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Dee Caruso, a classic 1960’s sitcom writer died of pneumonia Sunday, May 27, at his home in Brentwood, California.
Caruso began writing in New York for stand-up, nightclub comedians like Marty Allen, Steve Rossi and Don Adams. Caruso and his writing partner, Gerald Gardner, later became the head writers on the 1960’s spy sitcom “Get Smart”, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, starring Don Adams.
Caruso with writing partner, Gardener, received a prime-time Emmy nomination for their writing on the ‘That Was the Week That Was’ series starring David Frost in 1965.
The pair did a lot of other work together on many other sitcoms and films. Together they wrote television shows for many comedians including Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Don Adams, Don Rickles, Debbie Reynolds, Robin William and Bill Cosby.
Caruso’s other work, according to The Hollywood Reporter, includes writing 22 episodes of the sitcom, “The Monkees”, also producing and writing on other shows including; “The Red Skeleton Hour”, “The Bill Cosby Show”,”What’s Happening”, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, “Happy Days”, and “Gilligan’s Island”.
A few of their episodes were chosen as top 50 sitcom episodes, one from “Gilligan’s Island” and two from “Get Smart”.
Some of the feature films Caruso also had part in writing include ‘The World’s Greatest Athlete’ for Disney, and ‘Which Way To The Front’ and ‘Doin’ Time’ for Warner Brothers. They also teamed up for a many made for TV movies.
After his time in the entertainment business writing and producing, according to UCLA Theater, Film and Television News, he taught with his wife, Sandra, for 10 years at UCLA extension a class called ‘What’s Funny, What’s Not.’ Following that he taught for another 20 years as a professor of screenwriting at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
Services were held Sunday, June 3, at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
According to the Daily Bruin, about 100 people came to show their respect to their former relative, friend, professor or colleague. Former student, Hubert Wiegand, spoke at the memorial about how Caruso inspired him to leave behind his business track and go into the entertainment industry.
“A quote that (Caruso) would share with us was ‘I never worked a day of my life’ because he did what he loved and it was never work for him,” Wiegand said.
Dee Caruso is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sandra Caruso.