Saturday, April 23, 2011

Madelyn Pugh Davis and Sol Saks

Two writers who left their mark on classic TV comedy died within the past seven days.

If you've ever watched "I Love Lucy," you've almost certainly seen Madelyn Pugh Davis' name at the end. She also wrote for "Alice" and "The Mothers-In-Law."

Sol Saks created "Bewitched" and wrote that show's pilot episode. He also wrote for "Duffy's Tavern" and Ozzie and Harriet on radio and for Joan Davis on TV, and wrote the screenplay for "Walk, Don't Run," Cary Grant's last movie.

Some years ago Saks wrote a very good book, "Funny Business: The Craft of Comedy Writing." I haven't read it in years, but I hope to reread it soon.

Saks also is the author of one of my favorite quotes, which goes something like: "Never try to ad lib with professional comedians. They can remember faster than you can think."

Saks is among a number of veteran comedy writers interviewed in an excellent book, "The Laugh Crafters," by Jordan R. Young. Sadly, most of them are gone now; I think Hal Kanter might be the only one of them who is still around.

By coincidence, I "met" Mr. Young on Facebook this week after I discovered that he and I had a "friend" in common. He graciously accepted my compliments on his book.

If you're interested in show biz history, and particularly the history of TV and radio comedy, "The Laugh Crafters" is indispensable.

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