Paul Eckstein Dies: ‘Godfather Of Harlem’ Co-Creator Was 59

Paul Eckstein, co-creator and executive producer of the drama series Godfather of Harlem and an actor who appeared multiple times on Star Trek: Voyager and other shows, has died. He was 59. A spokesperson for MGM+ and ABC Signature told Deadline that he died unexpectedly in his sleep on June 6.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our brilliant colleague, Paul Eckstein,” MGM+ and ABC Signature said in a statement. “Working on the series was a labor of love for Paul, who based the show in part on his family’s personal history. Paul was passionate, a creative force, known for his kindness, and generosity. He was a mentor and friend to many, and he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and his longtime collaborator Chris Brancato.”

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Family and friends described Eckstein as “many things: a celebrated storyteller, a devoted husband, and a faithful friend, but his most important role was Father.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Eckstein graduated with honors from Brown University, earning degrees in international relations and creative writing. Following graduation, he began working in New York City theater, where he was a founding member of the Naked Angels Theater Company, and featured on Broadway, Shakespeare in the Park and Minnesota’s Guthrie Theater.

He went on to act in television and film, appearing multiple times on Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and other series including Law & Order, The Steve Harvey Show and 413 Hope St. As a film producer, Eckstein co-produced MGM’s Hoodlum.

Before co-creating Godfather of Harlem, along with his writing partner Brancato, Eckstein led the writers room on the first year of the hit Netflix drama Narcos. Eckstein also wrote and produced the Disney/ABC biblical series Of Kings and Prophets on location in South Africa. His other writing credits include Street TimeLaw & Order: Criminal Intent and The Dead Zone.

When Eckstein was not creating shows highlighting history, high stakes and stories from people of color, he could be found mentoring the next generation of diverse storytellers.

“As we bid farewell to the brilliant force and light that was Paul Eckstein, we honor the multifaceted man who demonstrated an unwavering love for his family, a deep curiosity and compassion for humanity, and a commitment to sharing stories that opened the hearts and minds of the world,” his family said in a statement.

Eckstein is survived by his sons, Sebastian and Marley Eckstein; and his wife, Hala Khouri; along with extended family.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Paul Eckstein Scholarship Fund and the Ghetto Film School.

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