She created a popular radio sitcom in the 1940’s that later became a TV show that ran on all three major networks: ABC, CBS and NBC.
“Peg Lynch, who wrote and starred in ‘Ethel and Albert, one of television’s earliest situation comedies, died on Friday at her home in Becket, Mass,” writes Bruce Weber in The New York Times. She was 98, and the cause of death was not revealed in the article.
The Times adds, “Ms. Lynch, who wrote nearly 11,000 scripts for radio and television without the benefit of a writer’s room committee (or even a co-writer), was a pioneering woman in broadcast entertainment. As a creator of original characters and a performer of her own written work — every bit of it live! — she might be said to have created the mold that decades later produced the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer.”
According to that programming bible of TV, Tim Brooks’ and Earl Marsh’s “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, “‘Ethel and Albert’ was one of many popular radio shows of the 1940s that had a second life on television in the 1950s. The format was extremely simple and down-to-earth, following the middle-aged Ethel and Albert Arbuckle through the minor triumphs and crises of everyday life. A gentle realism was the keynote of this series, with blown fuses, burnt-out lightbulbs and ruined dinners being about the worst things that happened.”
On TV “Ethel and Albert” debuted on NBC in 1953, moved to CBS in 1955, and finished up its run in 1956 on ABC, according to the Brooks and Marsh book. The sitcom had been a national radio series starting in 1944.
The Times obituary also notes that “Ethel and Albert” “was shrewd and observant in its writing; Jack Gould, The Times’s television critic, praised Ms. Lynch’s ‘uncanny knack for catching the small situation in married life and turning it into a gem of quiet humor.’”
To read more about this TV pioneer, please click here, which will take you to Weber’s obituary.
Here’s an excellent kinescope (a filmed version of a live TV show taken by filming the show off a video monitor) of a 1953 episode of “Ethel and Albert” that Lynch herself posted on YouTube just in May (with guest star Margaret Hamilton!):