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America through the eyes of two American-Americans

Sherwood Schwartz, 93

Schwartz, who began his more than six-decade career by writing gags for Bob Hope's radio show in 1939, died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his son Lloyd.

Schwartz once said he created "Gilligan's Island," which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967, as an escape from his seven years on "The Red Skelton Show," for which he served as head writer and won an Emmy in 1961.

Schwartz conceived the idea for the Brady series in 1965 after reading a brief news report that said nearly one-third of American households included at least one child from a previous marriage.

"I realized there was a sociological change going on in this country, and it prompted me to sit down to write a script about it," he recalled in a 2000 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Critics of the time hated both.


Filed under: Obituaries

Larry ‘Wild Man’ Fischer, 66

Despite his unconventional approach and a lifelong struggle with severe mental illness, Fischer, who died Thursday of heart failure at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center at age 66, went on to release several albums and became a cult figure — admired by some as an untamed practitioner of "outsider" art, but regarded less kindly by those who encountered the mercurial musician's sudden bursts of aggression.

"When you're working with somebody like Wild Man Fischer, or people who are 'out there,' the problems that arise after the album is completed sometimes become too much to bear," Frank Zappa, Fischer's most prominent patron, said in a 1970 interview.

Zappa had found something compelling in Fischer's musical outbursts. He produced a documentary-like double-album, "An Evening with Wild Man Fischer," and released it in 1968 on his Bizarre Records label.

"One thing that you must remember about Wild Man Fischer is that he actually is a wild person. And Larry is dangerous."

The relationship between Zappa and Fischer ended one day at Zappa's home, where Fischer — who suffered from manic depression and paranoid schizophrenia — became enraged and threw a bottle, barely missing Zappa's baby daughter, Moon Unit.


Filed under: Obituaries

Leonard Kastle, 82

French director Francois Truffaut called it his "favorite American film."

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni considered it "one of the purest movies I've ever seen."

Kastle, whose first film was destined to be his last, died May 18 at his home in Westerlo, N.Y., after a brief illness, said Tina Sisson, a friend. He was 82.

Kastle is considered one of America's most intriguing one-shot movie directors.

Neither he nor producer Warren Steibel had any filmmaking experience when they set out to make "The Honeymoon Killers," which gained cult status in America and Europe.

The film's original director was a young Martin Scorsese. But Scorsese's filmmaking pace was too slow and he was soon removed. Industrial filmmaker Donald Volkman then stepped in for a time before Kastle took over as the credited director.


Filed under: Obituaries
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