Emmy-Winning TV Comedy Writer Dead at 89

May 29, 2012  •  Post A Comment

A TV comedy writer who wrote for legends including Jack Benny and Carol Burnett has died, The New York Times reports. Al Gordon was 89.

Gordon was a gag writer who helped Benny transition from radio to television in the 1950s. He won two Emmys for his work on "The Jack Benny Program."

Gordon, described as "high-strung" and "fast-talking," worked for years with comedy writer Hal Goldman, who had a more "urbane, reserved style," the story notes.

The two writers joined "The Jack Benny Program" in 1950, a year after Benny had started the TV version of his radio show, which needed a faster pace to keep the attention of viewers, the story notes. They were hired to join two other writers already on staff, Sam Perrin and George Balzer.

"The Gordon-Goldman team became renowned in the business not only for writing quick-moving material, but also for writing fast — sometimes developing skits for guest stars overnight," the story says.

Until Benny died in 1974, he referred to the pair as "the new writers," the piece adds.

When the Benny show ended in 1965, Gordon went on to write for comedy shows including "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Flip Wilson Show," the story notes. He also wrote for sitcoms including "Three’s Company" and "That’s My Mama."

Later, Gordon had a hard time finding work, given that writers over 40 were called "grays" in Hollywood, the piece notes.

In a 1996 interview, Gordon said Benny held his comedy writers in high regard. "Hal and I had the best jobs in Hollywood,” he said. “We worked for a man who was truly a prince in this business. There’s no way we could do that work today.”

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