Comedy writer worked with 'Candid,' 'Kate Smith'

Comedy writer William (Bill) Jacobson, who worked as staff or head writer for performers including Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Red Buttons, Maurice Chevalier, Victor Borge and Arthur Godfrey as well as for “Candid Camera,” died July 19 in Encinitas, Calif. after a long illness. He was 91.

As head writer of “The Kate Smith Show,” he hired Woody Allen as a staff writer, and he provided valuable exposure for such entertainers as Johnny Mathis and Jackie Gleason as well as the musical theater team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

Jacobson was a contemporary of and worked alongside Neil and Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart and Yip Harburg. He was also associated with director-producer Max Liebman’s 1954 live TV adaptation of the operetta “Babes in Toyland.”

After early work as a journalist in New York, Jacobson began his comedy writing career providing material for nightclub comics during the 1940s. From there, he progressed to scripting “The Henry Morgan Show.”

When Universal brought Jacobson to Los Angeles as a creator, writer and producer, he developed, wrote and produced the NBC comedy series “90 Bristol Court” and also worked with those who developed “The Munsters.”

In the 1970s, Jacobson turned to acting, guesting on shows including “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Paper Chase,” “Quincy” and “Lou Grant.”

In his later years, Jacobson remained active as a writer, winning a Harper’s magazine competition with his article “Machine Ascendant: The Progress of Progress.”

Born in Utica, N.Y., Jacobson did not receive a formal college education, instead preferring to take courses in subjects and at institutions that interested him; he attended the U. of Buffalo, Oberlin, Harvard and Cornell.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, actress Bobbi Jordan; a daughter; a sister and a brother; a stepson; and two grandsons.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 1 p.m. at Self Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas.

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