Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If Sherwood had done nothing more than strand Gilligan and the Skipper on that island, it probably would have been enough, but Schwartz' comic mind never stopped. In 1966 he created the short-lived but peppy astronauts-meet-cavemen sitcom It's About Time, with its peppy theme song that has lingered in fan memory longer than the series itself. Sherwood wrote the theme songs to all his big hit series; they're all charming and unforgettable, so chalk up another talent for him.
In 1969 Sherwood Schwartz again hit the motherlode -- he created the blended family sitcom The Brady Bunch, leading to five years of hilarious childhood angst and giving babyboomers of a certain age a universal touchstone. (I was too old for TBB, never watched it -- except when Davy Jones did a guest gig -- but I get its appeal!). If Aaron Spelling supplied the "jiggle" for a generation, Sherwood Schwartz gave us the "giggle". With his gentle humor, appealing casts and an appreciation for slapstick that has kept his most popular series on top, Schwartz didn't aim too high but neither did he stoop low. Middle America loved him, and he earned it.
Creating two of the biggest success in sitcom history didn't mean Sherwood Schwartz took his shingle in; he continued to create series -- Dusty's Trail, Harper Valley PTA -- and remain vitally connected with Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch as they found pop culture immortality. Gilligan had two TV movies in the 1980s; the Brady family, especially, spawned lots of spin-off series (including variety shows) and of course his characters made it to the big screen twice during the 1990s as nostalgia for the series hit an all-time high.
Making millions of TV viewers happy for decades defines a life well-lived; Sherwood Schwartz had that life. In a wonderful gesture he also wrote a final letter that he asked be published in The Hollywood Reporter after his death. It's completely charming and shows what a nice guy he was. You can read it here. You might also enjoy watching his multi-part interview at the Archive of American Television.
The Flaming Nose joins Schwartz' family, friends and fans in remembering and honoring this wonderful icon on classic TV.