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October 4, 2015

Maude, Merv & M*A*S*H man entering Emmy Hall of Fame

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 18th 2008 3:20PM
Hall of FameEach year, the Emmys honor the best in current TV. They also recognize the all-time greats. This year Bea Arthur, Larry Gelbart, Merv Griffin, Daniel Burke, Tom Murphy and Sherwood Schwartz will be entering the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame. Grand choices, in my opinion, with only a minor quibble which I'll mention later.

According to ATAS chairman and CEO John Shaffner , "The Hall of Fame is a special recognition for those who have made significant contributions and have left an indelible mark on the television business." As Maude in the 1970's and Dorothy on The Golden Girls in the 1980's (into the '90s) Beatrice Arthur, made her mark. She was more effective on TV than she was in the theater, and she was a dynamo on stage.

But Maude was a larger than life role, and a controversial one at that. Then, on The Golden Girls with Rue McClanahan (reteaming from their years on Maude), Betty White and Estelle Getty, she was an older, wiser but still a smart and tart leader. In recent years, she's been spunky on Malcolm in the Middle, and a pain on Curb Your Enthusiasm. She's definitely earned her place in the Hall of Fame.

Writer Larry Gelbart has a great resume, including films like Tootsie and Oh, God, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and City of Angels on Broadway, but it was what he did transferring M*A*S*H from film to TV that's most important to the Academy. He has also contributed to numerous comedy variety shows, writing material for Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Fanny Brice and Barbra Streisand (yeah, both!), not to mention many other show biz luminaries. With Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon, he was one of the writers on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows.

Merv Griffin is so deserving of the Hall of Fame. The man was a leader in creating the talk show as we know it today, and he created Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and the current syndicated game Crosswords (I'm not sold on this one yet, but Jeopardy is genius!). He was also a singer, host, emcee and TV personality.

If truth be told, Sherwood Schwartz is being honored for being prolific, having endurance, and making the most of reruns. Nobody would ever consider awarding Gilligan's Island or The Brady Bunch prizes for excellence in TV (although Sherwood did win an Emmy in 1961 as a writer on The Red Skelton Show). Still, Sherwood Schwartz is a Hall of Famer for his creativity and pleasing the public. Those theme songs -- which he composed -- will live on forever...whether we like it or not. Oh, and remember It's About Time? I don't remember much, but that damn title song is still in my head! ("It's about time, it's about space...")

The other Hall of Fame winners were industry executives at ABC when Cap Cities ran the network, Daniel Burke and Tom Murphy.

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