Jerome Coopersmith Dies: ‘Hawaii Five-O’ Writer, Broadway Playwright Was 97

Jerome Coopersmith, who wrote more than 30 installments of the classic 1960s-70s police drama Hawaii Five-O and received a Tony Award nomination for his book for the 1965 Harold Prince-directed Sherlock Holmes musical Baker Street, died Friday in Rochester, NY. He was 97.

His family announced his death.

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After earning a Purple Heart at the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, Coopersmith also wrote, among other stage works, the first act of the 1966 three-part Mike Nichols-directed musical The Apple Tree, starring Barbara Harris and Alan Alda. The musical was revived for Broadway in 2006 by the Roundabout Theatre Company in a production that starred Kristin Chenoweth, Brian D’Arcy James and Marc Kudisch.

But Coopersmith was most prolific as a television writer. From his early days in the late 1940s and early 1950s contributing to such series as The Gabby Hayes Show, Johnny Jupitor and the religion-themed Lamp Unto My Feet, Coopersmith wrote more than 100 episodes until his final credits in the late 1980s with Spenser: For Hire and A Man Called Hawk.

From 1968-76, Coopersmith wrote 30 regular episodes of CBS’ Hawaii Five-O starring Jack Lord and James MacArthur, as well as two feature-length episodes.

Following the immensely popular Hawaii-based crime series, Coopersmith created the short-lived 1977 CBS newspaper drama series The Andros Targets and wrote episodes of Medical Center and Nurse.

His holiday-themed TV shows included 1977’s Have I Got a Christmas For You, 1979’s An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler in the Scooge-like role and, most enduringly, the 1974 oft-repeated Rankin-Bass animated special ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He also wrote a popular 1969 children’s book titled A Chanukah Fable for Christmas.

Coopersmith is survived by daughters Amy Coopersmith Lauria and Jill Andrea Lambert, their husbands, and other extended family. One of his grandchildren, the Politico journalist Kyle Cheney, posted a tribute to Coopersmith on social media.

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