If you have ever been sucked into the vortex of an eight-hour "Law & Order" marathon, then you have Dick Wolf to thank for that.
The legendary TV producer specializes in crime dramas that exceed all commercial expectations. In 1990, Wolf created the police procedural and legal drama "Law & Order," which aired for 21 seasons, making it the second-longest-running dramatic series in TV history. The show, which also spawned at least ten spin-offs, was nominated for the most consecutive Emmy Awards of any primetime drama series. Wolf was born in 1946 and began his professional career as a copywriter for a New York City advertising firm. Among his achievements, he helped create the "I'm Cheryl, fly me" campaign for National Airlines as well as the toothpaste slogan "You can't beat Crest for fighting cavities." Chasing Hollywood fame, he then relocated to Los Angeles and started his TV career as a staff writer on "Hill Street Blues." Early on, his talent was evident, and he received his first Emmy nomination for an episode on which he was the only writer. Later, Wolf moved on to take the helm of the iconic 1980's show "Miami Vice." Besides TV, Wolf has written four books, including three crime thrillers.
Before Wolf was selling ads and cranking out TV shows, he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He arrived in 1965, having already benefited from an elite education. Before UPenn, Wolf attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, which has been ranked as the best private high school in the country. He also graduated from the historic Gunnery School in rural Connecticut. While at UPenn, Wolf focused his studies on books and authors, while balancing his time with being a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. In 1969, he received a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Wolf's success on the West Coast has not caused him to forget the influence of his East Coast days as a college student. Over the years, he's been a generous benefactor of his alma mater, first supporting the Cinema Studies program at UPenn Arts & Sciences before establishing a professorship in 2007. A decade later, Wolf broke out his checkbook again to endow the Penn Humanities Forum, which is now known as the Wolf Humanities Center. As of 2017, the Wolf Humanities Center is Penn’s main hub for interdisciplinary humanities research. Each year, the Center addresses different hot-button issues by organizing a program of lectures, seminars, performances, and film series. According to James English, Wolf Humanities Center Director and a Professor of English, "The Wolf gift stands as recognition of the Forum’s achievements and an endorsement of our ambition to make Penn a major hub for regional, national, and global humanities research."