Tuesday, November 27, 2007


In the Toobworld novel I've been working on forever, Toob Cooper tells his twin brother Thom - who's a fantasy aficionado - that the TV dimension is more Mel Tolkin than Tolkien.

Mel Tolkin was one of the leading writers for 'Your Show Of Shows' and was one of the creative forces behind 'All In The Family'.

Mr. Tolkin passed away on Monday at the age of 94.

Here's a selection from the MSN obituary:

He wrote comedy for Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye and Danny Thomas and in the 1970s was a writer and story editor for "All in the Family."

For Caesar, he contributed to the 1949 TV variety show "The Admiral Broadway Revue," and wrote for "Your Show of Shows" from 1950-54 — including its theme song — and for "Caesar's Hour," which ran from 1954-57.

Sketches from the shows, many pairing Caesar and Imogene Coca, became classics. Caesar and company captured new generations of fans with the 1973 theatrical compilation film "10 From Your Show of Shows" and more recent DVD releases.

"I guess he was most proud of his professionalism," his son said Tuesday. "Of course, he was very proud of his association with Caesar and his association with the birth of the Golden Age of television."

Tolkin "was a tremendous asset," Caesar, 85, told the Los Angeles Times. "He was a very talented man, and he worked really hard."

As head writer on "Your Show of Shows," Tolkin worked with the likes of Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Larry Gelbart, whose later credits include "M-A-S-H" and "Tootsie.'"

Caesar's team worked in a pressure cooker atmosphere, creating material for the live, 90-minute show and trying to satisfy the notoriously difficult star.

The experience inspired Simon's play "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," and was fictionalized in the 1982 movie "My Favorite Year."

There was "a creative anger in the room," Tolkin told the Times in 1995. "We had an acoustic ceiling. People would throw their pencils at it in frustration. One time I counted 39 pencils hanging from the ceiling."

Tolkin "absolutely had a brushstroke of genius," Brooks told the paper. "He was never Bob Hope contemporary. ... It was always the human condition, what happened in the human heart, and he taught me that."

Tolkin received several Emmy nominations and shared an Emmy with several colleagues in 1967 for "The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special."

Toby OB

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