Sherwood Schwartz, the comedy writer, producer, and creator of beloved series “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” passed away this morning at the age of 94.
Schwartz began his comedy career in 1939 writing jokes for Bob Hope’s radio program to make extra money while pursuing a master’s degree in biology (which he eventually abandoned). He went on to write for other radio shows, including “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” and won a 1961 Emmy as the head writer CBS television program “The Red Skelton Show.”
As an escape from writing for “Red Skelton,” Schwartz said, he created “Gilligan’s Island,” which premiered to terrible reviews but was beloved by viewers—as was the famous theme song, also written by Schwartz. The show aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967, but has lived on as one of the most widely syndicated TV shows.
In 1969, after being shopped around for three years, Schwartz’s “The Brady Bunch” premiered on ABC, becoming the first sitcom to feature a blended family. (He again wrote the theme song). The show, which ran until 1974, spawned countless spinoffs, including a variety show, animated series, and movies. Like “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Brady Bunch” was dismissed by critics when it first aired, but was embraced by the public and continues to air in reruns worldwide.
Throughout his career, Schwartz made a point of appealing to his viewers, regardless of negative reviews. “I honestly think I could sit down and write a show tonight that the critics would love, and I know it would be canceled within four weeks,” Schwartz said in a 1990 interview with The Times. “I know what the critics love. We write and produce for people, not for critics.”