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Friday, April 12, 2013

A Week That Has Turned Me Into An Obituary Writer.

It has been happening in droves.
First, my cousin Howie, then Annette Funicello, and now, two more today.
The first is Jonathan Winters, the many times acclaimed comedy genius.
One of those rare comedians---a man who did not need writers.
Ever.
He was astounding.
He was inspirational.
Many current comedians credit him for their interest in pursuing comedy in the first place.
He was, of course, the direct antecedent of Robin Williams, and played Williams' son on "Mork and Mindy"
The main difference was that Winters was always completely original, and never repeated himself.
Whereas it has been well documented that Robin has stolen others' material and repeated the stuff constantly.
My two favorite venues for him were "The Jack Paar Show", where Jonathan allowed Paar to hand him various objects, one at a time, and Winters would then proceed to do many comedic variations on each object.
Paar expressed genuine awe of this, and Winters made him, and me, constantly hysterical.
Paar was a great straight man for comedians in general, but particularly for Winters.
The other favorite venue for Winters was the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Winters stole that movie almost singlehandedly.
Along with, of all people, Ethel Merman.
They were the Bonnie and Clyde of that movie.

Jonathan was by all accounts a very unstable person.
He spent time in a mental institution.
His entire improvisational approach seemed quite unstable.
Perhaps he needed that to fuel the fire.
One of the producers on "The Odd Couple" was a writer on Jonathan Winters' variety show in the 60's.
He told us that most of the time, Jonathan was surly and moody.
But then, hanging around with this producer made a lot of us surly and moody.
So I really don't know how much credence to give to that statement.
All I know is that Jonathan Winters was a great and unique talent, and will be sorely missed.

The bells have also tolled for Mickey Rose.
At age 77.
Mickey Rose was one of the great comedy writers.
A particularly great joke writer.
Precisely the kind of writer that Jonathan Winters didn't need.
But precisely the kind of writer that "The Odd Couple" did need.
Because "The Odd Couple" was a haven for great joke writers.
It was a joke show. A show driven by jokes.
I had the extreme pleasure of working with Mickey Rose for a season on "The Odd Couple"
He was major fun to be around.
He had co-written Woody Allen's first two hit joke movies, "Take The Money and Run", and "Bananas"
He worked with us only a few years after that.
So we were always peppering him with questions about Woody Allen, which he was delighted to field.
He basically told us that there was more great stuff that Woody Allen threw away than most writers kept.
Mickey was a true eccentric.
Always smoking.
And he dressed in typical writers regalia: Sneakers, jeans, an open collared shirt.
He often punctuated this attire by putting on a full opera cape and a matching fedora.
And he didn't just confine himself to our offices this way.
He'd walk around the studio lot this way.
He'd accompany us to the commissary for lunch this way.
And he had this great laugh.
He found virtually everything funny, and would explode with this enormous high-pitched cackle.
His office was right next to ours, and you could hear him, sitting at his typewriter alone, cackling out loud at whatever jokes he wrote.
He was really not much of a storyteller, but he didn't have to be.
His joke writing ability much more than compensated for that.

It makes me very sad to think that his cackle is now stilled.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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3 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing about Mickey Rose. I'd wondered about him years ago after I saw his screenplay co-writer credits on those Woody Allen films.

    But I think he also did a very funny film on his own: "Student Bodies," a send-up of the "Friday the 13th" kind of film. I don't know whether it's available anywhere, but I'd be happy to see it again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always been curious about Mickey Rose too, because of "Take the Money and Run," "Bananas," and his work on "The Odd Couple." But except for the info in his obits, almost nothing has ever been written about him. If you have any more stories about him, or his work on the show, please tell them. The stories in the obits of his friendship with Woody Allen are very interesting, but his work on "The Odd Couple, confirmed he was a talented guy on his own too.

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  3. You could be eligible for a complimentary $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."