Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Godspeed Gene Reynolds

Gene Reynolds, the actor, director, and producer who developed M*A*S*H for television with Larry Gelbart and co-created the TV show Lou Grant with James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, died February 3 2020 at the age of 96.

Gene Reynolds was born Eugene Reynolds Blumenthal in Cleveland, Ohio on April 4 1923. He spent much of his childhood in Detroit. In 1934 his family moved to Los Angeles. As a boy he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He made his film debut in the Our Gang short "Washee Ironee" in 1934. That same year he made his feature film debut in Babes in Toyland (1934). During the Thirties he appeared in such films as The Calling of Dan Matthews (1935), Sins of Man (1936), Thank You, Jeeves! (1936), The Californian (1937), Madame X (1937), Thunder Trail (1937), In Old Chicago (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), The Crowd Roars (1938), Boys Town (1938), The Spirit of Culver (1939), The Flying Dutchman (1939), They Shall Have Music (1939), Bad Little Angel (1939), Edison, the Man (1940), The Mortal Storm (1940), Gallant Sons (1940), and Santa Fe Trail (1940).

During World War II Gene Reynolds served in the United States Navy. During the Forties he appeared in the films Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941), The Penalty (1941), Adventure in Washington (1941), Junior G-Men of the Air (1942), The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942), Eagle Squardron (1942), Jungle Patrol (1948), The Big Cat (1949), and Slatterly's Hurricane (1949). He made his television debut in 1949 in an episode of Your Showtime. He also guest starred on an episode of The Lone Ranger.

It was in the Fifties that Gene Reynolds broke into television writing and directing. He created the classic Western Tales of Wells Fargo with Frank Gruber and James Brooks. He directed episodes of the TV shows Tales of Wells Fargo, Hennesey, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Hot Off the Wire, Peter Gunn, and Leave It to Beaver. Mr. Reynolds continued acting, appearing in the movies 99 River Street (1953), Prisoner of War (1954), Down Three Dark Streets (1954), The Country Girl (1954), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), The McConnell Story (1955), Diane (1956), and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956). He guest starred on such TV shows as Armstrong Circle Theatre, Danger, Dragnet, I Led 3 Lives, General Electric Theatre, The Ford Television Theatre, Mr. District Attorney, The Man Behind the Badge, Public Defender, Annie Oakley, Lux Video Theatre, The Man with a Camera, You Are There, Damon Runyon Theatre, Waterfront, Studio 57, Highway Patrol, Crossroads, Whirlybirds, I Love Lucy, Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, Climax!, and Hennesey.

In the Sixties Gene Reynolds directed episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, 77 Sunset Strip, Margie, Father of the Bride, The Farmer's Daughter, My Three Sons, The Cara Williams Show, The Donna Reed Show, Many Happy Returns, Wendy and Me, Mister Roberts, Gidget, Hank, The Munsters, F Troop, Run Buddy Run, Love on a Rooftop, Occasional Wife, Captain Nice, The Second Hundred Years, Hogan's Heroes, N.Y.P.D, Mannix, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, and Room 222. He was a producer on Room 222. He made his last appearance as an actor in an episode of Captain Nice.

In the Seventies Mr. Reynolds co-created the shows M*A*S*H (with Larry Gelbart), Roll Out (with Larry Gelbart), Karen (with Larry Gelbart and Carl Kleinschmitt), and Lou Grant (with James L. Brooks and Allan Burns). He directed episodes of Room 222, Karen, M*A*S*H, The Fitzpatricks, and Lou Grant. He was a producer on M*A*S*H, Anna and the King, Roll Out, and Lou Grant.

In the Eighties Gene Reynolds wrote the pilot for the short-lived sitcom Mr. President. He directed episodes of The Duck Factory, Hometown, Mr. President, Heartbeat, Studio 5-B, A Fine Romance, In the Heat of the Night, and Life Goes On. He served as an executive producer on Blossom. In the Nineties he directed episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Monty, Christy, Promised Land, and Touched by An Angel.

There can be no doubt that Gene Reynolds left an indelible mark on American television. As a co-creator he was responsible for such classics as Tales of Wells Fargo, M*A*S*H, and Lou Grant. He directed hundreds of hours of classic television, including such shows as My Three Sons, F Troop, Hogan's Heroes, Room 222, M*A*S*H, and Lou Grant. Of the many shows he directed, he directed some of their best episodes, including the Andy Griffith Show episode "Alcohol and Old Lace," the F Troop episode "The Courtship of Wrangler Jane," the M*A*S*H episode "Bug Out." and the Lou Grant episode "Influence." He was nominated for twenty-four Emmy Awards and won six.  Gene Reynolds was a truly great television director and co-creator of some of the greatest television shows of all time.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

What a great, productive and creative life Gene had!