Television

Thomas L. Miller, ‘Family Matters’ and ‘Full House’ Producer, Dies at 79

Thomas L. Miller, one of the co-founders of Miller-Boyett Productions who produced some of of the most influential sitcoms in television history such as “Family Matters” and “Full House,” has died of complications related to heart disease. He was 79.

Miller died on April 5 in Salisbury, Conn., according to his family and longtime partner Robert L. Boyett.

The extensive list of TV credits he accrued over his seven-decade career also includes other “TGIF” hits like “Perfect Strangers” and “Step by Step.” Via Miller-Boyet productions (which began as Miller-Milkis in 1969), he also had a hand in family-oriented hits such as “Bosom Buddies,” “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy” and “Laverne and Shirley.”

Miller moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment in 1962, scoring his break as a dialogue coach for legendary film director Billy Wilder. During his time with Wilder, Miller worked on such classic films as “Irma la Douce” and “The Fortune Cookie.” The two remained friends until Wilder’s death in 2002.

Following that, Miller moved to 20th Century Fox, working as assistant in charge of television program development under William Self. There, he co-created the sitcom “Nanny and the Professor,” which ran for three seasons on ABC in the early 1970s. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Paramount Studios to become vice president of development, overseeing development on comedy, drama and TV movies. During his tenure, he developed almost 20 TV movies, as well as series such as “The Odd Couple” and “Love, American Style.”

Miller then left the studio ranks to embark on a producing career of his own, first partnering with Edward K. Milkis and Garry Marshall to form their own production company which delivered some of the aforementioned comedy hits, as well as the one-hour legal drama “Petrocelli.” On the film front, Miller-Milkis produced the 1976 Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor comedy thriller “Silver Streak,” and the Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase romantic comedy “Foul Play.”

Miller then teamed up with Boyett on another production venture, signing a deal with Warner Bros. TV predecessor Lorimar Television. Miller and Boyett went on to produce “The Hogan Family,” “Full House,” and “Perfect Strangers,” among other series, all through the Lorimar deal. The duo, alongside producer William Bickley and partner Michael Warren, provided a number of shows for ABC’s “TGIF” Friday comedy lineup.

Warner Bros. Television Group released a statement on Miller’s passing, describing him as “infused with irrepressible passion and love for bringing joy to others through his life’s work.”

“He was at once a thoughtful and tasteful executive, an extremely talented writer, and a highly successful producer whose many hit series will live long in the collective memory of fans around the world. Everyone at Warner Bros. Television Group and the ‘Fuller House’ family will miss him deeply, and we send our love to his longtime partner Bob Boyett and to the Miller family,” read the statement.

In 1996, Miller and Boyett officially joined forces with Warren to form Miller-Boyett-Warren Productions, producing the final seasons of “Family Matters” and “Step By Step” plus one-season comedy “Meego” for CBS. The final series the trio produced was the ABC comedy “Two of a Kind,” starring “Full House” breakouts Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Miller’s final TV credit was on the Netflix “Full House” sequel “Fuller House,” which saw Miller-Boyett serving as the production company once again alongside Warner Horizon Scripted Television. After premiering in 2016, “Fuller House” is set to end later in 2020 after five seasons on the streamer.

In addition to his stellar film and TV career, Miller also produced for the stage after moving to New York City in 2000, winning his share of a Tony Award in 2011 for “War Horse.” He was among the nominations again last year for producing “Tootsie.”

Miller is survived by Boyett, his partner of 40 years. His private burial will take place in his home state of Milwaukee, where he was born in 1940.

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