Vale: Larry Gelbart

Writer Larry Gelbart, one of the main creative forces behind MASH, has died aged 81.

lgWriter Larry Gelbart, one of the main forces behind the success of M*A*S*H, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Gelbart was brought onto the the show which was based on the 1970 Robert Altman film. After writing 97 half-hour episodes and winning an Emmy, he quit during the show’s fourth season, saying he was “totally worn out.”

“What attracted me to MASH was the theme song, `Suicide is Painless,'” Gelbart once remarked. “It was written in a very minor key and appealed to me emotionally.”

He also won a Tony for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and wrote the films Tootsie and Oh, God!

Gelbart began as a writer at the age of sixteen for Danny Thomas’ radio show during the 1940s and also wrote for Jack Paar and Bob Hope. In the 1950s, he worked in television for Sid Caesar on Caesar’s Hour, along with writers Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Carl Reiner.

Reiner, said, “It’s a great, great, great, great, great, great loss. You can’t put enough `greats’ in front of it.

“The mores of our time were never more dissected and discussed. He had the ability to make an elaborate joke given nothing but one line.”

His wife said of his passing, “It wasn’t a surprise. He had cancer, we’ve known that. We didn’t know what the outcome would be, the result, whatever. And so here we are and we were sort of prepared for this,” she said. “It’s enough to be able to be resourceful and go forward.”

Source: Associated Press

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