The prolific TV writer was 94 and was also responsible for Gilligan's Island

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 12, 2011 02:25 PM
Courtesy Virgin Gotels Group Ltd; Inset: Dan Steinberg/AP

Sherwood Schwartz, who created two of the most popular sitcoms of the ’60s and ’70s, Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, died Tuesday in Los Angeles of natural causes, surrounded by his family, a family member announced. He was 94.

Not only did Schwartz send the passengers and crew of the Minnow on a three-hour tour, one that lasted from 1964 to 1967 (and forever after in reruns), but he also wrote the Gilligan’s theme song.

He did the same for the 1969-74 Brady Bunch, about a widow and a widower with a lot of kids – and a sagacious housekeeper.

And while critics threw bricks at both shows, the public lapped them up – possibly, at least in the case of The Brady Bunch, because he grounded the show in some type of reality.

A 1966 news story in the Los Angeles Times served as his inspiration, Schwartz recounted in his 2010 book Brady Brady Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch as Told by the Father/Son Team Who Really Know, which Sherwood wrote with his son, Lloyd J. Schwartz.

The item read, “In the year 1965, more than 29 percent of all marriages included a child or children from a previous marriage.”

Said Sherwood: “I knew instinctively that statistic was the key to a new and unusual TV series. It was a revelation! The first blended family! His kids and her kids! Together!”

The indefatigable Schwartz, who worked into his 90s, followed his brother Al as a gag writer for Bob Hope, then turned out scripts for the wholesome radio sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet before that show went to TV.

He also wrote the early ’50s sitcom I Married Joan, which was NBC’s great rival to CBS’s I Love Lucy, and developed the gimmicky but memorable My Favorite Martian, in 1963.

Besides son Lloyd, Sherwood Schwartz is also survived by his wife of 69 years, Mildred Schwartz, and sons Don Schwartz and Ross Schwartz, and daughter Hope Juber, who reportedly was named for Bob Hope.