Larry Gelbart, one of the writers who developed the hit TV series MASH and who scored nominations for Oscar, Tony and Emmy awards, died this morning of cancer at age 81, his wife tells the Los Angeles Times. Actor Jack Lemmon once described Gelbart “as one of the greatest writers of comedy to have graced the arts in this century.”
Gelbart began writing for radio at age 16, then moved on to television, Broadway and the silver screen. He was twice nominated for Oscars, for best screenplay for 1977’s Oh, God! and for screenwriting for 1982’s Tootsie. But MASH, which debuted on CBS in 1972, was his crowning achievement, one on which his influence was “seminal, basic and enormous,” a former colleague says.