Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An anonymous genius

Larry Gelbart, 81, died over the weekend. Ever heard of him? Probably not. But if actor Alan Alda had passed, it would have been -- and should have been -- major news.

For those of us old enough to remember, Alda, as Hawkeye Pierce, was the symbolic figure of "MASH", the iconic TV show of the 1970s and one of television's all-time great shows.

But who was Larry Gelbart? He was MASH. He developed the TV series, and wrote most of the episodes. He co-wrote the comedy classic movie "Tootsie." No less than Woody Allen called him, "the best comedy writer I ever knew."

Writing can be a lonely, often anonymous profession. For sure, writers aren't celebrities. We're writers, even us newspaper guys. We'll leave the being recognized in the grocery store to the TV folks.

Writing is a vital, though thankless job. If not for quality writing, the next big movie you anticipate would have big-name actors looking at each other, going, "What?"

Gelbart was one of the best.

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