David Mills Dead at 48

David Mills, a successful journalist who went on to write television shows including “The Wire,” died Tuesday of a brain aneurysm.   He was 48.


When David Simon, a Baltimore writer, was adapting his book “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” into a television series, he knew whom he wanted to help him. “I got in touch with David right away — he was the kid in college who was always pausing to watch episodes of ‘Hill Street Blues’ and ‘St. Elsewhere.’ He loved TV,” Simon recalled Wednesday of the friend he made 30 years ago at the University of Maryland.

Simon, who collaborated with Mills on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” and a number of other award-winning television dramas, had the difficult task of holding a memorial service Wednesday for his friend on the set of “Treme,” an upcoming HBO series set in New Orleans.

Mills, an executive producer and writer on the series, was supervising the production late Tuesday afternoon in the famed Cafe Du Monde when he collapsed and never regained consciousness. His family and colleagues said the cause of death was a brain aneurysm. He was 48.

“He was an enormous talent,” Simon, who co-created “Treme,” said in an obituary he wrote for distribution by HBO. “He loved words and he loved an argument — but not in any angry or mean-spirited way. He loved to argue ideas. He delighted in it, and he was confident that something smarter and deeper always came from a good argument.”


At The Post, Mills stepped into a national debate on race when he wrote a 1992 profile of the rapper Sister Souljah. Souljah, an activist on civil rights issues, caused an uproar when she told Mills in an interview, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”

She was talking in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots following the infamous police beating of Rodney King. Bill Clinton, then running for president, joined the fray, criticizing Souljah for condoning racial violence, comparing her to David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan, and chastising the Rev. Jesse Jackson for inviting her to speak to his organization. Clinton was applauded for standing up to a loyal component of the Democratic Party. A “Sister Souljah moment” became part of the political lexicon.

Sad news, indeed. While I can’t say that I knew his name, “The Wire” is on the short list for best-written show in the history of television.

via Radley Balko

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Very sad to hear of his death at such a young age at the prime of his life. I don’t have HBO at home, but have been watching “The Wire” DVDs via Netflix. Just finished season 3. I would have to agree that it is probably one of the greatest series on TV.

  2. 11B40 says:


    If I may veer off your main topic and add a comment about Sister Souljah’s comment. If one looks at the US Department of Justice’s crime statistics, one will see that a white person has a much higher probability of being killed by a black person than a black person has of being killed by a white person.