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09/11/2010

One year ago: Larry Gelbart

September 11, 2010 |  7:00 am

Mash-writer Larry Gelbart, who developed the Korean War comedy "MASH," was called a comedy progidy by some of the very best comedians out there. He died one year ago at his Beverly Hills home.

"Larry Gelbart was among the very best comedy writers ever produced in America," said Mel Brooks, whose friendship with Gelbart dated to when they both wrote for Sid Caesar's comedy-variety show "Caesar's Hour" in the 1950s. Gelbart "had class, he had wit, he had style and grace. He was a marvelous writer who could do more with words than anybody I ever met," Brooks said.

The award-winning Gelbart shared an Emmy for "MASH" in 1974 and shared three Emmy nominations during his time on Caesar's show. He also made a mark on Broadway, co-writing the book for the hit musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which won a Tony for best musical.

In his 1998 memoir "Laughing Matters," Gelbart said the challenge of "MASH," which became the work for which he is best known, was being funny without ignoring the human suffering of war.

Gelbart's more than 60-year career began in radio during World War II when he was a 16-year-old student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. He made an impression writing for comedy shows, even being allowed to continue that work during a stint in the military.

For more on the comedic genius, read Larry Gelbart's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Larry Gelbart. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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