John Langley, the creator of the iconic show “Cops,” has died of a heart attack during an off-road race in Baja, Mexico.
According to the AP, family spokeswoman Pam Golum said he suffered a fatal heart attack during the Coast-to-Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250, an off-road race in Baja, Mexico. He was 78 years old.
Langley, sometimes referred to as the “Godfather of Reality Television,” became famous for “Cops,” which debuted in 1989 and made history as the first reality show on air.
The show became an institution, and went on for 32 seasons and over 1,000 episodes spanning 31 years before it was cancelled by the Paramount Network in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin.
The show initially aired on the budding Fox network, and featured content following police officers making arrests, drug busts and chasing down suspects. The show’s reggae theme song “Bad Boys” has since become an iconic cultural reference.
Langley told the New York Times in 2007: “You can be entertained by it, you can be disgusted, but it is what happened. It wasn’t staged, it wasn’t scripted. I didn’t put anyone on an island and tell them what to do.”
Langley was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Los Angeles. He served in the U.S. Army in the 1960s and was stationed in Panama during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After creating the show Cops, he went on to produce other law enforcement-related productions such as the 2009 film “Brooklyn’s Finest,” as well as the non-fiction series “Jail,” “Vegas Strip,” and “Anatomy of Crime.”
Langley was an off-road racing enthusiast and often participated in events.