SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Aug. 16, 2014) -- Alan Landsburg, a television writer, producer and director who in later years focused on improving horse racing as a racing commissioner and industry leader, died Thursday at the age of 81.
Mr. Landsburg graduated from New York University with a degree in communications and then honed his skills in the U.S. Army as a writer, director, and producer of special events for the American Forces Network in Europe. Following his discharge in 1956, this broadcasting experience helped him become one of the youngest directors ever when he joined the NBC radio affiliate in New York at the age of 21. From there he moved to Los Angeles in 1961 to join the new Wolper Productions, which was his opening into television.
An Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee, he was responsible for more than 2,000 hours of network programming, including the “Biography” series, “National Geographic” specials, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” and “That’s Incredible.” He frequently addressed important social issues in his films. Spousal abuse, rape, religious intolerance, child sexual abuse, breast cancer, and AIDS were some of the important subjects that Mr. Landsburg treated with candor, intelligence, and sensitivity. “Bill” starred Mickey Rooney as a man with mental retardation struggling to re-integrate into society after being institutionalized.
Mr. Landsburg purchased his first share in a thoroughbred in 1977 and went on to own and race more than 400 horses. In 1993 he became a founding director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), which sought better representation for the owners of California racehorses. He also served on a number of volunteer committees for the California Horse Racing Board. He was appointed to the CHRB in 2000 by Governor Gray Davis to a term that expired January 1, 2004. He served as chairman in 2001 and 2002.
Mr. Landsburg donated his time and expertise in the production of several videos promoting the horse-racing industry, including one for the CHRB titled “Protecting Racing’s Integrity.” He also made a video for the TOC that demonstrated to the Legislature just how important racing is to California.
"Our industry has lost a true leader and compassionate friend,” said CHRB Chairman Chuck Winner. “Alan always strived to do what was best for people and animals alike. I personally, like so many of us, will miss him."