M*A*S*H writer Larry Gelbart passes away

MUMBAI: Larry Gelbart, the award-winning comedy writer best known for developing the landmark television series M*A*S*H, co-writing the book for the Broadway musical smash A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and co-writing the Oscar-winning motion picture comedy Tootsie, died on 11 September, 2009, at his Beverly Hills home.

Gelbart, who had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer in June, was 81.

Renowned for the range, quality, intelligence and sheer volume of his work, Gelbart began writing professionally while still in his teens and was still at it as recently as three weeks ago.

Gelbart was born on 25 February, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Eastern European immigrants – his father, a barber, was from Latvia, and his mother, a seamstress, was from Poland – and spoke Yiddish until the age of 4.

Gelbart married his wife, Pat, a Broadway actress and singer known professionally as Patricia Marshall and the mother of three children from a former marriage, in 1956. They had two children. In addition to his wife and two children, Gelbart is survived by two stepchildren; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Among his many professional accolades, Gelbart earned 16 Primetime Emmy nominations and won one, in 1974, when M*A*S*H was named Outstanding Comedy Series.