TV writer-producer Chet Dowling, who wrote comedy for shows including “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” “Donny and Marie” and “Three’s Company,” died Sept. 6 in Studio City, Calif. He was 82 and had recently been hospitalized due to complications from diabetes and a heart condition.
The Woonsocket, R.I., native Dowling began his show business career playing one of the clowns on WJAR-TV 10’s “Tip Top Circus” with Ted Knight (who later played Ted Baxter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) and Walter Covell. When Knight left “Uncle Ted’s Backyard” to emcee another local kids show, Dowling took over the series, which was retitled “Uncle Charlie’s Backyard.”
In the early 1960s Dowling moved to New York City. There he wrote and produced many of WPIX TV 11 kids shows including “Let’s Have Fun” (the Chuck McCann/Paul Ashley version), “The Popeye Show With Captain Jack McCarthy,” “The Three Stooges Firehouse With Fireman Todd Russell,” “The Dick Tracy Show With Police Chief Joe Bolton” and “The Chuck McCann Show.” He also wrote and produced “The Eddie Lawrence Show” and, for a time, “The Clay Cole Show.” He went on to write for Alan Funt’s “Candid Camera” and later became head writer for “The Joan Rivers Show.”
After moving to Los Angeles, he wrote 52 episodes of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”from 1969-71. He also worked on “The American Music Awards” and TV specials for Cass Elliot, Tony Randall and Paul Lynde.
Teaming with Sandy Krinski, he became head writer for the “Donny and Marie” show. He wrote and produced the first David Copperfield special and was a staff writer on sitcoms “Alice,” “Three’s Company” and “Gimme a Break.”
He also continued to write and produce children’s shows such as “The Lost Saucer” (with Jim Nabors, Alice Playten and Ruth Buzzi), “Whitney and the Robot” and “The New Soupy Sales Show.”
Dowling is survived by a sister and two nephews.
Donations may be made to Actors and Others for Animals, 11523 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.