Charlie Hauck, Emmy-nominated writer-producer of “Maude” and “Frasier,” died of complications from pancreatic cancer on Saturday at the age of 79. Warner Bros. TV confirmed his death at his home in Los Angeles to Variety.
The longtime writer worked on the CBS series “Maude” for three seasons, both as a producer and writer of nearly 20 episodes. In 1979, Hauck co-created the ABC series “The Associates,” which earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing in a comedy series.
Hauck reunited with “Maude” producer Elliot Shoenman in the ’90s, as an executive producer and writer on ABC comedy series “Home Improvement,” starring Tim Allen. In 2000, he moved on to join the staff of NBC’s “Frasier,” for which he received his second Emmy nomination as one of the producers of an outstanding comedy series.
“I think it is fair to look at something and say, ‘I could do that,'” Hauck said of writing for the screen in a 1993 interview with The Washington Post. “The tricky thing about television is it is sort of like marksmanship: You say, ‘I could do that,’ but not everybody can. As self-referential and formulaic and sappy as a lot of TV seems, even on the lower levels it is kind of difficult to do. On the higher levels — a good show on a good night — television can be quite exquisite and very difficult.”
Hauck was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from John Carroll University, the city’s Jesuit university. In 1963, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he served as a reporter and Pittsburgh bureau chief of Businessweek magazine.
The writer broke into the entertainment industry as a TV reporter and anchor at Pittsburgh’s WQED, where he also worked on “Drink, Drank, Drunk,” a PBS special on alcoholism. Even when he moved to Los Angeles in 1974, Hauck kept in touch with comedian Michael Keaton, who he had met during his time at WQED.
“Charlie was one of the first people who opened the door for me,” said Keaton. “I was about a month away from moving to New York, and Charlie said, ‘I think you ought to think about Los Angeles.’ And I’ll never forget the expression he used. He said, ‘It’s wide open out here.’ I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll come out,’ and I never thought I’d stay, and I just never left.”
Hauck found initial success in Hollywood, booking opportunities to write for “The Flip Wilson Special.” A script he wrote for “The Bob Newhart Show” soon landed him the writer position on “Maude.”
Hauck also wrote the pilot episode of “The Two of Us,” CBS’ long-running series that was subsequently titled “Valerie’s Family” and, later, “The Hogan Family.”
For several years, Hauck also emceed the Humanitas Prize, an event founded by Fr. Ellwood “Bud” Kieser to celebrate writers for making a positive impact through their work. He also served as a trustee of the Writers Guild Foundation.
Hauck is survived by his partner Logan Dalla Betta, daughter Flannery, sons Maurice, Seth and Perry, sister Maryanne Straub and grandchildren Natasha and Oliver.
Donations may be made to Humanitas Prize.