"There were some comedy writers who did comedy shows and that's all they did. We were able to move from a musical, a variety show, a soft show, a broad comedy show like 'F Troop' or something as heavy as doing a cancer (episode) on 'All in the Family'..."
About This Interview
In their three-hour interview, Austin "Rocky" Kalish (1921-2016) and his writing partner and wife, Irma discuss their long career as television writers. He talks about growing up in the Bronx and turning to writing while serving in the Army during World War II, and later moving to Los Angeles to work in radio and pen song lyrics. He recalls meeting Irma and and quickly becoming partners with her professionally. In their joint interview, Rocky and Irma discuss their first gigs writing for Martin & Lewis on the radio, and for The Colgate Comedy Hour in the early days of live television. They chronicle their writing careers on shows such as Gilligan's Island (for which they co-wrote the pilot with Elroy Schwartz and conceived of the characters), I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, F Troop, Family Affair, The Flying Nun, The Reconversion of Sister Shapiro, Carter Country, Too Close for Comfort, and The Facts of Life. They speak in detail about several episodes of All in the Family they wrote, including an emotional story about Edith's character in "Edith's Christmas Story," and the controversial "Gloria the Victim" episode. They describe writing "Maude's Dilemma" on Maude, and working with Norman Lear. They discuss working with a largely black cast on Good Times and the challenges of the show, and talk about various stars with whom they've worked, including Shelley Berman, Marilyn Monroe, and Fred MacMurray. They talk about creating the failed series Mason, and Irma speaks of writing books and her involvement with the Writers Guild and Motion Picture and Television Fund. Amy Harrington conducted the interview on December 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.