LOS ANGELES — According to a family spokesman, John Langley, the creator of the long-running TV series “Cops,” died during a road race in Mexico.
Langley died after an apparent heart attack during the Coast to Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250 off-road event in Baja, Mexico, on Saturday, according to family spokeswoman Pam Gollum. He was 78 years old at the time.
When it premiered in 1989, “Cops” was one of the first reality shows on television, and it went on to become an institution over the course of 32 seasons. Langley and his co-producer Malcolm Barbour had been shopping the concept for years before landing it on the nascent Fox network.
The show was known for accompanying cops on long, monotonous nights in patrol vehicles or in fevered foot pursuits, from deputies in the Deep South to policemen from large metropolitan police agencies.
Its eccentricities, such as the frequently shirtless suspects and the reggae theme tune “Bad Boys,” provided material for standup comedians and were frequently parodied in films, TV programs, and songs.
It was panned for having a skewed, pro-police viewpoint, and Paramount yanked it off the air permanently last year following international demonstrations after the shooting of George Floyd.
Langley grew up in Los Angeles after being born in Oklahoma City. In the early 1960s, he graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and served in the United States Army.
Langley has worked as a producer on the non-fiction programs “Jail,” “Vegas Strip,” and “Anatomy of a Crime,” as well as the 2009 feature “Brooklyn’s Finest,” directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Richard Gere and Don Cheadle.
He was an avid off-road racer who regularly competed in events like the one he did on Saturday.
Langley is survived by his son Morgan, who runs their production firm, Langley Productions; another son, Zak; two daughters, Sara Langley Dews and Jennifer Blair; his wife Maggie; and seven grandkids.