BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–Private funeral services were pending Wednesday for David L. Wolper, the Emmy-winning producer of the miniseries “Roots” and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Wolper, 82, died Tuesday night at his Beverly Hills home of heart disease and complications of Parkinson’s disease.

He was introduced to “Roots,” after meeting actress Ruby Dee at the Moscow Film Festival.

Wolper invited Dee and her husband Ossie Davis to dinner at his home, where the veteran actress talked about Haley’s then in-the-writing-process book, and convinced Wolper it had the potential for an authentic film on slavery in America, according to the producer’s web site.

Wolper then undertook a series of conversations with Haley’s lawyer, Lou Blau Barry Diller, head of ABC Television’s movie division and Martin Starger, president of ABC Entertainment that an adaptation of the novel would make a good television miniseries. Two years and three months after he made that first pitch, Wolper signed the deal to do “Roots” in August 1974. It would air in January 1977 and garner unprecedented Neilsen ratings with the finale still standing as the third-highest rated United States television program ever.

Its producer Wolper, who was a New York City native, studied cinema and journalism at USC, where he worked as business manager of the humor magazine “Wampus,” the editor of which was Art Buchwald, according to a biography on his website.

After graduating, he set up a television distribution company, but he eventually began producing documentaries, including the Oscar-nominated “The Race for Space.” He made his mark on television when he produced the miniseries “The Thorn Birds” and the widely acclaimed “Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel.

He went on to produce television shows including “Chico and the Man” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” along with a series of made-for-television films. Wolper also produced the classic film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “L.A. Confidential.”

Wolper served on the committee that helped bring the 1984 Olympics to Los Angeles, and he produced the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.

In 1985, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Wolper’s 50-year collection of papers, photographs, scripts and other memorabilia are housed at the David L. Wolper Center in USC’s Doheny Library.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria; children Mark, Michael and Leslie; and 10 grandchildren.