The creator and executive producer of the NBC cops-and-robbers juggernaut Law & Order, Dick Wolf presides over one of the most successful franchises in TV history.

Born in the city, Dick Wolf's early career was spent in advertising. Wolf later moved to Los Angeles to pursue a screenwriting career, and worked as a writer on a handful of forgettable films in the late '70s and early '80s, before landing a gig writing for Hill Street Blues. A stint as a writer and supervising producer on Miami Vice followed, but Wolf's career really shifted into high gear in 1990 when he sold NBC on the weekly crime drama Law & Order. Over two decades later, the original series and the spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent are syndication institutions. But not every Wolf show has endured. Two spin-offs, Conviction and Trial by Jury, were canceled during their first seasons. However, Law & Order is beginning to show signs of decline, with the original series and Criminal Intent being cancelled in 2011, leaving <em<SVU as the lone survivor.

The L&O franchise is a massive moneymaker in syndication-you'll find the shows on the TV dial in 25 countries around the world-and in the U.S. they air virtually nonstop on TNT and USA. Wolf's ripped-from-the-tabs formula, which relies on recently-reported real life events to inspire plots, has helped the show stay current, as has Wolf's revolving-door approach to casting, which has featured every single actor ever.

Wolf married his third wife, Noelle Lippman, in June 2006. He has three children, Olivia, Sarina, and Elliot, with second wife Christine Marburg. [Image via Getty]