Larry Simon Gelbart

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Larry Simon Gelbart

Birthplace: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
Death: September 11, 2009 (81)
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Harry Gelbart and Freida Gelbart
Husband of Patrisha Gelbart
Brother of Jean Mollie Pasco; Florence Gelbart and Private

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Larry Simon Gelbart

Larry Simon Gelbart (February 25, 1928 – September 11, 2009) was an American television writer, playwright, screenwriter and author.

Early life

Gelbart was born in Chicago to Jewish immigrants Harry Gelbart ("a barber since his half of a childhood in Latvia")and Frieda Sturner, who migrated to America from Dombrowa,[disambiguation needed ] Poland. Marcia Gelbart Walkenstein was his sister.


Gelbart began as a writer at the age of sixteen for Danny Thomas' radio show after his father, who was Thomas' barber, showed Thomas some jokes Gelbart had written. During the 1940s Gelbart also wrote for Jack Paar and Bob Hope. In the 1950s, his most important work in television involved writing for Red Buttons, Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour, in Celeste Holm's Honestly, Celeste!, as well as with writers Mel Tolkin, Michael Stewart, Selma Diamond, Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and (on two Caesar specials) Woody Allen.[3] In 1972, Gelbart was one of the main forces behind the creation of the television series M*A*S*H, writing the pilot (for which he received a "Developed for Television by..." credit) and then producing, often writing and occasionally directing the series for its first four seasons (1972–1976). M*A*S*H earned Gelbart a Peabody Award and an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and went on to considerable commercial and critical success.


Gelbart's best known screen work is perhaps the screenplay for 1982's Tootsie, which he co-wrote with Murray Schisgal. He was nominated for an Academy Award for that script, and also was Oscar-nominated for his original screenplay for 1977's Oh, God! starring George Burns.

He collaborated with Burt Shevelove on the screenplay for the 1966 British film The Wrong Box. Gelbart also co-wrote the golden-era film spoof Movie Movie (1978) starring George C. Scott in dual roles, the racy comedy Blame It on Rio (1984) starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, and the 2000 remake of Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser.

His script for Rough Cut (1980), a caper film starring Burt Reynolds and David Niven, was credited under the pseudonym Francis Burns.

Gelbart-scripted films for television included Barbarians at the Gate (1993), a true story about the battle for control of the RJR Nabisco corporation starring James Garner that was based on the best-selling book of that name; Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997) starring Ben Kingsley and Gabriel Byrne as rival media moguls and And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) starring Antonio Banderas as the Mexican revolutionary leader.


Gelbart co-wrote the long-running Broadway musical farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Burt Shevelove and Stephen Sondheim in 1962. Receiving lousy reviews and box office during its previews in Washington, D.C., rewrites and restaging helped; it was a smash Broadway hit and ran for 964 performances. Its book won a Tony Award. A film version starring Zero Mostel was released in 1966 with Gelbart and Shevelove's libretto largely rewritten. Gelbart was extremely critical of the movie.

Gelbart's other Broadway credits include the musical City of Angels, which won him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical and an Edgar Award. He also wrote the Iran-contra satire Mastergate, as well as Sly Fox and a musical adaptation of the Preston Sturges movie Hail the Conquering Hero; during that show's troubled development Gelbart uttered the now-classic line, "If Hitler is alive, I hope he's out of town with a musical."


In 1997, Gelbart published his memoir, Laughing Matters: On Writing M*A*S*H (TV series), Tootsie, Oh, God! and a Few Other Funny Things.


Gelbart was a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, and also was a regular participant on the Usenet newsgroup as "Elsig".


Gelbart was diagnosed with cancer in June and died at his Beverly Hills home on September 11, 2009. His wife of 53 years, Pat Gelbart, said that after being married for so long, "we finished each other's sentences." She declined to specify the type of cancer he had.

Writing Credits

Duffy's Tavern (1941–1951) (Radio) The Red Buttons Show (1952) (TV) Honestly, Celeste! (1954) (TV) Caesar's Hour (1954–1957) (TV) The Patrice Munsel Show (1957) (TV) The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1958) (TV) The Art Carney Show (1959) (TV) Startime (1959) (TV) The Best of Anything (1960) (TV) Hooray for Love (1960) (TV) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with Burt Shevelove) (1962) (Theater) The Notorious Landlady (with Blake Edwards) (1962) Judy and her guests, Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet (1963) (TV) The Thrill of It All (1963) (story only) The Danny Kaye Show (1963) (TV) The Wrong Box (with Burt Shevelove) (1966) Not with My Wife, You Don't! (with Norman Panama and Peter Barnes) (1966) A Fine Pair (1967) (uncredited) Eddie (1971) (TV) The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine (1971) (TV) Roll Out (1972) (TV) M*A*S*H (1972–1983) (TV) (also Co-Creator, with Gene Reynolds) If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever? (1974) (TV) Karen (1975) (TV) Sly Fox (1976) (Theater) Three's Company (1976) (TV) (unaired pilot) Oh God! (1977) Movie, Movie (1978) United States (1980) (TV) Rough Cut (1980) (as Francis Burns) Neighbors (1981) Tootsie (with Murray Schisgal) (1982) AfterMASH (1983–1984) (TV) (also Creator) Blame it on Rio (1984) City of Angels (1989) (Theater) Master Gate (1990) (Theater) Barbarians at the Gate (1993) (TV) Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997) (TV) Laughing Matters: On writing M*A*S*H, Tootsie, Oh, God! And A Few Other Funny Things (1999) (Autobiography) C-Scam (2000) (TV) Bedazzled (with Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan) (2000) And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) (TV) [edit]M*A*S*H Episodes

The following is a list of M*A*S*H episodes (42 Total) written and/or directed by Gelbart.

Season One (9/17/72-3/25/73)

Episode 1: The Pilot (Written) Episode 4: "Chief Surgeon Who?" (Written) Episode 11: "Germ Warfare" (Written) Episode 12: "Dear Dad" (Written) Episode 18: "Dear Dad...Again" (Written with Sheldon Keller) Episode 21: "Sticky Wicket" (Teleplay with Laurence Marks) Episode 23: "Ceasefire" (Teleplay with Laurence Marks) Episode 24: "Showtime" (Teleplay with Robert Klane; Story)

Season Two (9/15/73-3/2/74)

Episode 1: "Divided We Stand" (Written) Episode 2: "Five O'Clock Charlie" (Written with Laurence Marks & Keith Walker) Episode 6: "Kim" (Written with Marc Mandel & Laurence Marks) Episode 7: "L.I.P. (Local Indigenous Personnel)" (Written with Carl Kleinschmitt & Laurence Marks) Episode 9: "Dear Dad...Three" (Written with Laurence Marks) Episode 11: "Carry On, Hawkeye" (Written with Bernard Dilbert & Laurence Marks) Episode 12: "The In

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Larry Simon Gelbart's Timeline

February 25, 1928
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
September 11, 2009
Age 81
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States