Monday, July 11, 2011

R.I.P. Sam Denoff, TV Comedy Writer Extraordinaire

Those of us who spent our childhood glued to our TV sets -- in other words, all of us here -- were saddened to hear of the death of veteran comedy writer Sam Denoff on July 8th. Especially close to my heart for his contributions to The Dick Van Dyke Show and for his co-creation of Marlo Thomas' That Girl, Mr. Denoff most often paired up with fellow writer Bill Persky to create some of the cleverest and most intelligent humor on TV at the time.  He won two Emmy Awards for his work on TDVDS, and was nominated for two others, and no doubt deserved a lot more than that. 

Sam Denoff was incredibly prolific.  In addition to aforementioned series, Mr. Denoff also wrote many individual episodes of various sitcoms, contributed to many variety specials -- Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke, Goldie Hawn -- plus he co-created Good Morning World, the short-lived but super-hip 1967 series about two disc jockeys starring Joby Baker and Ronnie Schell, and later helped produce the hilarious It's Garry Shandling's Show and consulted on Bonnie Hunt's Life with Bonnie.  He also taught comedy writing at the University level and was a dedicated supporter of the Television Academy Foundations's Archive of American Television, where you can watch an extensive nine-part interview with him, conducted in 2000.

You may not know that he also wrote the lyrics to the That Girl theme, featured in at least one version of the opening credits throughout the run of the program.  Here's an early title sequence, and then one with Mr. Denoff's charming lyrics!

Here's the opening credit sequence to Good Morning World --

Sam Denoff and his contributions to classic TV will live on as audiences continue to appreciate well-crafted comedy writing. 

Where to Watch:  Episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show are available on Hulu, there is some That Girl on YouTube and the seasons are available on DVD.

1 comment:

Jane said...

He's a super-hero for It's Garry Shandling alone. Great tribute to a great talent!