Thursday, August 28, 2014

RIP Bill Stratton

William (Bill) Stratton, 83, Faria Beach, Ventura. The world lost one of its most creative minds on August 20, 2014. Bill Stratton, aka Kahuna to his grandchildren, paddled out from his beach house one last time, with his children by his side, the sound of classical music in his ears and the taste of a martini on his lips.
 
An original ad man of the early 1960's, Bill was responsible for developing the persona of characters like Tony the Tiger for television advertising. The leaden skies of Chicago and the high mortality rate of the advertising business led him to California and screen writing for television. He wrote several movies-of-the-week, including Voyage of the Yes, collaborating with Johnny Cash on The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James and The Baron and the Kid, writing and producing American Harvest, writing A Son's Promise and the final installment of the Gunsmoke series: The Long Ride. Bill was the longest standing writer for the original Hawaii Five-0 television series, worked as a staff writer for Aaron Spelling on shows such as Vegas and Hart to Hart, and contributed dozens of scripts to other shows including Rockford Files, Harry O, Blue Knight, Mod Squad, and Storefront Lawyers. He created the pilot and wrote scripts for the series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, starring Stacey Keach. He continued writing manuscripts and memoirs in his retirement. He received the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe award for mystery writing in 1983.
 
Bill was popular in the television industry for his ability to create original stories with authentic dialogue, repudiating the trite and formulaic. The well spring for his creativity was the Pacific Ocean where he surfed or swam almost daily at his beloved Pitas Point for the past 5 decades. He was an avid tennis player -- one of the original founders of the Ojai Valley Racquet Club. For those who knew him, his door was always open: with wickedly strong coffee brewing, he was open to frank discussions on topics including history, politics and personal development.
 
Born in 1930 in Kansas City, Missouri, Bill served in the Korean War, was a journalism major at Kansas State University, was married to Donna Lee MacDougall and then Sandra Freeman. His surviving family comprises Hall and Alicia Stratton of Oak View, their sons Layne and Robert; Anna Stratton of Washington DC; Shelby and Emily Fleming of Alexandria VA, their son Nathan; and Sheryl Stratton of Falls Church VA, her children, Jay, Sarah and Sabrina; Doug and Liz Freeman of Basalt CO and Ventura; and Bob and Debbie Freeman of Salt Lake City UT, their sons Jacob and Andrew.
 
He requested his obituary state: The curmudgeon of Faria Beach succumbed after a long heroic struggle with poison oak during which he learned that "that man is rich who has a scratch for every itch."
 
A memorial service will be held this fall. Please contact sheryl.stratton@verizon.net for details.
 
 
STRATTON, Bill (William Stratton)
Born: 11/11/1930, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 8/20/2014, Faria Brach, Ventura, California, U.S.A.
 
Bill Stratton’s western – screenwriter:
Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (TV) – 1993

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