Jim Thurman, Emmy-award winning children’s television writer, died in Sheffield, MA, April 14 after a short illness. He was 72.
One of the early team of writers for Children’s Television Workshop, creators of Sesame Street, Thurman wrote for “Sesame Street,” “The Electric Company,” for which he was part of the Emmy-award winning writing team and “321 Contact.” He also wrote sketches for Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show,” and performed voices such as “Sesame Street’s” Teeny Little Super Guy.
Thurman helped kids have fun with math as co-creator, with the late David D. Connell, of “Square One TV.” As senior producer and head writer, he helped create the Mathnet segments, a parody of “Dragnet” featuring calculator-toting detectives.
Joan Ganz Cooney, founder and former president of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) said, “Jim was a stalwart spirit within the Workshop. He was important not only for what he produced but for the positive spirit he had as he did it. He was an utter joy to work with, and was truly funny.”
Thurman began his career in advertising in Los Angeles where he and writing partner, the late Gene Moss, formed a boutique ad agency, Creative Advertising Stuff. His comedy writing ability soon led him to television comedy, where he wrote for Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart.
With Moss he also wrote and provided voices for “Shrimpenstein,” a satirical children’s television program that aired in Los Angeles during the late 1960s. The two also wrote all 156 episodes and provided voices for the syndicated cartoon, “Roger Ramjet.”
Born in Dallas, he grew up in Vicksburg, Miss. and graduated the U. of Michigan.
In recent years Jim continued to write, do voice work and wrote a weekly column for his local paper.
Jim is survived by his wife, Patricia; two sons; a daughter; four grandchildren; and a sister.