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September 14, 2009

A Little Less Comedy Tonight

One of the greatest things about working for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has been the myriad of fascinating people that you meet and come to admire.

One such person is Larry Gelbart, the award-winning writer whose sly wit helped create such hits as Broadway's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," the films "Tootsie" and "Oh, God!" and the hit television series "M-A-S-H". Mr. Gelbart died this past week at the age of 81.

During his long career as a comedy writer, Gelbart wrote for Bob Hope, Jack Paar, Red Buttons, Jack Carson, Eddie Cantor, Joan Davis and many others. In the 1950's he joined a legendary writing team that included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Carl Reiner writing for Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour."

Reiner, longtime friend and colleague, as quoted by AP writer Christy Lemire, called Gelbart "the Jonathan Swift of our day...It's a great, great, great, great, great, great loss. You can't put enough `greats' in front of it." Reiner directed "Oh, God!" from Gelbart's Oscar-nominated script. "The mores of our time were never more dissected and discussed. He had the ability to make an elaborate joke given nothing but one line."

Mr. Gelbart was a warm and generous human being. He will be greatly missed. There will be a little less comedy tonight.

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