Six-time Emmy winner and creator of multiple sitcoms Allan Burns has passed away at 85. Burns co-created The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s.
Allan Burns, co-creator of The Munsters and a legendary figure in sitcom history, has passed away at the age of 85. Burns was the screenwriter and producer behind multiple classic TV comedies including The Mary Tyer Moore Show and Rhoda, the latter of which he co-created with his writing partner James L. Brooks. Burns won six Emmys for his varied contributions to the TV industry.
Burns is best known for developing The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom that ran from 1970-1977 and is considered a groundbreaking work of its genre. Moore plays an independent, working news producer on the show, a major feminist victory for the representation of women on screen at the time. The show was also remarkable as a sitcom with deep, three-dimensional characters rather than archetypes. Despite having both an Emmy and a successful TV show under his belt by the time he was hired to co-create a show starring Moore for CBS, Burns was surprised that he was given the responsibility. He worked on the show for seven seasons in the 1970s, during which time it won 29 Emmys.
Burns passed away Saturday, January 30, THR reports. A cause of death has not yet been announced. Burns' writing partner and close friend James L. Brooks shared the news of Burns' passing on Twitter today. Burns and Brooks began writing together on Brooks' show Room 222, after which the pair were hired to develop Mary Tyler Moore together. Brooks wrote:
His singular writing career brought him every conceivable recognition. But, you had to know him to appreciate his full rarity. He was simply the finest man I have every known. A beauty of a human.
Other friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Burns since hearing of his death, including Ed Asner, who played Lou Grant on Mary Tyler Moore:
Although his name is most often associated with early situational comedies, Burns got his start working for animated shows like The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, George of the Jungle, and Dudley Do-Right under the direction of Jay Ward. Burns also worked on films including A Little Romance starring Laurance Olivier. Burns won his first Emmy writing for He & She, a sitcom starring Paula Prentiss, along with his then-writing partner Chris Hayward. Hayward and Burns created The Munsters together, as well as the widely panned My Mother the Car. Burns would later appreciate the irony in his career encompassing "one of the better shows of all time" as well as "one show that everyone is sure of is the worst."
Allan Burns' contributions to the medium of television cannot be overstated. Burns jokingly claimed that he lucked his way into a career in television by sharing a uniform size with a recently departed NBC page. Now, the world has Burns to thank for a wealth of sitcoms including FM, Eisenhower and Lutz, Cutters, and The Duck Factory. With The Munsters and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, he helped reimagine the kinds of stories a situational comedy could tell. Regardless of his career achievements or their cultural significance, he is remembered by friends and colleagues first and foremost for his kindness and integrity.