Donald Bellisario


Donald Bellisario Biography

Donald Paul Bellisario (born August 8, 1935) is an American television producer and screenwriter who created and sometimes wrote episodes for the TV series Magnum, P.I., Airwolf, Quantum Leap, JAG, and NCIS. He has often included military veterans as characters.

Early life

Bellisario was born in Charleroi or Cokeburg, Pennsylvania (sources differ) to an Italian father Albert and a Serbian mother Dana (née Lap?evi"?) Bellisario who was born in Gamberale, Abruzzo, Italy. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1955 to 1959, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

Bellisario earned a bachelors degree in journalism at Pennsylvania State University in 1961. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus"?the highest honor bestowed on a graduate of Penn State. In 2006, Bellisario endowed a $1 million Trustee Matching Scholarship in the Penn State College of Communications. He recalled:

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Bellisario became an advertising copywriter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1965, and three years later became creative director of the Bloom Agency in Dallas, Texas. After rising to senior vice president after eight years, he then moved to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting and production.

Television career

After working under such television producers as Glen A. Larson, Bellisario adopted some of their production techniques, most notably utilizing a small pool of actors which he uses for his many productions.

He has created several successful TV series, including Magnum, P.I., Airwolf, Quantum Leap, JAG, and NCIS. Less-known creations include Tales of the Gold Monkey, Tequila & Bonetti, and First Monday. He was also a writer and producer on Black Sheep Squadron and the original Battlestar Galactica. He wrote and directed the 1988 feature film Last Rites.

One common theme running through the majority of Bellisario's work is the tendency for the protagonist to be a current or former member of the United States armed forces. Examples are Tom Selleck's character in Magnum, P.I., Thomas Magnum, who is a United States Naval Academy graduate, former SEAL officer and Vietnam veteran; Jan-Michael Vincent's character Stringfellow Hawke a top helicopter combat pilot in Airwolf, also a Vietnam veteran and is still looking for his brother who is missing in action; Commander Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr., the main character of JAG, who is also a Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Aviator looking for his father who is missing in action from the Vietnam War; and NCIS's main character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is a retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and Scout Sniper. Although the character Dr. Sam Beckett was not in the armed forces, the other main character in Quantum Leap, former Naval Aviator, Vietnam prisoner of war and retired Rear Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci, was. Another connection that some of his main characters have is August 8 birthdays. Notably, the last episode of Quantum Leap takes place on August 8, 1953, Sam Beckett's birthday, and the reverse of the last two digits of Bellisario's own birth year. Another common theme in Bellisario's work is religious undertones and comparisons. Bellisario received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004, which was shown in the Season 9 JAG episode "Trojan Horse".

In an interview with Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s, Bellisario said he was inspired to create Quantum Leap in 1988 after reading a novel about time travel. His service alongside John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was the basis for Quantum Leap's fifth season's double-length episode "Lee Harvey Oswald" (originally aired September 22, 1992). The episode supports the theory that Oswald carried out the assassination on his own, something Bellisario believes.

He heads the Los Angeles-based production company Belisarius Productions. The company's name recalls the Roman general Belisarius, of whose name Bellisario's own family name is an Italian-language variant.

Television series created

Years Title Notes
1980-1988 Magnum, P.I.
1982-1983 Tales of the Gold Monkey
1984-1987 Airwolf
1989-1993 Quantum Leap
1992 Tequila & Bonetti
1995-2005 JAG
2002 First Monday
2003-present NCIS Spin-off from JAG

Personal life

Bellisario was married to actress and producer Deborah Pratt, who starred in several of his shows. As of [year] he resides in Studio City, California with his fourth wife, Vivienne.

Bellisario has seven children. From his first marriage to Margaret (m. 1956"1975), he has four children, including daughters Joy Bellisario-Jenkins (born c. 1956) and Leslie Bellisario-Ingham (born c. 1961), son David Bellisario who is a producer on NCIS: Los Angeles, and daughter Julie Bellisario Watson who is a producer on NCIS. From his second marriage, to Lynn Halpern (1979"1984), he has a son, Michael Bellisario (born April 7, 1980), who had a recurring role as Midshipman Michael Roberts on JAG and played Charles 'Chip' Sterling on NCIS. From his third marriage, to Deborah Pratt (1984"1991), he has a son Nicholas Dante Bellisario and a daughter Troian Bellisario (born October 28, 1985), who guest starred on Quantum Leap and plays Timothy McGee's sister Sarah McGee on NCIS. She also has the role of Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars. From his marriage to Vivienne Bellisario (m. November 27, 1998), his stepson Sean Murray plays Timothy McGee on NCIS. Another stepson, Sean's younger brother Chad W. Murray, is an NCIS producer.

Technically he has 9 children - 7 biological and 2 step children.




This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Donald_Bellisario" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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