Emmy-winning screenwriter Richard Eustis dies at 86

Co-creator of the 1986 ABC sitcom “Head of the Class” and Emmy-winning screenwriter Richard Eustis died Oct. 30 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at the age of 86.

According to Variety, along with writer and director Michael Elias, Eustis made up one half of the creative duo Eustis and Elias, who produced the high school sitcom, which had five seasons from 1986 to 1991. The program followed a talented group of high school students participating in the individualized honors program at Millard Fillmore High School, a fictional high school in Manhattan played by Howard Hesseman.

Billy Connolly, who played Billy MacGregor, the character played by the actor who left the show before its fifth season, took his place. In 1992, Connolly’s efforts led to the network offering him a spin-off show called “Billy”, which Eustis and Elias co-created and which ran for 13 episodes.

According to a report from Variety, HBO Max, created by Amy Pocha and Seth Cohen, gave the original show a revival in 2021. Before HBO said in December of the previous year that it would not move forward with a second season, the reboot series ran for a ten-episode season on the streamer, releasing the full season at once on November 4.

Eustis has written episodes for various television programs, including “Scrubs”, “Tall Hopes”, “Eye to Eye”, and others. Before teaming up with creative partner Elias, he began his career writing for television for entertainers Dean Martin and John Denver on variety shows. For “An Evening with John Denver” in 1975, Eustis received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, on November 21, 1935, Eustis was born. Before moving to Los Angeles to start his television career, he previously worked as a journalist and was hailed as a football star as a youngster.

According to Variety, Eustis is survived by his wife, Tiana, sons John and Ronald, daughter Madeleine, son-in-law Marcel Samek, grandson Julian Eustis Samek, and granddaughters Colette Eustis Samek and Linh Eustis. His daughter-in-law, Oanh Ly, is also a screenwriter and television producer. He is predeceased by his eldest daughter Sandy Eustis, who was a screenwriter.