You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Walter V. Kempley Jr.

Longtime comedy scribe and producer Walter V. Kempley Jr., who for several years was head writer for “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson and wrote for numerous sitcoms, died of Alzheimer’s disease Saturday in Sarasota, Fla. He was 74.

A writer for “The Jack Paar Show” and “The Jackie Gleason Show” as well, Kempley’s variety show experience helped back Carson from 1967 to 1971.

He also wrote for David Frost as well as for Howard Cosell’s short-lived “Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell,” and produced “The Merv Griffin Show.”

His sitcom writing included “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “McHale’s Navy” and “Happy Days,” where he had a five-year contract with Paramount to co-produce and exec story-edit and develop new series.

When his contract with the net was terminated after the 1982 strikes, Kempley turned to writing overseas as. His first novel, “The Probability Factor,” was turned into the 1976 French film “L’ordinateur des pompes funebres.” Later he wrote for German television and films, which translated his works from English.

He is survived by wife Betty, three daughters, a son and four grandchildren.

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content