TV Writer Samuel Denoff Passes Away, Services Held at Eden Memorial Park

Legendary television writer/producer and composer Samuel Denoff died July 8, 2011 at his home in Brentwood, California. He was 83 and suffered from Alzheimers' Disease. Services will be held Monday July 11 at 11AM at the Groman mortuary at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, California.

Samuel Denoff was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 1, 1928 to Harry and Esther Denoff. In Brooklyn he went to P.S. 197 and James Madison High School, then Horace Greeley High in Chappaqua, New York and finally graduated from Great Neck High School on Long Island. All this time he studied piano and grew up with a burning desire to be a songwriter. This passion continued while attending Adelphi College in Garden City, Long Island, which he left before graduation because he wanted to hang out in the Brill Building and be discovered by Perry Como or Frank Sinatra who would record one of his songs and make him a rich and famous songwriter. That didn't happen. In 1951, in order to eat, he took a job as a page at NBC. With another page, Jim Haines, he rented an apartment on Charles Street in Greenwich Village where they wrote a lot more songs which no one recorded.

In 1954 he got a job in the continuity department at radio station WNEW where he met Bill Persky. They wrote jingles,jokes, and comedy routines for the legendary DJ William B. Williams. A partnership between Persky and Denoff was started that lasted over 20 years.

In 1957 they co-authored the memorable classic recording of Phil Foster singing "LET'S KEEP THE DODGERS IN BROOKLYN" (the only work on which Denoff's name preceded Persky's in billing.) Given recent events with the Dodgers' finances, perhaps the team REALLY should have stayed put.

Persky and Denoff stayed at WNEW for seven years and in 1961 moved to California for the their first network Television job as the junior writers on THE Steve Allen SHOW on ABC. They also wrote a special for the MARINELAND amusement park featuring Lloyd Bridges. Their next stop was the Andy Williams SHOW on NBC in the 1962/63 season. They then decided to write situation comedy and wrote for such shows as MCHALE'S NAVY and the Joey Bishop SHOW.

In 1963 they sold their first script to THE Dick Van Dyke SHOW. They went on to write a majority of the scripts for the last three years of that classic show where they served as writers, story editors and eventually producers. They received two Emmys for writing on THE Dick Van Dyke SHOW, including one for the classic episode "Coast-to-coast Big Mouth" where Laura Petrie lets slip that Alan Brady wears a toupee. Denoff always recalled his experience of having Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard as mentors was the greatest of his writing career.

Denoff and Persky then created and were executive producers of THAT GIRL, starring Marlo Thomas which ran from 1966 to 1970, and also wrote the lyrics for the shows opening credits. In 1966 they also created and produced GOOD MORNING WORLD, one of whose stars was the then unknown Goldie Hawn. In 1967 they co-wrote the Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris SPECIAL which earned them another EMMY. In 1968 they wrote and produced the first Bill Cosby SPECIAL which won still another EMMY. Other acclaimed specials which they wrote and produced were: THE Julie Andrews SPECIAL WITH Gene Kelly, THE FIRST NINE MONTHS ARE THE HARDEST, Dick Van Dyke AND THE OTHER WOMAN with Mary Tyler Moore and PURE GOLDIE with Goldie Hawn.

Other series they created and produced in the 70's were THE FUNNY SIDE, a variety show starring Gene Kelly and featuring 5 couples taking a cross section of American life view of weekly topics like sex, sports and money. The ensemble cast included Cindy Williams in her first major role before Laverne & Shirley, BIG EDDIE, starring his mentor Sheldon Leonard, THE MONTEFUSCOS, and LOTSA LUCK, starring Dom DeLuise.

In the mid seventies the team broke up and Sam went on to produce THE PRACTICE, starring Danny Thomas; create and produce THE Don Rickles SHOW; produce ON OUR OWN; produce TURNABOUT, starring Sharon Gless; create and produced THE Lucie Arnaz SHOW; executive supervising producer of IT'S Garry Shandling'S SHOW; and act as a consulting producer on HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS. Since 1995 he was been a writer for the AMERICAN COMEDY AWARDS and since 1973 Sam served as a creative consultant on Jerry Lewis annual MDA Labor Day Telethon.

In 1977 Denoff collaborated on doctoring the book for the already-troubled Broadway musical HELLZAPOPPIN, which starred Jerry Lewis. The shows' problems were numerous well before Denoff was engaged to attempt to help and it closed out of town. Denoff always hoped to write a musical for Broadway and his concept, "Show Business" may still come to fruition with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman and his son Douglas as producer.

In 2004 he served as a Consultant on LIFE WITH BONNIE starring Bonnie Hunt.

He also acted and, as one of his friend, writer/director Garry Marshall's ‘good luck charms' can be seen fleetingly in such features as NOTHING IN COMMON, BEACHES, EXIT TO EDEN, THE OTHER SISTER and PRINCESS DIARIES.

Sam also paid a lot of dues. He was a member of: WGA, DGA, SAG, AFTRA, NATAS, ASCAP, NARAS, SONGWRITER'S GUILD and the CAUCUS FOR PRODUCERS, WRITERS AND DIRECTORS. And, of course, the Automobile Club.

His first marrige to Bernice Levey, ended in divorce but yielded his first two children, Douglas, a Tony-nominated Broadway producer and entrepreneur living in Manhattan, and Leslie, an equestrienne and lawyer living in England. His second marriage was to Sharon Shore Denoff, a painter and dancer on Broadway, television and in the ballet, who survives him along with their two children Melissa, and Matthew who live in southern California.

He was a lover of great wine, tuna fish sandwiches, and all things French. He always felt that the name Denoff was actually Deux-Neuf in French and therefore was Samuel 29.

And he always wrote music hoping that Perry Como or Sinatra would stay alive long enough to record one of his songs. Maybe now Tony Bennett will...or Lady Gaga.

An industry memorial is currently in development which is hoped to be picked up for a full season...26 episodes...in the very near future.



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