Monday, July 11, 2011

Pioneering TV Sitcom Writer Sam Denoff Dies (LATimes.com)

Times

A writer for classic television sitcoms such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "That Girl" has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sam Denoff was 83.

Denoff and his writing partner, Bill Persky, had written for shows such as "McHale's Navy" when they sold a script in 1963 for "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966, the piece notes. Denoff and Persky later shared two Emmys for the series and went on to work on the show as story editors and producers, the story says.

"When they came upon the scene, they saved my life," said series creator Carl Reiner of Denoff and his writing partner. Van Dyke noted Denoff was "a real bon vivant. Sam knew all the best restaurants. ... They don't make guys like that anymore."

Denoff met Persky when working at radio station WNEW, for which they wrote jingles and material for a disc jockey. They moved to California in 1961 and started in TV, eventually creating the series "That Girl" for Marlo Thomas. Denoff wrote the lyrics to the show's opening theme.

"Sam was my greatest convert to feminism as part of our great adventure bringing the first single girl to television," Thomas said in a statement Sunday.

Denoff, who had Alzheimer's disease, died Friday. He is survived by his wife, their two children, and two children from his first marriage, the story notes.

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