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October 8, 2015

Larry Gelbart dead at 81

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 12th 2009 8:42AM
Larry GelbartYesterday brought sad news for anyone who's a comedy writer, aspired to be a comedy writer, or just appreciated a well-turned and funny phrase. Larry Gelbart passed away; he had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. He died at his Los Angeles home yesterday morning at the age of 81.

Gelbart is probably best known for his writing on M*A*S*H during its early years. The almost lyrical comedic dialogue he gave Hawkeye, Trapper, and the rest of the gang is what drew me to the show, and he influenced almost everyone who worked on the show afterwards, including FOS (Friend of Squad) Ken Levine, who was just "too devestated" to write a tribute on his blog (expect one on Monday, though).

Of course, Gelbart worked on more than just M*A*S*H. He worked on Caesar's Hour in the fifties with Carl Reiner, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, wrote the book for the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and either wrote or co-wrote Oh, God!, Tootsie, and a number of other films. Finally, he was a mentor and guru to many of the best comedy writers of the last thirty years. He'll be missed.

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