Thursday, November 7, 2019

Godspeed Bernard Slade

Bernard Slade, the creator of the TV shows The Partridge Family and The Flying Nun as well as the author of the play Same Time, Next Year, died on October 30 2019 at the age of 89. The cause was complications from Lewy body dementia.

Bernard Slade was born Bernard Slade Newbound on May 2 1930 in St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1935 his British parents returned to England. During World War II the family frequently moved due to evacuations caused by German bombing. He returned to Canada when he was 18. In Toronto, he took a job as an air steward before he answered an ad for summer stock actors. After several appearances on the Canadian stage, he made his television debut in 1955 in an episode of CBS Summer Theatre. He guest starred on such shows as First Performance, On Camera, General Motors Presents, and First Person. He broke into writing for television with an episode of the show On Camera in 1957. In the late Fifties he wrote episodes of the shows Matinee Theatre, One of a Kind, General Motors Presents, and Festival.

Bernard Slade began the Sixties writing episodes of Quest and Playdate. In 1964 he moved to Los Angeles where he began working for Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures' television subsidiary. He provided dialogue on an episode of My Living Doll and served briefly as the script consultant on the show. Mr. Slade was also the script consultant on Bewitched, writing 17 episodes of the show as well. He left Bewitched in 1966 to create the sitcom Love on a Rooftop with Harry Ackerman. The series ran only one season from September 1966 to August 1967. He developed the sitcom The Flying Nun from the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Rios. He left Screen Gems to serve as the script consultant on The Courtship of Eddie's Father during its first season. Afterwards he returned to Screen Gems where he created The Partridge Family. He drew upon real-life family pop group The Cowsills for inspiration. The Partridge Family proved to be a success, running for four seasons.

In the Seventies Bernard Slade created the short-lived sitcoms Bridget Loves Bernie and The Girl with Something Extra. He also wrote an episode of Good Heavens. He wrote the screenplay for the movie Stand Up and Be Counted (1972). Having grown frustrated with the television industry, he turned attention back to the stage and wrote the play Same Time, Next Year. Same Time, Next Year proved to be a success, with a long run on Broadway. Mr. Slade followed it with two more Broadway plays in the late Seventies: Tribute and Romantic Comedy. Same Time, Next Year was adapted as the 1978 movie of the same name, for which Mr. Slade wrote the screenplay. He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Tribute was adapted as the 1980 movie of the same name, for which Bernard Slade also wrote the screenplay.

In the Eighties he wrote the play Special Occasions, which closed on its opening night on Broadway. He wrote the screenplay for the 1983 adaptation of Romantic Comedy. He also wrote an episode of the TV show Trying Times. Bernard Slade would continue writing plays, including An Act of the Imagination, Fatal Attraction (not to be confused with the movie of the same name), Fling!, I Remember You, and You Say Tomatoes.

Quite simply, Bernard Slade was one of the most talented writers of Sixties sitcoms. He wrote some of the best episodes of Bewitched, including "The Witches Are Out" and "Aunt Clara's Old Flame." In addition to creating the show, he also wrote some of the best episodes of The Partridge Family. Of course, he also displayed his talent as a playwright. Some Time, Next Year was nominated for several Tony Awards and won the Tony for Best Actress. He certainly left a lasting impact, between his work in television and on Broadway.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

Sad news indeed. I enjoyed his sense of humour and humanity.

My happy theatre memories include three of Bernard Slade's plays in Toronto:

Tribute with Jack Lemmon, Rosemary Prinz, and Larry Haines
Same Time, Next Year with Joyce Van Patten and Conrad Janis
Fatal Attraction* with Dawn Wells and Ken Howard

*A mystery with no connection to the movie of that name.