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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Larry Gelbart, Sit-Com Writer Dies

Writer Larry Gelbart has died at the age of 81. al-Reuters:

    Writer Larry Gelbart, who developed the hit television show "M*A*S*H" that uncovered a rich wellspring of comedy and pathos in war, died of cancer on Friday at age 81.

    He died in Los Angeles, his talent company, Creative Artists Agency told Reuters.

    The Emmy-winning "M*A*S*H" lasted 11 seasons, becoming one of the most honored shows in U.S. television history before ending in 1983, with a final episode that set a record by attracting more than 106 million viewers.

    Gelbart penned the 1972 pilot for "M*A*S*H," a comedy set in the 1950s Korean War, which used that conflict as an allegory for the Vietnam War, in which the United States was embroiled during the early years of the series.

    The show, based on a 1970 movie of the same name by director Robert Altman, was about wise-cracking doctors operating on the wounded just a few miles from the front lines, in what they called "meatball surgery," because it called for quick action.

    Producer and director Gene Reynolds called on Gelbart to write the pilot script for "M*A*S*H," and he went on to write for other episodes. He also served as executive script consultant and shared an Emmy award with Reynolds when the series won for outstanding comedy in 1974.


    Gelbart also co-wrote the book "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which became a Broadway musical in the 1960s, and the 1982 movie "Tootsie" starring Dustin Hoffman.

Gelbart knew how to write. He had a knack for being able to mix humor and pathos without it becoming maudlin. He knew how to mix intelligence and wit for the big laugh and the profound. His writing style will be missed.

Rest in Peace Mr. Gelbart.



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