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Jack Elinson dies at 89

Comedy writer-producer contributed to iconic shows

TV comedy writer Jack Elinson, who penned numerous episodes of series such as “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “Good Times,” “One Day at a Time” and “The Facts of Life” during a career of more than five decades, died Thursday, Nov. 17, of natural causes in Santa Monica. He was 89.

Elinson was executive producer or producer on many of the shows for which he wrote.

During the 1950s, he wrote for series including “All-Star Revue,” “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” “The Duke,” “The Jimmy Durante Show,” “Hey, Jeannie!,” “The Johnny Carson Show” and “The Real McCoys.” During the 1960s, Elinson earned credits on shows including “The Danny Thomas Show” (aka “Make Room for Daddy”) and was a writer-producer on “Gomer Pyle,” “Run, Buddy, Run” and “That Girl.”

In the ’70s, helped shape such hit shows as “Good Times” (where he was a writer-producer) and “One Day at Time” (where he penned episodes and was an exec producer), as well as “The Doris Day Show” and the animated sitcom “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.” During the ’80s, his writings included “The Facts of Life” (exec producer) and “227.” Elinson developed the latter Marla Gibbs comedy (which was created by C.J. Banks and Bill Boulware, based on the play by Christine Houston) and exec produced it for several seasons.

In 1961, Elinson received an Emmy nomination for comedy series (shared with Charles Stewart) for his work on “Make Room for Daddy.” He was nominated four times for Writers Guild Awards, the last time in 1989, for his work on “Jay Leno’s Family Comedy Hour” (shared with others) and shared a WGA award for co-writing an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Elinson was born in New York City and was stationed in Italy for several years while serving in the Army during WWII. After the war he followed his brother into show business, first writing jokes for Walter Winchell’s newspaper column and then working on radio shows.

In the early days of television, Elinson was hired as part of the writing team for “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” He was soon creating comedic sketches for “The Ed Wynn Show,” “The Jimmy Durante Show” and “The Garry Moore Show.”

Elinson was a Writers Guild of America member since 1948, serving on a number of WGAW committees.

He is survived by his second wife, Estelle; three sons and a daughter; three stepchildren; and 12 grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Opica Daycare and/or Skirball Hospice, both in Los Angeles County.

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