Wolper died at home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease, his spokesman says. Wolper produced "L.A. Confidential" and the children's classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," as well as the opening and closing ceremonies at the 1984 Olympic Games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He's probably best-known, though, for his television work, most notably for producing the 1977 mini-series "Roots" on ABC. From the early L.A. Times obit:
During his long career, Wolper oversaw the production of more than 700 films that have won more than 150 awards, including two Oscars, 50 Emmys, seven Golden Globes and five Peabody Awards.
Recognized by TV Guide in 1998 as one of the "45 People Who Made a Difference" in shaping the medium of television — and one of TV’s top eight creative forces — Wolper was described as a producer whose "many contributions to broadcast history have embedded themselves in the American psyche."
Among Wolper's documentary series and series of specials were "The Story of," "Biography," "Hollywood and the Stars," "The March of Time," "Appointment With Destiny," the "National Geographic Specials" and "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau."
"Roots," based on Alex Haley's book of his family's travels from Africa through American slavery, opened on its first night as the sixth-most-watched program in television history, earning a 40.5 rating with a 61 share. By the final night, it had a 51.1 rating with a 71 share, the LAT says. Wolper was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars in 1985.