Gene Reynolds, television producer and co-creator of the iconic 1970s comedy series “M*A*S*H,” has died at 96.
The producer-director-writer passed away Monday in Burbank, California. Directors Guild of America representative Lily Bedrossian confirmed this sad news on USA TODAY.
Gene Reynolds, together with Larry Gelbart, co-created the famous anti-war CBS sitcom, which tells the everyday struggles of the staff of a mobile Army surgical hospital during the Korean War over 11 seasons. He’s also the writer and director of episodes for the socially conscious series.
“M*A*S*H” is a TV adaptation of Robert Altman’s distinguished 1970 film of the same name, elaborated on the dark comedy of war, as doctors keep patching up injured soldiers to send them back and be shot at again.
The show was launched in 1972 during the Vietnam War and mixed madcap antics and Groucho Marx-style banter, hosted by surgeons Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda), “Trapper John” McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) and later B.
J.Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), with a sad commentary about the horror of war and the loss of their commanding officer, Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson).
Reynolds also co-created the drama spinoff from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” entitled “Lou Grant,” alongside creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns in 1977.
He started his career as a child actor before deciding to work behind the camera. In the 60s, he directed television comedies like “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show” before co-creating “M*A*S*H”, the show which is described as one of the funniest, and at times, most serious comedies in the history of television.
In fact, the 1983 finale of the show is still recognized as the most-watched finale in TV history.
Reynolds won six times in the Emmy Awards and served as president of the Directors Guild of America for four years from 1993.
DGA president Thomas Schlamme said in a statement:
“His influence on the modern DGA was significant and lasting,”
“During his two terms as President, he dedicated himself to making the Guild more inclusive – broadening the leadership base, encouraging younger members to take leadership positions, strengthening ties between feature directors, pushing the industry to do better on diversity and working to modify DGA agreements so that filmmakers with low budgets could benefit from DGA membership.”
“Gene’s commitment to the Guild lasted long after his presidency ended, regularly attending Board and Western Directors Council meetings, and never hesitate to share his thoughts. He was passionate about this Guild, spirited in his beliefs and dedicated until the end.”
During his presidency on the Directors Guild of America, Gene Reynolds started the idea of having a DGA Student Film Awards – a yearly competition aimed at recognizing the works of great women and minority students at film schools across the nation – and chaired the Student Film Awards Committee from then on.