TV vet Bill Idelson dies at 88

Writer/producer worked on 'Dragnet,' 'Happy Days'

TV actor, writer and producer Bill Idelson died Dec. 31 in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was 88.

Idelson, who taught writing workshop and mentored many writers, played Rose Marie’s boyfriend on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” for which he also wrote several episodes.

Idelson appeared in episodes of TV shows including “Dragnet,” “Perry Mason,” “The Twilight Zone,” “My Favorite Martian,” “The Odd Couple,” “Happy Days” and “Will & Grace.”

The first script Idelson sold was for “The Twilight Zone” (the one in which Billy Mumy spoke to his deceased grandmother on a toy telephone). He went on to write for shows including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Get Smart,” “The Odd Couple,” “Love American Style,” “MASH,” “Happy Days” and “The Bob Newhart Show.”

Two of his scripts won Writers Guild awards for episodic comedy: “Get Smart” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” for which he also shared an Emmy nom for comedy series in 1971.

His TV producing credits include “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Anna and the King,” “The McLean Stevenson Show” and “Love, American Style.”

Chicago native co-starred as a kid in the popular radio show “Vic and Sade,” where he was inspired to become a writer by the show’s creator, Paul Rhymer. The show ran from 1932 to 1944 and had 7 million listeners at its peak in the early 1940s.

A book version of his workshop, “Bill Idelson’s Writing Class,” was released this month by Bear Manor Media. Idelson also recently wrote a novelized version of his experiences as WWII pilot, “Gibby,” also to be published by Bear Manor.

A daughter, TV writer and actress Ellen Idelson, died in 2003.

He is survived by wife of 56 years, Seemah Wilder, three sons and three grandchildren.

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