Emmy-winning TV writer Burt Styler, who also penned jokes for Bob Hope during a long association with the comedian, died Monday, June 13, of heart failure in Tarzana, Calif., after heart surgery. He was 86.
Styler won an Emmy in 1972 for writing an episode of “All in the Family,” competing in the category against another episode of the series that he co-wrote with Norman Lear.
He was later twice nominated for writing episodes of “The Carol Burnett Show” along with wife, Adele, and others.
Born in New York, Styler worked at the New York Public Library in his teens. He served in the Army during WWII, participating in the Normandy invasion after D-Day. He also wrote for a newspaper in the military and first met Hope, who was on tour entertaining the troops, after talking his way into a gig with the Armed Forces Network. After the war, he phoned Hope at his hotel in New York seeking work; Hope didn’t remember him but told him to write up a monologue as a test. Styler slipped a note with some jokes under Hope’s door, and the comedian hired him.
Styler wrote jokes and comedy sketches for Hope’s radio programs, penned two episodes of “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre” in the mid-1960s and co-wrote the Hope bigscreen vehicles “Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!” and “Eight on the Lam.”
Under contract at Fox, he earned his first bigscreen credits on the 1951 Betty Grable vehicle “Call Me Mister” and on 1953 musical comedy “Down Among the Sheltering Palms.”
He was comfortably ensconced in TV by the late ’50s, writing episodes of “The Life of Riley” and a comedic murder segment of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” In 1966, Styler parted ways with longtime collaborator Albert E. Lewin and began writing solo. During the decade he contributed episodes of “Margie,” “McHale’s Navy,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “My Favorite Martian” (12 episodes), “Mayberry R.F.D.,” “The Flying Nun” and “Family Affair.”
In 1972 he penned two episodes in the first season of “MASH.”
Adele was his writing partner on sitcoms including “The Brady Bunch,” “Chico and the Man” and “Too Close for Comfort.”
Styler’s last credit was on “The Munsters Today” in 1989.
Adele died in 2002. Survivors include Styler’s son Jeff.