USC Annenberg remembers adjunct professor and writing coach Mike Daniels
Posted April 14, 2013
Long-time Channel 2 newswriter and producer and adjunct broadcast journalism professor and writing coach Mike Daniels died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 76. (Watch ATVN's coverage.)
“Mike was one of the most beloved teachers at USC and one of the most respected broadcast journalists in Los Angeles,” said journalism professor Joe Saltzman, who brought Daniels to USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism in 1974 to teach a class on television news production. “When I left CBS to create the broadcasting sequence at USC, one of the first persons I called was Mike to see if he would be interested in teaching. He jumped at the chance.”
A little known fact about Daniels was that he was the inspiration for one of the most popular characters in popular culture. Daniels was good friends with the brother of playwright Neil Simon and ended up being the inspiration for one of the best-known Simon characters in “The Odd Couple” – the fussy and precise Felix who was called a “CBS newswriter” in the original Broadway play and was the foil for the messy sportswriter who shared an apartment with him. The play went on to become a successful movie with Jack Lemmon playing the part and then a long-running TV series with Tony Randall as Felix.
“Daniels was Felix in the newsroom. All hell could be breaking around him, complete chaos with people screaming and running around, but Mike would sit there in the eye of the newsroom hurricane quietly and patiently putting the newscast together. He never lost his cool or his temper and was a calming force in any breaking news situation,” Saltzman said.
Daniels was born on May 27, 1936, and graduated from USC in 1958 with a degree in telecommunications. He worked as a news producer and manager at KNXT/KCBS-TV for nearly 40 years, having joined the station while a senior at USC. He worked on every news broadcast from early m