 thought on “TV Writer Jackson Gillis Dies at 93

  1. “Panic in the Sky” is almost universally regarded as the single best episode of The Adventures of Superman — I know I regard it so.

    Jack Larson said on the DVD commentary that when Jerry Seinfeld hired him to be in one of his Superman American Express commercials, he sat down with him (Larson) in the dressing room trailer and questioned him about every detail of the episode, because it was his (Seinfeld’s) all-time favorite.

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