“He had a lot of favorite projects and a lot of favorite shows, and his favorite one was always the next one,” his son and producing partner, Lloyd J. Schwartz, told TheWrap. “He didn’t really die. He just ran out of time to do things.”
He died early Tuesday, surrounded by his family. The father and son were working together on the upcoming Warner Bros. film adaptation of “Gilligan’s Island” at the time of Schwartz’s death, Lloyd J. Schwartz said.
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Besides creating shows that became staples across generations as they lived on in syndication, Schwartz wrote for legends including Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Milton Berle.
Born in Passaic, N.J., in 1916, Schwartz studied premed at New York University before writing for “The Bob Hope Radio Show” in 1939 with his brother, Al. After four years, he wrote for the Armed Forces Radio Service, then for the radio version of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
Once he turned to television, he worked on more than 700 shows, by his own count. They included “I Married Joan,” “The Red Skelton Show” and “My Favorite Martian.”
In 1963, he created “Gilligan’s Island,” which would become a TV staple and provide a classic setup for shows as diverse as “Lost” and “Survivor”: A group of diverse people are trapped on an island, trying to live as comfortably as possible and perhaps one day go home.
“Whether it’s North Korean and South Korean, or whether it’s Arabs and Jews … or blacks and whites, you know, everybody’s a human being,” he once told an interviewer. “And that’s at the basis of most of my thinking. All my shows, actually, are how do people learn to get along with one another?”
The simple “Gilligan” scenario endures in reruns, and its theme song, which he co-wrote with George Wyle, is one of the catchiest in TV history, perhaps matched only by the “Brady Bunch” theme that he co-wrote with Frank DeVol.
The success of “Gilligan’s Island” led to three two-hour TV movies, including one, “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island,” which Schwartz said was the first “reunion show.”
In 1969, he created “The Brady Bunch,” a Gen X classic that led to more reunion shows and two feature films in the 1990s, “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “A Very Brady Sequel.”
Schwartz received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008, the same year he joined the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Schwartz was married to his wife, Mildred, for nearly seven decades, which he called his greatest accomplishment. He is survived by four children, including Lloyd, and another son, Ross Schwartz, who wrote the independent film “Bottle Shock.”