Television legend Donald Bellisario discusses writing during podcast

May 21, 2020

Donald P. Bellisario, a legendary creator in Hollywood and the namesake for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State, is the featured guest in the latest episode of a podcast produced by the Bellisario College.

The COMMversations series was established by the Young Alumni Council in 2017 as a means to provide advice and networking opportunities. It has broaden and grown with episodes focusing on the people and programs of the Bellisario College. Recent episodes have included a roundtable of juniors and conversations with Ben Feller, who formerly covered The White House for The Associated Press, and Steve Jones, an instructor in the Bellisario College and longtime broadcast voice of Penn State football and men’s basketball.

In the latest episode, Bellisario focuses on writing in general and his current project, “Spitfire,” a World War II project set in 1945 and focusing on a set group of female pilots. Dean Marie Hardin of the Bellisario College serves as moderator for the podcast.

The episode and others may be found at Penn State COMMversations on iTunes. Complementary videos of the podcasts have been added for recent episodes as well. Future episodes will continue the variety of topics featuring alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Bellisario, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Penn State in 1961, was the creator of programs — including “Magnum, P.I.,” “Quantum Leap” and “NCIS” — that changed the landscape of U.S. television. In April 2017, Bellisario and his wife, Vivienne, committed $30 million to support communications students and faculty and to establish the state-of-the-art Donald P. Bellisario Media Center. The Penn State Board of Trustees expressed its appreciation by renaming the college the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

The Bellisario Media Center remains under construction in the heart of the University Park campus with a fall 2020 completion date anticipated, and classes beginning in the facility during the 2020-21 academic year.

Bellisario, born during the Great Depression in western Pennsylvania, launched his remarkable career after graduating from Penn State. Bellisario first enrolled in 1953 but left to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned four years later with his young family, earned his degree in journalism, and worked for the Centre Daily Times.

After graduation, Bellisario built a reputation as an innovator and leader in advertising. After rising to the rank of senior vice president of the famous Bloom Agency, he made the leap, during the mid-1970s, to Hollywood.

Bellisario’s work has been honored with the Edgar Allan Poe writing award and multiple Emmy nominations. He was also named 2001 Producer of the Year by the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

Bellisario was named a Distinguished Alumnus, the highest honor offered by Penn State, in 2001. He holds an honorary doctorate of arts from Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has also been honored with the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund Globe and Anchor Award in 2002 and the Red Cross Spirit Award.

Last Updated June 14, 2021