Ed Spielman: The Dynamic Creative Talent Behind “Kung Fu” and Many More of Hollywood’s Finest Productions

Herbie J Pilato

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

[Author's Note: All quotes and commentary that appear in this article were culled from interviews the author conducted with those individuals mentioned.]

Prolific writer/producer Ed Spielman is responsible for some of the most innovative television shows in the history of the medium. Synonymous with landmark TV programming, Spielman has created, written, and/or executive produced over 300 hours of prime-time entertainment with immediate recognition worldwide.

As the creator of the groundbreaking TV series Kung Fu (which originally aired on ABC from 1972 to 1975), Spielman, with his dear friend and colleague Howard Friedlander, composed a 90-minute pilot movie that went on to become America’s first martial arts film — one that ignited a worldwide martial arts boom. An Emmy award-winning Eastern Western and now contemporary classic, Kung Fu has been cited by Entertainment Weekly as “one of the 100 best television shows of all time.”

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

[The show has also recently inspired The CW network to showcase a reboot of the original Kung Fu series with a contemporary twist.]

Additionally, Spielman has created the Emmy award-winning series The Young Riders, which returned the Western to prime-time TV (on ABC, 1989). The Young Riders pilot earned Spielman the coveted Western Heritage Award (which he has won four times) and, for his contribution, the prolific scribe was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (an honor shared by such luminaries as John Wayne).

In a career that now spans several decades, Spielman’s creations have been seen internationally and produced by virtually every major motion picture studio and television network in existence.

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

Another of his television series, Dead Man’s Gun (which originally aired on Showtime from 1997 to 1999 - and which Spielman produced in partnership with MGM Productions, Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, Howard Spielman, and Sugar Entertainment, Ltd.) was nominated for three cable ACE Awards (including Best Dramatic Series) and received six LEO nominations.

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

Spielman has the rare distinction of being the only Writer/Producer in Television history to have created and placed a Western series on the air — every decade for thirty years — at a time when Westerns were not even in vogue.

Spielman is also the author of a biography about adventurer and health philosopher Joseph L. Greenstein, titled, The Mighty Atom: The Spiritual Journey Of Joseph L. Greenstein — World’s Strongest Man. This book, which is in its second edition, has been published worldwide, and was chosen by the American Library Association as “one of the year’s best books.”

Besides the aforementioned four Western Heritage Awards, Spielman is the recipient of the Writers Guild of Canada Top Ten Award of Excellence and has been presented with an Honorary Life Membership in The Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. Ed is currently an Executive Producer/Writer with Legendary Pictures/Universal and is developing his original Kung Fu television series into a feature film. A life-long classic car enthusiast, Spielman lives in Southern California with his wife Bonnie, a house full of pet animals, and a small fleet of vintage cars.

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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