Donald Paul Bellisario is an American showrunner, producer, and screenwriter for long-running series NCIS that started in 2003. He also produced massive shows like Magnum P.I., Tales of Gold Monkey, Airwolf, Quantum Leap, and JAG. His works are often related to veterans and retirees from Military service.
He was born on August 8, 1935, in Cokeburg, Pennsylvania to Albert Jethro and Dana Lapčević. Before attending Pennsylvania State University in 1961, he first served in the U.S. Marine Corps and earned the title and rank sergeant. His time in the military lasted from 1955-1959, just about 4 years. Then, he took a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and graduated in 1961.
Before starting his career in television, he first worked as an advertising copywriter in 1965 before becoming the creative director of Bloom Agency. Eight years later, he became the senior vice-president of the company, leading him to move to Hollywood to become a producer and screenwriter.
Most of Donald’s work feature a lead character who was once in the Army and born on August 8 because of his background and own birthday. Before starting his own shows, he once worked with Glen A. Larson and Stephen J. Cannell, adapting to their methodology. In 2004, he finally had his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. When asked about his inspirations, he disclosed that he got his idea for Quantum Leap from a novel.
A dispute between Donald and his lead star in NCIS, Mark Harmon, is said to have caused his departure from the show despite keeping the title of “Executive Producer.” He also made a settlement with CBS after he filed a lawsuit against the broadcasting company for making a spin-off of the NCIS series, NCIS: Los Angeles, without his permission.
Family of Donald Bellisario
He is prominently known for the success of the TV series NCIS, that he has been producing throughout the years. However, the same could not be said for his marriages. In his years, Donald has had 4 marriages in total. He has 7 children in total plus 2 stepchildren.
He was first married to Margaret Schaffran and had 4 kids with her. Their union lasted from 1956 and ended in 1974 after their divorce. They are Joy Bellisario-Jenkins, Leslie Bellisario-Ingham, David Bellisario, and Julie Bellisario Watson. His children followed his footsteps and are now producers as well. David is a producer for NCIS: Los Angeles while Julie is a producer for NCIS.
His second marriage was with Lynn Halpern. They got married in 1979, five years after his first divorce and legally split up in 194. He had Michael Bellisario with her who used to play characters in his TV series JAG.
He was married to Deborah Pratt from 1984 to 1991 to whom he had Troian Bellisario and Nicolas Bellisario. Deborah was once in his TV series Airwolf. His children, especially Troian, also pursued her passion for TV and film. She appeared in minor roles in his multiple series and also plays one of the major characters in Pretty Little Liars. Together with Donald, she walked down the aisle on December 10, 2016, and married her long-time boyfriend and Suits star, Patrick J Adams.
His last marriage was with a woman named Vivienne. She is a mother of two before settling down with Donald. When they got married on November 27, 1998, Donald got two new stepsons under his care. They are Chad Murray, the producer of NCIS: Los Angeles and Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee in NCIS.
Net Worth and Achievements
He donated $1 million to Pennsylvania State University in 2006 as a Trustee Matching Scholarship in the Penn State College of Communications. He hopes to “ease the financial burden of other young men and women who have defended our country to attain their academic goals.” Due to his continued support for the university, the board of trustees renamed the College of Communications into Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.
All in all, he has endowed the facility a total of $30 million. He is estimated to have a net worth of $250 million and is currently running “Belisarius Productions.”