Saturday, November 13, 2010

TV Writer Coleman Jacoby Passes On

Television writer Coleman Jacoby, who with his partner Arnie Rosen wrote material for Jackie Gleason and later wrote for The Phil Silvers Show, passed at the age of 95 on October 20, 2010. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Coleman Jacoby was born Coleman Jacobs on April 16, 1915 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His mother died when he was still a child and his father deserted his family, so that Mr. Jacoby was placed in the Jewish Home for Babies and Children at age 7. He studied art and when he was 16 years old moved to New York City. He made a living painting murals for nightclubs and later started writing material for stand up comedians. It was gossip columnist Earl Wilson who suggested he change his surname to Jacoby because he thought it sounded well.

Coleman Jacoby broke into radio writing material for Bob Hope. He later wrote for Fred Allen and The Gay Nineties Review. Mr. Jacoby entered television writing for the legendary Your Show of Shows. He then teamed up with Ernie Rosen and together the two were hired to write material for Cavalcade of Stars, starring Jackie Gleason, on the DuMont network. Messrs. Jacoby and Rosen created many of Mr. Gleason's signature characters, including playboy Reginald Van Gleason III, Joe the Bartender, the Poor Soul, and others. It would be Messrs. Jacoby and Rosen who would team up Gleason and Carney, a partnership which lasted for decades. It was on the first skit featuring Reginald Van Gleason, who was being shot for a magazine advert for alcohol. In the role of the photographer, the two writers suggested Art Carney. Messrs Jacoby and Rosen continued to write for Jackie Gleason after he left DuMont for CBS.

Coleman Jacoby and Ernie Rosen would later write fifty episode of The Phil Silvers Show (AKA You'll Never Get Rich or Sgt. Bilko). The two wrote for Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine in 1962. The partnership dissolved when Mr. Rosen became producer on The Carol Burnett Show. Afterwards Mr. Jacoby produced children's television specials with his wife.

Coleman Jacboy was a gifted television writer who would have an enormous impact on the history of television. Indeed, with Coleman Jacoby and Arnie Rosen, The Honeymooners might never have come to be, as it was the two writers who first team up Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, who would go onto create the legendary series. In addition to working with Mr. Gleason, Mr Jacoby also wrote for the classic Your Show of Shows and The Phil Silvers Show. He had a natural gift for comedy, adept at creating funny situations as well as writing one liners. Because of this, he created a good deal of classic television comedy.

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