Allan Burns, a television producer and screenwriter best known for cocreating and cowriting for the television sitcoms The Munsters, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rhoda, died Saturday at home. He was 85 and no details were immediately available on the cause of death.
Dan Pasternack, a producer and programming executive and longtime friend of the family, said Burns was a mentor to many. “As much of a legend as he was, and as diverse of a career as he enjoyed, the most remarkable thing about Allan Burns was how kind he was to so many people.”
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Burns was born May 18, 1935 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the University of Oregon from 1953 to 1957 before heading to Los Angeles and breaking into show business.
His first venture included working in animation for Jay Ward on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle. He also is credited with cowriting the unaired pilot episode of The Smothers Brothers Show from 1965.
Among his other accomplishments in his early days was creating the Cap’n Crunch cartoon character for Quaker Oats.
Burns formed a writing partnership with Chris Hayward, and the team created The Munsters (1964) and My Mother The Car (1965). They also worked as story editors for the CBS series He & She, winning an Emmy Award for comedy writing. They also teamed as story editors for the classic Get Smart.
In 1969, Burns joined forces with James L. Brooks. Burns joined the writing staff of Room 222 and later produced the series.
Grant Tinker took notice, and hired Burns and Brooks to develop a show for Mary Tyler Moore. The vehicle premiered in 1970, and its popularity spawned such spin-offs as Lou Grant and Rhoda.
Burns’s film resume includes screenwriting for the film A Little Romance, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, Just the Way You Are, and wrote and directed Just Between Friends.
One accomplishment Burns was particularly proud of was creating The Duck Factory, a sitcom that launched the career of comedian Jim Carrey.
Burns sat for an extensive interview with the Television Academy Foundation about the early days of the platform and his career. The complete interviews can be found here.
Actor Ed Asner, who played the gruff Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and his own series, sent out a tweet acknowledging the passing.
Survivors include his wife, Joan, two sons, Matt and Eric, their wives and several grandchildren.
No details on a memorial service were immediately available.
I am so sad at the passing of the Allan Burns. A mensch like no other, a friend and so incredibly talented. Say hello to the gang Allan. pic.twitter.com/Bgk9gyepiT
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 31, 2021
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