'Family Ties' Creator Gary David Goldberg Dies at Age 68

Goldberg Launched Career of Michael J. Fox, Won Emmys

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published June 24, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Gary David Goldberg, whose hit 1980s television sitcom “Family Ties” gave a warm portrayal of generational conflict and launched the acting career of Michael J. Fox, has died at age 68, his son-in-law said on Monday.

Goldberg died of a brain tumor on Saturday at his home in Montecito, California, said his son-in-law Rob Dubbin.

“Family Ties” aired between 1982 and 1989 and ranked second only to “The Cosby Show” in viewership between 1985 and 1987.

In 1987, Goldberg won an Emmy for his writing work on “Family Ties,” a show that also earned Fox three Emmy Awards for lead actor in a comedy series.

Born and raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Goldberg worked as a waiter, traveled the world with his future wife, Diana Meehan, and ran a daycare center in Northern California before, in his early 30s, he landed a job writing for TV’s “The Bob Newhart Show,” according to Goldberg’s website.

Goldberg went on to create his own company, UBU Productions, naming it after his Labrador Retriever, and it was through that company that he launched “Family Ties” in 1982 on NBC.

The show starred Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter as Steven and Elyse Keaton, a couple who were left-wing activists in the 1960s but went on to adopt a middle-class life as they raised four children in suburban Columbus, Ohio.

Much of the show’s humor centered on the clashing values between the former hippies and their teenage Republican son, Alex, played by Michael J. Fox. Alex admired then President Ronald Reagan and read the Wall Street Journal, to the chagrin of his parents.

The Keatons’ oldest daughter, Mallory, played by Justine Bateman, was less political than Alex, but differed from her mother by showing little interest in feminism.

In 2008, Goldberg told USA Today that “Family Ties” was “totally autobiographical in concept” for him.

“Diana and I were the parents, and our daughter Shana was as smart as Alex but could shop with Mallory,” he told the paper.

After “Family Ties,” Goldberg went on to co-create the television comedy “Spin City,” which debuted in 1996 and starred Fox as the deputy mayor of New York. The show ran until 2002.

Goldberg also produced the 2005 romantic comedy “Must Love Dogs” starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.

He is survived by his wife, a brother, two children and three grandchildren.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.