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The creator of two classic, beloved TV shows passed away today. Sherwood Charles Schwartz, known for his contributions to the small screen, mainly during the ‘60s and ‘70s, was the man behind Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch.
Both series were before my time, but I grew up watching them nonetheless. The Brady Bunch, could be seen as the Modern Family of its time. Rather than another sitcom that followed a traditional family unit, The Brady Bunch joined two families and focused on the amusing and often challenging aspects of parenting six kids, and of growing up and finding ones place among half a dozen kids.
Gilligan’s Island followed a mismatched group of people on what they thought would be a three hour tour (a three hour tour). Their boat was caught in a storm and they ended up stranded on an island together. While the series was a sort of survival tale, laced with comedy, I don’t recall there being smoke-monsters or mysterious hatches, but there were coconuts and much later, in a TV movie, Harlem Globetrotters.
These two series are likely to be the most recognizable of Schwartz’ work, at least to those of us who came to appreciate his shows years after their original run. I did a quick check at TVGuide.com to see if either show had episodes airing in the near future and unfortunately, neither do. Hopefully that will change in the wake of Schwartz’ death and some network will begin airing them again. Nothing against the shows kids are watching today (I’ve heard great things about iCarly), but there’s still something to be said for exposing kids to the classics, right?
The Hollywood Reporter offered a few interesting facts about Schwartz and his work, including Schwartz’ plans to study biological sciences when he first moved to California, and that Carol Brady was originally supposed to be divorced but the network decided to make her a widow instead. Also among the tidbits mentioned in the Reporter’s article was that Schwartz and his son Lloyd were working on a big screen version of Gilligan’s Island for Warner Bros. The film may still see the light of day.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Schwartz died of natural causes and was at home, surrounded by his family when he passed. He was 94 years old.