Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Larry Gelbart!

Yesterday February 25, 1928 was the birthday of Producer-Writer-Director extraordinaire Larry Gelbart. Nowadays he is best known as the co-creator of the classic TV series, MASH. When the movie MASH was a financial success, Twentieth Century Fox proposed a television series version to CBS. Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart came up with the simplified TV version, centering the action on "Hawkeye" Pierce, "Trapper John" McIntire, Col. Henry Blake, "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Frank Burns, and "Radar" O'Reilly. From a terrible idea (comedy set in war-torn Korea) came a cultural icon that lasted for 11 years.

Larry Gelbart was the chief creative force behind the show for its first four years. It was Larry, working with  Gene Reynolds, who came up with the idea of killing off Col. Henry Blake when McLean Stevenson the actor wanted out of his commitment. It was he and Gene who came up with four of the greatest TV characters of all-time: Corporal Klinger, the Section 8 candidate; Father Mulcahy, the spiritual leader of the camp; Col Sherman Potter, the Career Army in charge of the insane asylum; and BJ Hunnicutt, a family man surrounded by immorality.

Larry Gelbart died on September 11, 2009. If he was still living he would have been 85 years old.

Happy Birthday, Larry Gelbart! 

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