TV sitcom, family show writer
Herbert Finn, TV sitcom and family show writer in the ’50s heyday of television, died May 28 in Burbank, Calif., of respiratory failure. He was 89.
He wrote for such TV staples as “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Flintstones” “Dennis the Menace” and “The Brady Bunch,” but “The Honeymooners” was the pinnacle of his career.
Finn and Andy Russell were one of the last two writers in 1955 to join Jackie Gleason’s posse of scribes –Marvin Marx, Walter Stone, Leonard Stern, Syd Zelinka — for the classic 39 shows of “The Honeymooners.”
On the show, Russell and Finn were paired frequently to pen such episodes as “The Golfer,” in which Ed Norton’s catchphrase “Hello, ball” was coined.
Although new to TV when he hooked up with Gleason, Finn already had a reputation as a veteran sitcom writer, first cutting his teeth on “Duffy’s Tavern,” a show that wound up being a perfect training ground for “The Honeymooners,” given the show’s jam-packed joke lines.
A Boston native with ambitions of being an actor, Finn began working in the theater, primarily in New York and his hometown, before landing his big break in showbiz as a radio writer on the “Amos ‘n’ Andy” shows.
Finn’s final work, “The Almoster,” a comedy set in Ireland, won the Mobil Playwriting Competition award in 1985.
He is survived by his daughter.