Tuesday, September 14, 2021

TV Writer Irma Kalish Passes On

Irma Kalish, who wrote episodes of such classic shows as F Troop, Family Affair, All in the Family, and others, died on September 2 2021 at the age of 96. The cause was complications from pneumonia. She often wrote with her husband, Austin Kalish.

Irma Kalish was born Irma Ginsberg on October 6 1924. She graduated from Syracuse University and began working as a magazine writer. She soon shifted to comedy writing. She married Austin Kalish in 1948 and the two moved to the West Coast. The couple then got a job writing for the radio show The Martin and Lewis Show, showing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Mr. and Mrs. Kalish eventually moved into television.  Irma Kalish's first television writing credit was The Millionaire episode "The Philip Sargent Story," co-written with Seelig Lester. In the Sixties Mrs. Kalish wrote several episodes of F Troop, Family Affair, and My Three Sons. She also wrote episodes of the shows The Patty Duke Show, Gidget, I Dream of Jeannie, Gidget, My Favourite Martian, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Hero, That Girl, He & She, Cimarron Strip, The Flying Nun, and Nanny and the Professor.

In the Seventies Irma and Austin Kalish served as executive producers on the sitcom Good Times. They also wrote several episodes of the series. They also served as producers on the short lived series Good Heavens and wrote several episodes of that show as well. They wrote several episodes of All in the Family. Among their work in that decade was the controversial two-part episode "Maude's Dilemma" of the TV show Maude, in which the title character considers whether or not she should have an abortion. Irma Kalish also wrote episodes of the shows Anna and the King, The Bob Newhart ShowThe Brian Keith Show, Apple's Way, Dusty's Trail, and Carter County, as well as several TV movies.

In the Eighties Irma Kalish served as a producer on the shows Too Close for Comfort and Oh Madeline. She served as an executive producer on The Facts of Life, 227, and Valerie. She wrote episodes of the shows Too Close for Comfort, Foot in the Door, Oh Madeline, Finder of Lost Loves, The Facts of Life, and 227. Mrs. Kalish also co-wrote the TV reunion movie I Dream of Jeannie..15 Years Later. She was one of the co-creators of the short-lived sitcom Sugar and Spike and co-wrote the pilot. Her final writing credit was co-writing an episode of The Famous Jett Jackson in 1998.

>With regards to movies, Irma and Austin Kalish co-wrote the screenplay for the movie Keep Off the Grass! (1975)

Irma Kalish was an active member of the Writers Guild of America. She served on both the board and as a vice president. She also served on the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund for twenty years. She was one of the first presidents of Women in Film.

As a writer Irma Kalish was certainly versatile, both with and without her husband Austin Kalish. She could write for comedies in multiple genres. You wrote some of the best episodes of the broad spoof F Troop, but at the same time she and Austin Kalish could handle serious topics (such as in the case of "Maude's Dilemma") with sensitivity while still remaining funny. She wrote several hours of some of the funniest classic sitcoms on television, everything from I Dream of Jeannie to Too Close for Comfort. She was also a pioneer. When Irma Kalish began writing for television, there were only a few women in the medium. She paved the way for other women to work in television. Irma Kalish may not be a recognizable name to the average person, but she provided them with many hours of quality television.

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