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TV Writer, Producer and Director Who Created ‘McMillan & Wife’ and Who Also Worked on ‘Get Smart,’ ‘Honeymooners’ and Many Other Shows–Who Also Created the Word Game Mad Libs–Dead at 87

Jun 9, 2011  •  Post A Comment

A television writer, producer and director whose credits include "Get Smart” and “The Honeymooners,” who also created the word game Mad Libs, has died at 87, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Leonard B. Stern, a multiple Emmy winner, created "McMillan & Wife," a crime drama starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James that aired on NBC from 1971-77.

Early in his career, Stern worked in film, writing two “Ma and Pa Kettle” movies and “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion.” Moving to television in the mid-1950s he wrote “The Honeymooners” before going on to “Get Smart” and many other sitcoms. His association with “Honeymooners” star Jackie Gleason continued with work on Gleason’s 1960s variety show.

Stern also worked on a series of less well-known TV shows, including "I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster" in the early 1960s, which he created, produced and directed. In the 1970s he executive produced "Holmes and Yo-Yo" and "Operation Petticoat."

It was while working on "The Honeymooners" in 1953 that Stern developed the idea for the party game Mad Libs with Roger Price, the article notes. In Mad Libs, one player asks another for a list of words to fill in blanks in a story, with the goal of creating a funny story.

"I was writing for ‘The Honeymooners’ and Roger was at the house," Stern said when asked how the game was developed. "I was doing a polish on a script and I said, ‘I need an adjective.’ And Roger said, ‘Naked!’ … Out of this came this word game where somebody asked you for an adjective or noun and parts of speech."

Stern, Price and partner Larry Sloan formed Price Stern Sloan and published the first Mad Libs book in 1958, the article notes.

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