As a psychology major at Yale University, Bruce Geller discovered his real calling — theater.
He started his career writing scripts for shows on the fledgling DuMont Television Network in the early 1950s. He also tried his hand at writing librettos for several musicals, none of which were successful. Looking for better opportunities, he left his native New York City for Los Angeles. This proved to be a move in Bruce’s favor. Soon, he was writing scripts for a number of popular Western TV series, including Zane Grey Theater, Rawhide, Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rifleman. He was given a co-producer credit for the 1964-65 season of Rawhide.
With the job security that Rawhide provided, Bruce began developing another kind of series. In 1966, he conceived, wrote, directed and produced the ultra-suave and often complicated TV series Mission: Impossible. The show, known for its iconic “self-destructing” tape player, ran for seven seasons on CBS, garnering over two dozen Emmy nominations. Bruce himself was awarded two Emmys.
In 1967, one year after Mission: Impossible premiered, Bruce wrote, directed and produced another hit series — Mannix starring Mike Connors as the title tough private investigator. Sometimes focusing of socially-relevant issues, Mannix was recognized with over a dozen Emmy nominations in the course of its eight season network run.
Bruce made his only venture into feature films in 1973, directing and producing James Coburn and Walter Pidgeon in the pickpocket caper Harry in Your Pocket. This was one of the last films in Pidgeon’s illustrious career.
Bruce developed an interest in flight, specifically small aircraft. In 1974, he was killed when the twin-engine Cessna Skymaster, in which he was a passenger, ran into fog and crashed near Santa Barbara, California. He was 47 years old.