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R.I.P. Austin Kalish, veteran sitcom writer

(Photo: American Archive Of Television)

Austin “Rocky” Kalish, a giant in the world of TV comedy, has died at the age of 95, Deadline reports. Kalish had a three-decade career as a sitcom writer, and was equally adept at silly and serious. Early in his career, he co-wrote the pilot for Gilligan’s Island, and had a hand in creating the show’s characters, although he received neither credit nor royalties. He wrote for a slew of other ’60s sitcoms, including My Favorite Martian, F Troop, Family Affair, and My Three Sons.

But Kalish would do some of his best work writing for Norman Lear’s issue-oriented comedies in the ’70s. He wrote some of All In The Family’s most powerful dramatic episodes, including “Gloria The Victim,” in which Sally Struther’s character survives a rape attempt, and “Edith’s Christmas Story,” in which Edith has a cancer scare. He also wrote the still-talked-about episode of Maude in which the title character has an abortion, a subject that had barely been whispered on network television.

Kalish also produced and wrote for Good Times for Lear, and continued working through the ’80s on Too Close For Comfort and The Facts Of Life. He is survived by his wife Irma and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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