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Sol Saks dies at 100: Creator of 'Bewitched'


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http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-sol-saks-20110421,0,7135...

 

Sol Saks dies at 100; creator of 'Bewitched'

Veteran television writer and playwright Sol Saks wrote the pilot for

what became the popular sitcom "Bewitched." He never wrote another

episode.

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times

April 21, 2011

 

 

Sol Saks, a veteran television writer and playwright who created the

classic 1960s sitcom "Bewitched," has died. He was 100.

 

 

Saks, a longtime Sherman Oaks resident, died Saturday of respiratory

failure as a result of pneumonia at Sherman Oaks Hospital, said his

wife, Sandra.

 

 

Although Saks wrote the pilot script for the sitcom "Bewitched," he

never penned another episode of the popular series about a witch married

to a mortal. It ran on ABC from 1964 to 1972 and starred Elizabeth

Montgomery and, originally, Dick York.

 

 

"That was it: He just sat back and took in the royalties," said Paul

Wayne, longtime friend and a writer who freelanced on "Bewitched" for

two seasons.

 

 

In writing the pilot, he was inspired by the movies "Bell, Book and

Candle" (1958) and "I Married a Witch" (1942), Saks later recalled.

 

 

"He was pretty honest about the fact it wasn't a particularly original

idea," said Wayne. "He came in with both of those thoughts and wrote the

pilot and sat back and just became a millionaire on 'Bewitched.' It was

absolutely marvelous. He was very open about just being hit by a lucky

stick, so to speak."

 

 

In a radio career that began in Chicago in the late 1930s and continued

after he moved to Los Angeles in 1943, Saks wrote for shows including

"Duffy's Tavern," "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "The Baby

Snooks Show" and "The Beulah Show."

 

 

He moved into television in 1953 with "My Favorite Husband," a CBS

situation comedy based on the radio series. He also developed the

situation comedy "Mr. Adams and Eve" and wrote for series including "I

Married Joan," "Alcoa Theatre" and "Ford Startime."

 

 

Saks, who had a stint in the 1960s as a CBS executive in charge of

comedy series, also wrote the screenplay for "Walk, Don't Run," a 1966

comedy starring Cary Grant in his final film role.

 

 

Grant and Saks became friends during filming and later attended Dodger

games together. Sartorially speaking, the writer was no match for the

always-dapper star.

 

 

In a 2009 interview with the Television Academy Foundation's Archive of

American Television, Saks recalled that during the shooting of "Walk,

Don't Run" in Japan, his hotel "closet was in a dark corner and

sometimes in the restaurant with Cary Grant I'd look down and I'd see

I've got the wrong pants with the wrong coat.

 

 

"And after I got to know him well, I said, 'Cary, do you notice that

sometimes my coat doesn't match my pants?' He said, 'Sol, on you, I only

notice when they do.'"

 

 

Saks was a longtime member of Theatre West, the nonprofit arts

organization in Hollywood.

 

 

"Sol was the elder statesman of the group, an amazing man," said Stu

Berg, who directed several of Saks' plays at the theater, including "A

Dream of Butterflies," in 2003.

 

 

"One of the interesting things about him was the incredible amount of

energy he had and how sharp he was well into his 90s," said Berg. "He

was working on new things and sharpening up some things he had

previously worked on. He was always busy. He was kind of an inspiration

to all of us."

 

 

Born in New York City on Dec. 13, 1910, Saks moved with his family to

Chicago when he was about 2.

 

 

While attending Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism,

he became a reporter for a local weekly newspaper and occasionally sold

short stories before moving into radio.

 

 

His book, "The Craft of Comedy Writing," was published in 1985.

 

 

His first wife, Anne, died in 1972.

 

 

In addition to his second wife, Sandra, he is survived by his daughter,

Mary Spivey; his son, Daniel Saks; two granddaughters; and two

great-grandsons.

 

 

No services will be held. "Since we had a lavish 100th birthday party

for him, he considered that his living memorial," his wife said.

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