LOS ANGELES, Calif. –“RIP Schwartz”–Legendary television producer Sherwood Schwartz — who changed the prime-time landscape with shows like “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island has died, according to gossip site TMZ. He was 94.
Schwartz who was considered one of the most influential television producers during the 1950s,`60s and`70s with shows like “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Harper Valley PTA and The Brady Bunch is said to have died of natural causes in his sleep.
The New Jersey born Schwartz began his career as a joke writer for Bob Hope’s radio show in 1938.
Schwartz recalled that Hope “liked my jokes, used them on his show and got big laughs. Then he asked me to join his writing staff. I was faced with a major decision — writing comedy or starving to death.”
Following his stint with Hope, Schwartz was hired on to write for The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as well as other radio shows of the time.
In 1956, Schwartz began writing for the long-running television variety series, The Red Skelton Show. In his 1988 book Inside Gilligan’s Island, Schwartz said he did not get along with Red Skelton during his early years as the head writer and had a contract drawn up stating he did not have to meet with Skelton.
Schwartz would go on to win an Emmy for his work as a writer on the Red Skelton Show.
The first series Schwartz created and produced went on the air in 1964. The show focused on the misadventures of seven people who were stranded together on an island after their pleasure cruise aboard the S.S. Minnow sank. Schwartz has called “Gilligan’s Island a social microcosm for bringing together such diverse characters and showing how they learn to live in their unusual situation.
While the concept may have been a bit high-brow, the comedy itself was usually of the slapstick variety. While many critics saw the show as fluff, audiences loved it. The show ran for three seasons.
Schwartz’s next series, “It’s about time,” featured two astronauts who accidentally end up returning to Earth during the Stone Age. The short short-lived series paved the way for Schwartz to create a future television classic about a large blended family learning to adjust to its new circumstances.
Debuted in 1969, the show originally titled, “Yours & Mine,” later renamed The Brady Bunch came at a time when divorce and remarriage in America was seeing a surge.
The Brady Bunch ended in 1974 but would enjoy several spin offs, sequels and movies thanks in part to a worldwide syndication that allowed future generations to become acquainted with Schwartz’s show.
Schwartz was immortalized in 2008, when he received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
According to TMZ, at the time of his death Schwartz was surrounded by his family.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Mildred Schwartz, and their four children, Donald Schwartz, Lloyd J. Schwartz, Ross Schwartz and Hope Juber.Tags: Brady Bunch Creator Sherwood Schwartz Dead at 94, death, RIP, Television