Comedy writer Bob Schiller, whose credits ranged from “I Love Lucy” to “Maude,” died Tuesday at his Pacific Palisades home. He was 98.
Schiller was known for his long partnership with Bob Weiskopf. The pair worked on a range of top comedies from the 1950s through the 1980s, including “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” “The Lucy Show,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Good Guys,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Maude,” and “All in the Family.” The pair collected numerous awards for their work including Emmys, Golden Globes, Peabody Awards, the Humanitas Prize, and the lifetime achievement kudo from the Writers Guild of America.
The pair were the only staff writers added to “I Love Lucy” in its later seasons, joining series co-creators Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis. Schiller and Weiskopf wrote 53 installments from 1955-57, including the memorable episode where Lucille Ball’s Lucy Ricardo stomps grapes at a winery in Italy.
Born in San Francisco, Schiller graduated from UCLA in 1939 and got his first taste of comedy writing from his column in the Daily Bruin, “Bob’s Tales.” Drafted to the army in 1940, Schiller attended Officer Training School in Fort Bragg, N.C. before being deployed overseas to Europe. Schiller’s writing skills were again tasked during the war, where he wrote a column for the Stars and Stripes publication. He also produced comedy variety shows for the troops, providing levity during one of the darkest times in U.S. history. When reflecting on the war, he was always solemn about the loss of many friends, but equally aware how lucky he was noting that, “the worst weapon I had to use was a ‘pie to the face.”
Schiller’s writing career evolved into radio, writing for such well-known shows as “Abbott and Costello,” “Duffy’s Tavern,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” and “The Mel Blanc Show.” He met Weiskopf in 1953. The two first worked as partners on the TV series “Our Miss Brooks.”
Schiller was a lifelong civil rights supporter and people laugh through their work, but also pushed for conversation around social issues and controversial topics such as race, gender, sexual assault, and equal rights.
Schiller retired soon after the WGA ended its nearly six-month strike in 1988.
Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Sabrina, and four children.