Stephen Kandel, a prolific and influential screenwriter in the television industry, passed away on October 21, 2021, at the age of 96. His daughter, Elizabeth Englander, confirmed that he died of natural causes at his Boston apartment. Kandel’s impact on television writing spanned over four decades, with his work ranging from classic shows like Sea Hunt and Star Trek to more modern hits like Batman, Barnaby Jones, Mannix, and MacGyver. His diverse resume also included writing multiple episodes for other popular shows such as The Millionaire, The Rogues, Gidget, I Spy, Ironside, The Wild Wild West, It Takes a Thief, Dan August, The New Mike Hammer, Mission: Impossible, Room 222, The Magician, Medical Center, Cannon, Hawaii Five-O, and Hart to Hart.
In addition to his writing contributions, Kandel also co-created Iron Horse, a notable drama that aired from 1966 to 1968 and starred actors such as Dale Robertson, Gary Collins, and Ellen Burstyn. Tom Weaver, in his 2005 book “Earth vs. the Sci-Fi Filmmakers,” described Kandel’s impressive portfolio as a “Baby Boomer’s dream list of must-see TV.”
Kandel was involved in 14 episodes of the popular adventure series Sea Hunt from 1958-1961 and wrote two memorable episodes of Star Trek for the original NBC show. His Star Trek episodes featured guest star Roger C. Carmel as the lovable con artist Harry Mudd. Kandel once explained to Starlog magazine that he had the idea of creating a traveling salesman and con man character, envisioning an interstellar con artist who hustled his way through various scenarios.
One of his notable contributions was his involvement in five episodes of the iconic TV series Batman, including the action-packed False Face installment and the “Zodiac Crimes” three-parter that centered around popular villains like the Joker and the Penguin. Kandel also worked on 11 episodes of Mannix and an impressive 17 entries in the beloved series MacGyver. He even produced the show during his time at ABC.
Born in New York City on April 30, 1927, Stephen David Kandel was the son of Aben Kandel, a writer known for his work on films such as “Manhattan Moon” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” Stephen Kandel’s career began early, writing screenplays for films before transitioning to television. Throughout his career, he was responsible for significant contributions to the film industry, writing screenplays for films like “Battle of the Coral Sea” and “Cannon for Cordoba.”
Kandel’s success and influence extended beyond television and film. He shared a Humanitas Award for the 1979 NBC telefilm “Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love,” which told the story of an autistic child and starred James Farentino and Kathryn Harrold. After retiring from active writing, Kandel also published a book in 2020 titled “The Lyin’ King: A Tragical Tale of Tawdry Trumpery.”
Stephen Kandel is survived by his wife of 66 years, Anne, as well as his children Jessica, Anthony, Elizabeth, and Joanna, and his 11 grandchildren. His sister, the late Lenore Kandel, was a renowned poet of the Beat Generation. Kandel’s legacy lives on through his extensive body of work and his impact on the television industry. He will be remembered as a trailblazer and a talented storyteller whose contributions to the entertainment industry have left an indelible mark.