- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sherwood Schwartz, writer-creator of two of the best-remembered TV series of the 1960s and 1970s, “Gilligan's Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” has died at age 94.

Great-niece Robin Randall said Mr. Schwartz died at 4 a.m. Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was being treated for an intestinal infection and underwent several surgeries. His wife, Mildred, and children had been at his side.

Mr. Schwartz and his brother, Al, started as a writing team in TV’s famed 1950s “golden age,” said Douglas Schwartz, the late Al Schwartz’s son.

“They helped shape television in its early days,” Douglas Schwartz said. “He continued to produce all the way up into his 90s.”

Sherwood Schwartz was working on a big-screen version of “Gilligan's Island,” his nephew said. Douglas Schwartz, who created the hit series “Baywatch,” called his uncle a longtime mentor and caring “second father” who helped guide him successfully through show business.

Success was the hallmark of Sherwood Schwartz’s own career. Neither “Gilligan” nor “Brady” pleased the critics, but both managed to reverberate in viewers’ heads through the years as few such series did, lingering in the language and inspiring parodies, spinoffs and countless stand-up comedy jokes.

Mr. Schwartz had given up a career in medical science to write jokes for Bob Hope’s radio show. He went on to write for other radio and TV shows, including “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”

He dreamed up “Gilligan's Island” in 1964. TV critics hooted at the show as gag-ridden corn, but audiences adored its far-out comedy.

Mr. Schwartz insisted the show had social meaning along with the laughs: “I knew that by assembling seven different people and forcing them to live together, the show would have great philosophical implications.”

TV writers usually looked upon “The Brady Bunch” as a sugarcoated view of American family life, but during the 1970s when the nation was rocked by social turmoil, audiences seemed comforted by watching an attractive, well-scrubbed family engaged in trivial pursuits.

Mr. Schwartz claimed in 1995 that his creation had social significance because “it dealt with real emotional problems: the difficulty of being the middle girl; a boy being too short when he wants to be taller; going to the prom with zits on your face.”

Mr. Schwartz was born in 1916 in Passaic, N.J., and grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. His brother, already working for Hope, got him a job when Mr. Schwartz was still in college.

“Bob liked my jokes, used them on his show and got big laughs. Then he asked me to join his writing staff,” Mr. Schwartz said during an appearance in March 2008, when he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “I was faced with a major decision - writing comedy or starving to death while I cured those diseases. I made a quick career change.”