Bob Brunner, ‘Happy Days’ writer, dies

Scribe collaborated with Garry Marshall for TV and film

Bob Brunner, a writer-producer who worked in both film and TV, often for Garry Marshall, died Oct. 28 from a heart attack near his home in Northridge, Calif. He was 78.

Brunner began his career in entertainment as a publicist in the early ’60s working with Tony Bennett and Louis Armstrong, among others.

He broke into television as a writer and producer on Marshall’s “Happy Days” and gave the Fonzie character both his name and his signature phrase “Sit on it.” Perhaps more notoriously, he devised the storyline that gave birth to the phrase “Jump the shark,” referring to the moment in a series’ life signalling that it is definitely past its prime.

Brunner went on to co-create and exec produce the 1979 series “Brothers & Sisters” and “Working Stiffs.” He also co-developed “The Bad News Bears” for television and exec produced “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Webster,” “Private Benjamin” and the Emmy-nominated “Love, Sydney.”

Brunner worked on many projects with Marshall including TV series “Laverne and Shirley” and “The Odd Couple” and the films “Frankie and Johnny,” “Exit to Eden” and “The Princess Diaries.” He also co-penned the screenplay for Marshall’s critically acclaimed “The Other Sister.”

Robert Brunner was born in New York City. He first met Marshall when both were working copyboys at the New York Daily News in 1959.

Survivors include a son, two daughters and six grandchildren.

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