David Wolper, producer of 'Roots' and 'The Thorn Birds,' dies at 82

David Wolper, the legendary Hollywood producer who brought Roots and The Thorn Birds to the small screen, has died at 82 of congestive heart failure and complications from Parkinson’s Disease, according to the AP. Roots was watched by 130 million people back in 1977, roughly half the population of the country at the time. Wolper also produced for the big screen, including 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and, years later, 1997’s Oscar-winning police drama LA Confidential.

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  • jml

    don’t forget he also produced north & south w/ patrick swayze in it. loved that miniseries. may he rest in peace.

    • aleksa

      Sounds like he was the father of the miniseries, really. Great body of work. Rest in peace, indeed.

  • Pisces228

    I believe he was also in charge of the 1984 Olympic Ceremonies in Los Angeles, which were absolutely awesome.

  • j.

    L.A. Confidential was released in 1997.

  • Chris

    L.A. Confidential came out in 1997, not 1992.

    • SurlyZ

      Good job, Chris. But for some reason, hours later, the fix still hasn’t been made. Who edits for these idiots?

  • Guy B.

    The man made was a great talent, he knew what he wanted, he got it and we are all the better for it. This new Hollywood could take a few lessons from the achievements of this man. The world of entertainment has lost a giant. Thank you for all the wonderful hours of joy you brought to our home David.

    • Kagerou

      touching statements

  • Guy B.

    Sorry everyone was really tired when I made the post… was to read the man made great entertainment of all kinds…
    please excuse the mistake

  • mark

    iloved his movies

  • David J.

    Back in 1966 I was working as a bartender in SF and during a conversation, a customer asked me to write a sketch for a murder mystery…turns out it was David Wolper. He held the sketch as an option for a few months, then told me he couldn’t use it. A brush with fame….


    I am actually from Henning, Tennessee the home of Alex Haley (author of “Roots”), and continue to visit my home tell this day. My present location is Alaska.

  • Billy

    “Roots” maybe the biggest fraud since the Civil War as far as disinformation on slavery. The movie begins the fraud right from the start, with the stereotype cast of what appears to be a bunch of “redneck crackers” from some U.S. southern state, chasing poor innocent Koonta through the woods with guns and ropes. In fact the slaves from Africa were sold into slavery by their own countrymen (black Africans), the same way they have done it for thousands of years, and still do it today. But, of course, Hollywood never lets a few facts get in the way of re-writing history to cast white men as devils incarnate, and the cause of all world suffering.

    • Roger

      @ Billy Thu 08/12/10 3:39 AM

      The fact is that slavery in Africa already existed when the Europeans came to get slaves. However the scale and inhumane conditions (torture, rape and downright degrading of a race for several centuries) which came with the arrival of the Europeans have yet to be matched. I think Roots wasn’t free without clichés or stereotypes but it did’nt stray far from what really happened in my humble opinion.

    • P. Lacey

      The slaves in Africa were treated like human beings, not worse than animals like in the US

    • Jango Davis

      …and in case anyone forgot what racists sound like….

      • Julissa

        I much prefer inormfaitve articles like this to that high brow literature.

    • Billy’s Buddy

      Billy sounds like one of those racists with a grudge.

  • Terrence


    Yes-you are correct. Slavery did exist in Africa as well as other nations since the Biblical days. However, I would encourage you to study and discover another nation where slavery existed where the treatment was so inhumane and led to a system that established those citizens as second class citizens for the following 100 years after that. If you think that history was “re-written” I challenge you to have dialogue with older generations of African Americans who actually were witness to these situations. (i.e. my parents who grew up in the heart of the Jim Crow or other people who can share stories like Mamie Bradley)

  • james

    thank god he made these movies
    i have them all on dvd thank you.

  • hueygunner

    Freed Black slaves were free to move after the Civil War so what kept them in the “racist” Old South? Could it have been those Yankee laws passed after the Civil War?

    • UncleWalty

      For one, many former slaves stayed in the south as sharecroppers, since farming was a trade well-known to many of them, as were the local weather, soil, and growing conditions; why leave a place where there is readily available work? For another, given the prejudices of the time, it was generally safer to remain in an area where they were known to the local populace, rather than take a chance on being perceived as a threat by another community. And lastly, what the h*ll were they supposed to do? Walk to New York or Massachusetts, or back to Africa? How would they pay for their travel, food, lodging, assuming any of that would be available to them, which it generally was not? Think before you ask these questions…

  • AshannaK

    Let us not forget that Mr. Wolper produced the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I met the gentleman while working there. Everyone benefited from his being among us. He will be missed.

  • Richard

    The biggest historical fraud in a made for TV mini series, people believe its accurate because it TV, how sad.

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