Phil Hahn – 2003 Inductee

Phil Hahn was born in 1932 in Bloomington (2012 population: around 10)  to Joe and Irene Hahn. He attended Bloomington Grade School and was a 1950 graduate of Osborne High School. In 1954 he graduated the University of Kansas. He first worked for Hallmark Cards and then became a comedy writer. He published articles and cartoons in Playboy and Esquire magazines and in Mad Magazine while also authoring six best-selling “adult children” books at the same time.

This led to being hired in the early 1960s by Hanna-Barbera, one of the leading cartoon production companies in Hollywood, as the writer for four animated series, including The Fantastic Four.

At the same time he submitted scripts for the shows Get Smart and M.A.S.H. In 1967 he became head writer for the series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, for which he won an Emmy, the most prestigious award in television. Through his long career he earned five Emmy nominations for writing and was honored in Canada as well with the National ACTRA Award for his Canadian TV show Excuse My French.

Phil Hahn was the head writer for the U.S. half of the legendary Live Aid Concert, held July 13, 1985 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s he served as a head writer and/or producer of a large number of TV variety shows starring John Denver, John Davidson, Andy Williams, Sonny and Cher, Donnie and Marie, and Barbara Mandrell among others. Phil was head writer for the U.S. portion of the Live Aid Concert of 1985, that decade’s most-watched musical program.

In his career Phil authored well over 1,000 scripts for television and was considered one of the masters of comedy in Hollywood for nearly a quarter century. He wrote lines for such actors/comedians as Bob Hope, Don Knotts, Goldie Hawn, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Jack Lemmon, Gregory Peck, Burt Reynolds, and Bette Midler.

Phil has had 8 books published, including 3 humor books, four books of children’s humor, and one book of children’s humorous verse. In 2004, Henrietta the Homely Duckling was released, and he recently completed a memoir, Thank You for Flying American-A Cold War Love Story.  He and his Writing Group have self-published two anthologies, Naked Wednesdays and Naked Wednesdays, Too.

Phil currently lives in Coos Bay, Oregon with his wife, Kathleen, and their twin daughters, Karlie and Kelsie.

* * * * *

The following story © 2002 Mark Evanier
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED November 26, 1999:

Suppose you were given a choice of two activities and you absolutely, positively had to do one of them. Which of these would you pick?

One activity is to breakdance barefoot across a field strewn with shards of broken glass. The other activity is to write a network variety show.

For me, it’s No Contest. I’ve written network variety shows and give me the broken glass, anytime. To explain why, I have only to tell The Cesar Romero Story.

Years ago, there was a five-week Summer variety series on ABC called The Half-Hour Comedy Hour which you probably didn’t see. Odds are, you were watching The “A” Team on NBC, along with most of America.

The producers hired a terrific cast of then-unknowns, including Arsenio Hall, Jan Hooks, and Victoria Jackson and a large writing staff, myself included. They felt I was a handy guy to have around when something had to be written at the last minute…which, on a variety show, is the only way things are ever written.

After having head-written variety shows for several years, I had given up the vineyard for reasons that will become apparent. Still, the cast and crew of this show looked like they would be fun to work with…so I said yes. Fortunately for my health and sanity — what little I had left of each — I was not going to head-write. That task was left to a wickedly witty gent named Phil Hahn.

Phil got his start writing greeting cards for the Hallmark folks in Kansas City. He teamed up with a friend named Jack Hanrahan and they began writing for Mad Magazine. They also helped one of Hallmark’s star artists, Paul Coker, become a regular illustrator for Mad.

Later, Hahn and Hanrahan migrated to Hollywood where they quickly became one of the hottest comedy-writing teams in town, working on Get Smart, the original Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Sonny & Cher and many more. They also wrote for a number of Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the late-60’s. There was a period where their credits could be seen on almost every show I watched.

They’d gone their separate ways, with Phil heading off to Utah for a time to produce various TV shows starring various people named Osmond. Now, he was back and doing a fine job organizing the scripting of an utterly chaotic enterprise.

Here’s a true story — Actually, everything I’m telling you here is true but I have to emphasize that this one is true because it’s so incredible.

One day while I was working on the show, my friend Russell Myers happened to be in L.A., visiting from outta-town, and he came by so we could go to lunch. Russell is, of course, the acclaimed cartoonist behind the wonderful newspaper strip, Broom-Hilda.

As we were heading out for a bite, he happened to glimpse Phil Hahn sitting behind a desk in his office with the door open. Russell took three steps past, stopped and said, “I know that man.”

I took him in and introduced him to Phil who said, “I know you from somewhere, too.” It took them maybe thirty seconds to figure it out.

Twenty years earlier, Russell Myers had worked in the Hallmark building in Kansas City, designing cards. Phil Hahn had the office across the hall.

Little, tiny world.

Near the start of production on The Half-Hour Comedy Hour, the producers went into Phil’s office and asked him to have us (the writing staff) start whipping up cameo spots for certain guest stars they hoped to procure. One of them listed the prospective guests for Phil: Burt Reynolds, Stevie Wonder, James Coburn, Donna Summer.

Phil pulled out a legal pad and wrote on it, “Four Cesar Romero spots.”

They said, “No, no. Cesar Romero isn’t going to be on the show. We’re going to get Burt Reynolds, Stevie Wonder, James…”

Phil just leaned back in his chair and said, “I’ve done a lot of variety shows and the producers always come in the first day and say they’re getting Burt Reynolds, and it always winds up being Cesar Romero. He’s always available. No matter who they say they’re going to book, they always wind up with Cesar Romero. So we’ll just write the spots for Cesar and it’ll save us a lot of work later, switching them over.”

But the producers insisted — “We’re getting Burt Reynolds!” — and told Phil to write sketches for the names they’d named. Phil complied but he had us write them like this…

BURT REYNOLDS SPOT
(Cesar Romero)

BURT (Cesar) ENTERS, SITS DOWN NEXT TO A BEAUTIFUL GIRL.

BEAUTIFUL GIRL
Oh, Mr. Reynolds! (Mr. Romero), I’ve seen all your movies…

BURT (Cesar)
Oh, thank you…

BEAUTIFUL GIRL
I especially loved you in “Deliverance.” (on the “Batman” TV show.)

And so on. Perhaps feeling challenged by Phil’s attitude, they set to work and managed to land, for cameo guest appearances, not only Burt, Stevie, James, and Donna, but also Lindsay Wagner, Richard Pryor, Robert Guillaume, Anson Williams, Henny Youngman, Tony Danza, Dick Clark, Bob Eubanks, David Horowitz, several others I’m forgetting and, yes, even Pia Zadora. Pia Zadora, by the way, is about eight inches tall.

These were cameo spots, meaning that the star came in, taped a bit or two and left. Generally speaking, this took from 30 minutes to two hours.

Usually, they had not seen the material in advance. They’d arrive and the producer would round up a couple of writers to demonstrate what had been written. We’d act out the bit for the guest and, if they had problems with it, do a fast rewrite to suit.

One day, I was sitting on the set with another writer — a clever gent named Mert Rich — when a frantic production assistant ran up to us. “You’re needed backstage,” she yelled. “Joan Collins is here!”

Mert and/or I muttered something about being fed up with guest stars who insist on having sex with the writers. The P.A. didn’t get that we were kidding and said, “No, no! You have to act out the sketch for her.”

We did. We went back to her dressing room and Ms. Collins watched in ice-encrusted silence as Mert and I performed a couple of short comedy bits. When we were done, we waited for her to say something — “I like it” or “I hate it” or anything. Instead, after a very long pause, she turned to Mert and said, “Get me a tissue.”

She pronounced it very British with no “h” sound in it: Tiss-you. As if it rhymed with “miss you” or “kiss you.”

Mert was baffled. He was a writer on the show — a good one, too — not an errand boy. Ms. Collins, however, was a very special guest star and it would not help matters if she got irate and stormed out. Obligingly, he went over to the Make-Up Room and fetched what she’d asked him to fetch.

She didn’t say “thank you.” In fact, I don’t think she ever said anything to either of us. But she did go out and tape the spots we’d demonstrated and then she departed.

A little later that day, John Davidson was in to tape a spot. He was right in the middle of it when he suddenly stopped and called out, “Hold it! Is Mert Rich here? Mert Rich?”

Mert was backstage but he heard John Davidson (whom he had never met) yelling his name and ran out. “You wanted me?”

“Yes, Mert,” John announced. “Get me a tiss-you!”

The whole crew broke up and Mert realized he’d been had. Someone — I wonder who – had briefed Davidson to ask that.

Thereafter, almost every single guest star on the show asked Mert for a tiss-you. Everyone on the crew asked, too. Mert would walk through the halls of NBC and total strangers would ask him for a tiss-you. He took to carrying a box of Kleenex around at all times and dispensing them to everyone who asked…and even a few who didn’t.

The other cameo stars were all wonderful, especially Ricardo Montalban, who was just as nice as you’d want Ricardo Montalban to be. He actually did not care for the piece that had been written for him — not that it wasn’t funny but we had him playing himself and flirting with a cute blonde. That was a problem.

He graciously explained he had been married a long time to a very well-known actress. He had also worked for much of his career to improve the image of Hispanic characters in film, particularly to counter the stereotype of the “Latin Lover.” We could ridicule him in any other way we liked, he said, but he would prefer not to suggest that he would ever cheat on his spouse.

Ordinarily, when a star says he won’t do what you’ve written, what you want to say is, “Shut up and read the cue cards, you overpaid ex-waiter.” You can’t always say that, of course, but the thought does come to mind.

But Señor Montalban was so charming, we fell over ourselves to rewrite until he was satisfied. He was the politest actor I’ve ever met in my life. He didn’t even ask Mert to get him a tiss-you.

Meanwhile, throughout weeks of taping, Phil Hahn was wandering around the stage, puzzled, muttering, “Where’s Cesar? Why isn’t Cesar here? He always shows up, sooner or later…” When the daily Call Time sheets were distributed, Phil would snatch them up and search for Cesar Romero, worrying that maybe he was ill or something…

Hahn was baffled because booking guests on a variety show is usually the killer headache. The ones the network likes are never available. The ones that are available, the network can’t stand. Any guests who are available and acceptable to the network want more money than you can possibly afford to pay them, plus they won’t rehearse. They want to show up, tape, and be gone in an hour, plus they want to read the material before they’ll commit.

The last demand is the killer for writers. I don’t know how many times I’ve been sitting there and the producer runs in and says, “We’ve got a shot at getting William Shatner if he likes the material and if we’ll let him sing. Write something up!”

So I, dutiful Head Writer that I am, work with the staff and cobble up a sketch in which Bill gets to sing, gets to squeeze some pretty ladies, and gets all the laughs…but before it’s even done, in rushes the producer who says, “Shatner’s just left to do a film in Europe, but I think we have a shot at getting Fran Drescher if she likes the material. Switch the Shatner bit.”

— to which I protest, it can’t be done: We have Star Trek jokes in there, T.J. Hooker jokes, Rescue 911 jokes…and the producer says, “Look, I promised Drescher’s agent I’d have some pages over there, this afternoon. Write something.”

You think I’m exaggerating? I swear this is true: On one show I did, the network wanted us to get Penny Marshall and her then-hubby, Rob Reiner, to guest. We wrote a sketch for the both of them — a very funny sketch, I thought. Then Rob decided he wasn’t available so we rewrote it for Penny alone. Okay, fine. Then Penny wanted too much money but, luckily, Sally Struthers was available. Okay: Out Penny, in Sally.

We rewrote the sketch again for Sally (not a huge change) and Sally actually showed up to rehearse for about an hour. Then she got a movie to do so good-bye, Sally. Now, who could we get? How about Erik Estrada? Fine. Out Sally, in Erik. We had to rewrite the sketch from Sally to Erik who is, after all, almost the exact same type (?). Then the network called and said they wanted Penny in the show so much, they’d chip in for her fee. So then we went back and rewrote the Erik sketch so it was Erik and Penny, both.

Done? Nope. Penny then decided she didn’t want to be in the same sketch with Erik. She wanted her own sketch. So we put the Erik sketch back the way it was, wrote a whole new sketch for Penny and trimmed everything else in the show to make room for the Penny sketch.

I don’t know how many times we rewrote that sketch. A secretary told me it was 32 and it may have been. And remember that every rewrite involved costumes and sets and props and music cues and cast approvals and censors and migraines galore.

It’s like that on every show, night through day and back again. We stay up ’til all hours, trying to switch the Erik Estrada material to Sherman Hemsley without changing much because we tape in ten hours and there’s no time to build new sets or costumes or change music that’s already recorded.

The Estrada/Hemsley conversion is a true example and one of the easier ones I had to make. Another time, it was changing a part conceived for Buddy Ebsen to Florence Henderson. Yet another time, Leonard Nimoy cancelled and the producer said he’d find a replacement who was similar so we could use what was already written. He got Jerry Lewis. Now, are you beginning to understand why I stopped writing variety shows?

There are two Post Scripts to this tale. One is that The Half-Hour Comedy Hour did okay, given its competition, but not okay enough to warrant more episodes. Still, it helped Jan Hooks and Victoria Jackson get “discovered” for Saturday Night Live…and Arsenio Hall has done pretty well for himself, as have most of the other cast members and writers.

Post Script Number Two is a call I got a few months later from Phil Hahn. He was writing a variety show for someone and they told him, “Hey, we’re getting Bette Midler! Write something for her.” Phil forgot and actually wrote something for Bette Midler.

Weeping over the phone, he told me, “They just came in and told me they couldn’t get Bette and I had to switch the sketch around to the star they could get. You’ll never guess who it is…”

Yes, it was him. He’s always available.

(P.S. – I wrote the above article in 1984. Since then, Mr. Romero has passed away. This has only slightly cut down on his availability.)

* * * * *

THREE’S COMPANY – “CHRISSY’S NIGHT OUT”

Description: Jack defends Chrissy’s honor when a man who misunderstood her friendliness shows up at the apartment and no one knows he’s a cop.

Cast:
John Ritter – Jack Tripper
Joyce DeWitt – Janet Wood
Suzanne Somers – Chrissy Snow
and starring as the Ropers:
Norman Fell – Stanley Roper
Audra Lindley – Helen Roper
James Cromwell – Detective Lannigan
Credit:
Developed and Produced By:
Don Nicholl
Michael Ross
Bernie West
Directed By:
Bill Hobin
Michael Ross
Bernie West
Teleplay By:
Phil Hahn
Stuart Gillard
Story By:
Phil Hahn
Executives in Charge of Production:
Ted Bergmann
Don Taffner

Synopsis: Jack and Janet panic when they discover that Chrissy isn’t home yet from evening out with the girls from the office, and it’s three A.M. When Chrissy does get home she’s in tears because a cute guy she met at the Funky Fox bar has mistaken her friendliness for something else. A few minutes later the “cute guy” arrives at the apartment, and before he has a chance to identify himself as Detective Lannigan of the Vice Squad, Jack, in an angry burst of protectiveness, flattens him. Lannigan comes to and reads Jack his rights for having assaulted an officer. When Roper tells Lannigan he’ s been punched by a fairy, Lannigan decides his reputation would be better off if he bends the law a bit himself, and lets Jack off.

This episode is currently not available on home video. Watch for it on regular television.

* * * * *

PHIL HAHN’S CAREER TELEVISION CREDITS

“Mama’s Family” (1 episode)
Bed and Breakdown (12 March 1988) – Writer (written by)

“Punky Brewster” (1 episode)
Unhooking Henry (7 December 1987) – Writer (written by)

“Head of the Class” (1 episode)
Coach Charlie (4 November 1987) – Writer (written by)

Dolly
Writer
Season 1: Episode 13 1/19/1988
Season 1: Episode 12 12/13/1987
Season 1: Episode 10 11/29/1987
Season 1: Episode 8 11/15/1987
Season 1: Episode 5 10/25/1987
+ 6 MORE CREDITS

“Check It Out” (1 episode)
Otherwise Engaged (22 January 1986) – Writer (written by)

“The 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour” (1 episode)
Episode #1.1 (5 July 1983) – Writer (writer)

“Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” (1 episode)
Episode #1.1 (18 November 1980) – Writer (writing supervisor)

The Captain and Tennille
Head Writer
Season 2: Episode 23: The Captain & Tennille In Hawaii 5/5/1978
Season 2: Episode 22: The Captain & Tennille In New Orleans 4/3/1978

“Donny and Marie” (19 episodes )
Episode #1.1 (23 January 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.3 (6 February 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.6 (5 March 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.7 (12 March 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.8 (19 March 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.10 (2 April 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.11 (9 April 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.13 (23 April 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.3 (8 October 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.5 (22 October 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.11 (31 December 1976) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.12 (14 January 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.14 (28 January 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.3 (7 October 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.5 (28 October 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.7 (11 November 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.8 (18 November 1977) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.14 (3 February 1978) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.3 (13 October 1978) – Writer (writer)

Three’s Company
Writer
Season 2: Episode 9: Chrissy’s Night Out (15 November 1977) – Writer (story) (teleplay)

“The Sonny and Cher Show” (33 episodes )
Episode #1.1 (1 February 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.2 (8 February 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.3 (15 February 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.4 (22 February 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.5 (29 February 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.6 (7 March 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.7 (14 March 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.8 (21 March 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.9 (28 March 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.10 (4 April 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #1.11 (11 April 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.1 (26 September 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.2 (3 October 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.3 (10 October 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.4 (17 October 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.5 (24 October 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.6 (31 October 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.7 (7 November 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.8 (14 November 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.9 (21 November 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.10 (28 November 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.11 (5 December 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.12 (12 December 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.13 (19 December 1976) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.14 (14 January 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.15 (21 January 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.16 (28 January 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.17 (4 February 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.18 (11 February 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.19 (18 February 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.20 (25 February 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.21 (4 March 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer
Episode #2.22 (11 March 1977) – Writer (writing supervisor) , producer

“The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” (58 episodes )
Episode #2.1 (27 December 1971) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.2 (3 January 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.3 (10 January 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.4 (17 January 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.5 (24 January 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.6 (31 January 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.7 (7 February 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.8 (14 February 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.9 (21 February 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.10 (28 February 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.11 (6 March 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.12 (13 March 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.13 (20 March 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.1 (15 September 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.2 (23 September 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.3 (30 September 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.4 (6 October 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.5 (13 October 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.6 (20 October 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.7 (27 October 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.8 (3 November 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.9 (10 November 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.10 (17 November 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.11 (4 December 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.12 (11 December 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.13 (18 December 1972) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.14 (6 January 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.15 (13 January 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.16 (20 January 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.17 (27 January 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.18 (3 February 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.19 (10 February 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.20 (17 February 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.21 (24 February 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.22 (4 March 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.23 (14 March 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #3.24 (18 March 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.1 (12 September 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.2 (19 September 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.4 (3 October 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.5 (10 October 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.6 (17 October 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.7 (24 October 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.8 (31 October 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.9 (7 November 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.10 (14 November 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.12 (5 December 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.13 (19 December 1973) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.14 (2 January 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.15 (9 January 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.16 (16 January 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.17 (23 January 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.18 (30 January 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.19 (6 February 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.20 (13 February 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.21 (20 February 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.22 (27 February 1974) – Writer (writer)
Episode #4.23 (6 March 1974) – Writer (writer)

Ken Berry’s ‘Wow’ Show
Writer
Season 1: Episode 1: 7/15/1972

“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” (40 episodes)
Season 2: Episode 13: Guest Star, Cameo Appearance
Episode #1.1 (22 January 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.2 (29 January 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.3 (5 February 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.4 (12 February 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.5 (19 February 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.6 (26 February 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.7 (4 March 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.8 (11 March 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.9 (25 March 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.10 (1 April 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.11 (8 April 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.12 (15 April 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.13 (22 April 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #1.14 (29 April 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.1 (16 September 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.2 (23 September 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.3 (30 September 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.4 (7 October 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.5 (14 October 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.6 (21 October 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.7 (28 October 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.8 (11 November 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.9 (18 November 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.10 (25 November 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.11 (2 December 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.12 (16 December 1968) – Writer (writer)
Episode #2.13 (30 December 1968) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.14 (6 January 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.15 (13 January 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.16 (20 January 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.17 (29 January 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.18 (3 February 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.19 (10 February 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.20 (17 February 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.21 (24 February 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.22 (3 March 1969) – Writer (script supervisor) , script supervisor
Episode #2.23 (10 March 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.24 (17 March 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)
Episode #2.25 (24 March 1969) – Writer (script supervisor) , script supervisor
Episode #2.26 (31 March 1969) – Writer (script supervisor)

Birdman and the Galaxy Trio
Writer:
Season 1: Episode 25: The Menace Of Dr. Millenium 9/9/1967
Story:
Season 2: Episode 5: Galaxy Trio And The Peril Of The Prison Planet 10/28/1968
Season 2: Episode 7: Titan, the Titanium Man 1/20/1968
Season 1: Episode 10: Mentor, The Mind Taker 1/13/1968
Season 2: Episode 4: Galaxy Trio and the Sleeping Planet 1/6/1968
Season 1: Episode 40: Morto Rides Again! 1/6/1968
+ 18 MORE CREDITS

The Fantastic Four (1967)
Writer
Season 1: Episode 20: The Deadly Director 9/21/1968
Season 1: Episode 19: The Terrible Tribunal 9/14/1968
Season 1: Episode 10: The Mysterious Molecule Man 1/13/1968
Season 1: Episode 17: Blast Starr, The Living Bomb Burst 1/6/1968
Season 1: Episode 16: The Micro World Of Dr. Doom 12/30/1967
Galactus (16 December 1967) – Writer (story)
Prisoners of Planet X (14 October 1967) – Writer (story)
Menace of the Mole Man (9 September 1967) – Writer (story)
+ 15 MORE CREDITS

Get Smart
Die, Spy (30 March 1968) – Writer (teleplay)
The Hot Line (23 March 1968) – Writer (teleplay)
The Little Black Book: Part 2 (3 February 1968) – Writer (written by)
The Little Black Book: Part 1 (27 January 1968) – Writer (written by)
That Old Gang of Mine (2 December 1967) – Writer (written by)

The Space Ghost/Frankenstein Jr. Show
Writer
Season 2: Episode 18: The Spooktaculars 1/7/1967
Season 2: Episode 17: The Pilfering Putty Monster 12/31/1966
Season 2: Episode 16: The Monstermobile 12/24/1966
Season 2: Episode 15: The Mad Monster Maker 12/17/1966
Season 2: Episode 14: The Manchurian Menace 12/10/1966
+ 13 MORE CREDITS

OTHER TELEVISION CREDITS
Comedy Break With Mack & Jamie (TV Series)
Nashville Palace (TV Series)
Osmond Family Show (TV Series)
John Davidson Show (TV Series)

Felix Xerxes Gygax – 1997 Inductee

It is a long way from the hills of Osborne County to the rank of Rear Admiral in United States Navy. In fact, only one Osborne County native has ever managed to achieve that lofty position.

Felix Xerxes Gygax was born March 30, 1884, in Hancock Township, Osborne County, Kansas. He was raised on the farm of his parents, Rudolf and Regina (Zimmerman) Gygax, and attended the local rural one-room schools. After graduation from Downs High School Felix taught school for a couple of years until he won an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1903. He graduated on September 12, 1906, and was assigned to the U.S.S. Kearsage in time to participate in the 14-month around-the-world voyage of the Great White Fleet ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt from December 1907 to September 1909. Upon his return he was transferred to the U.S.S. Minnesota.

America's Great White Fleet traveled around the world on a 14-month voyage starting in 1907 in a display of growing U.S. naval strength.
America’s Great White Fleet traveled around the world on a 14-month voyage starting in 1907 in a display of growing U.S. naval strength.

On November 16, 1911, Lieutenant Gygax married Estelle Ise at the Ise family home in Lawrence, Kansas. The couple later raised two sons, Felix Jr., and Rex Gygax. A week after the wedding Felix reported for duty as a naval inspector at Winterthur, Switzerland, where submarine diesel engines were being built in a diesel factory for the U.S. Navy. When he learned that the Swiss wanted to charge him income tax, he succeeded in being appointed naval attaché at Bern, Switzerland, which exempted him from the tax.

Felix was then appointed first officer in charge of the submarine school in New London, Connecticut, until 1920, when he assisted in the establishment of the submarine base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He then served in the Naval Department in Washington, D.C., and now held the rank of admiral.

In 1933 Admiral Gygax was made Professor of Naval Science and Tactics at the University of California at Berkeley, after which he commanded the U.S.S. Augusta, then the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. After a brief command of Cruiser Division 3 he was transferred to command of the Norfolk (VA) Naval Yard in 1940, also receiving a presidential designation as Rear Admiral. In 1942 he was appointed commandant of the First Naval District in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was in charge of the Boston Naval Yard and later the Norfolk Navy Yard.

When Rear Admiral Gygax retired August 1, 1946, he was the holder of the Legion of Merit and was an honorary commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. With his wife he built an adobe house in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and settled into a quiet retirement. He passed away February 24, 1977, in San Diego, California, and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery at Washington, D.C.

Commander Felix Gygax
Rear Admiral Felix X. Gygax as Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard.
One of the personal highlights of Felix Gygax’s Naval career was participating in the commissioning of the light cruiser U.S.S. Topeka in December 1944.
The U.S.S. Topeka in 1962.

Elbert Jacob Guyer – 2002 Inductee

Elbert Guyer doing farmwork on the family homestead in Osborne County, Kansas.

Farmer/inventor/businessman Elbert Jacob Guyer was born October 24, 1914 to William and Maude (Ruthi) Guyer on the family homestead in Kill Creek Township of Osborne County.

At the 2002 Osborne County Hall of Fame Banquet Elbert’s grandson, John Trenton Guyer, gave the following induction speech on the life of his grandfather:

“I’m John Trenton Guyer, Elbert Guyer’s grandson . . . .

In 1875, Elbert’s Grandfather, John W. Guyer homesteaded in a typical sod house along the banks of Kill Creek Township after having walked through a dozen states as a Civil War Union soldier. He had originally come from Switzerland settling in Wisconsin and then Kill Creek.

Elbert, my grandfather, started out in Osborne County, where he grew up on that same farm his grandfather homesteaded. On clear, cold, early winter mornings, while performing the family chores, he often heard the train whistle of the coal fired steam engine run through Bloomington. He never imagined he would see much of the world and the far-off distances the train was headed. He drove a Model A Ford, 11 miles to High School on the dirt roads through mud, snow and ice. The driving experience in those conditions served him well as he later drove throughout all 50 states and 6 Canadian provinces. He accumulated over several million miles hauling or towing products on two-lane highways and roads, oftentimes sleeping in the pickup truck cab.

He also journeyed throughout all the continents of the world except Antarctica and circled the world eight times while experiencing government coups, hazardous airline flights and cultural obstacles. Throughout the years, he always came back to Osborne County to visit family and friends and the ranchland he still owns here.

Elbert and Marval Guyer

Elbert came through the hardship of the dust bowl days. After high school, with no finances to further his education, he ventured into farming to support his family. This led to custom harvesting, which evolved into manufacturing. Being a custom harvester in the grain fields between Texas and North Dakota required healthy self-sufficiency and guidance from God. Elbert reportedly made a public prayer for the crew’s safety before each journey. He and his crew of 10 men spent many nights in their bedrolls under the stars, along with four combines loaded on four grain trucks. Elbert depended on his ingenuity and self-sufficiency along with a portable workshop that also traveled with the crew. It was stocked with a welder, cutting torch, air compressor, parts stock and tools of the day. He could design and build tools not available anywhere else. This eliminated down-time and waiting on parts or making trips for supplies increasing production many times over. This capability was a step towards manufacturing and testing grounds for later products.

One such product was a Milo guard; a combine attachment that prevented Sorghum Heads from being knocked to the ground before the grain could make it into the combine’s storage bin. It was effective and comparatively easy to install and uninstall. It became so popular that piecework was contracted through various points in the county. The Milo guard was followed by other products such as round bottom feed bunks, soft drink cases, partition repair kits, playground equipment and another sign of the time: TV towers. At least one tower still stands in Alton.

Elbert invented the recirculating batch dryer and experimented with the development of it while custom harvesting. The grain dryer became very popular for “on-the-farm” drying and eventually found its place on farms and elevators in 54 countries around the world. But before it could be produced, growing pains required expansion. Families were beginning to introduce television into their homes. Whenever Elbert’s spot welder was engaged, the TV reception up and down the creek would fade and recover from the power surge. Downed phone lines that occurred from the oversized harvesting equipment passing through, plus the party telephone lines busy with business calls meant this expansion required a move. The family said good-bye to Osborne County, and eventually expanded into manufacturing in Moundridge, Kansas.

Today the company called Moridge Manufacturing, Incorporated, produces 33 models of the Grasshopper zero-turn mowers, which was introduced in 1970. Elbert credits the company’s engineering staff for developing the basic mower concept and shaping a product that has been a centerpiece of the commercial mowing industry. The success of the Grasshopper has been due in large part to the pioneering spirit and self-sufficiency instilled by Elbert along with the company’s ability to manufacture and market new products. Other products previously developed and produced by MoridgeManufacturing have been:

• 10″ Baldwin Grain Auger

• Automatic Tube Cattle Feeder
• Goose Neck Stock Trailer
• Springtooth Harrows
• Soybean Roasters and
• Poultry Barn Heaters

Today, the approximately 300,000 square foot plant, continuing the tradition of self-sufficiency, has utilized robotic welders since 1984. In addition, Moridge owns two of only 100 robotic press brakes running nationwide, all computer numerically controlled brakes and shears, laser fabricators, a powder paint system and 250 personnel.

Of course Elbert could not have accomplished this without the support of his wife of 65 years, Marvel Hackerott Guyer. Not only did Marvel take care of the household, but she also did bookkeeping and many times kept the factory running while he was on the road selling products.

Each generation has passed on a legacy to the next and I’m pleased to say ‘Thank you’ for recognizing my grandfather’s hard work and contributions.”

Elbert Guyer passed away in Moundridge on December 22, 2003, and was buried in the Mound Township Cemetery near Moundridge.

The Elbert and Marval Guyer gravestone, located in Mound Township Cemetery near Moundridge, Kansas.

Orville Grant Guttery – 2001 Inductee

Orville Grant Guttery, son of Charles and Victoria A. Doak Guttery, was born May 4, 1886, at Alton, Kansas. Later she married Louisa May Conn at her home east of Alton on April 15, 1908.

Grant, or “Crackie,” as he was both known as, was instrumental in saving much of the early history of Osborne County. In 1928 he canvassed the entire county to discover all marked and unmarked graves of Osborne County military veterans, saving many from oblivion in the process, and led a campaign to place military markers on their graves. For 40 years he took photos of Osborne County rural schools and homes. Many of these are now the only known images left of these places, and are preserved in the Osborne County Museum. Grant also led the movement in 1930 to place a proper monument on the grave of fellow Hall of Famer and noted early Osborne County resident Hiram C. Bull.

Grant was 50 years ahead of everyone else in his thinking. As such Grant was considered a little odd or different, by even his own family. He had a variety store in downtown Alton where he repaired shoes in the back, and sold antiques and milk from a single cow. He had penny candy up front for the kids. He was an antique dealer long before there was such a thing. On the window of his store was the word “RELICS” to describe what he sold. He was a member of the Woodmen Lodge of America and was a devoted church worker in the local Methodist church. He drove a Model A coupe and derived a great deal of pleasure collecting used frames and lenses for the organization known as “Eyes for the Needy,” having sent hundreds of frames and lenses to them.

Grant’s collection of scrapbooks is on file in the Osborne City Library, Osborne, Kansas. Between these covers are many historical articles on the city of Alton and of Osborne County in general.

Louisa Guttery passed away on January 20, 1957. Grant lived alone after the passing of his wife until he also passed away, on December 16, 1959.

In 2011 Grant’s collections of stories and letters concerning the early history of the town of Bull City – later called Alton – were gathered from his scrapbooks and posthumously published by Ad Astra Publishing under the title Tales of a Town Named Bull City.

Ralph Jerome Green – 2003 Inductee

Ralph Jerome Green was born in 1888 in Morland, Kansas. He was the son of Lemuel and Adaline Green. Ralph lived for a number of years in Alton, where his father operated the mill and Ralph attended elementary school.

A calm, soft-spoken individual, Ralph went to high school in Osborne, Kansas, where as an early entrepreneur he would catch fish on Saturdays in the South Fork Solomon River and sell them. Ambition, work and a constant pushing toward improvements were habits he gained early in life.

After high school graduation his family moved to Concordia, Kansas.  In 1917 he helped form the Green Light and Power Company in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and served as company treasurer. Later this was reorganized into what later became the Missouri Public Services Company. By 1926 the company controlled transmission systems to 48 towns in western Missouri.

In 1940 Ralph was chairman of the board of Missouri Public Services, then a nine-million dollar corporation dealing with electricity, gas, and water. By the time of his death Ralph had built the utility into a 100-million dollar concern.

Ralph never forgot his rural beginnings and often served as a strong spokesman for the need of the public. At the age of 72 he even appeared at a farm to put up a new power line – not to oversee the job, but to climb the poles himself and put the line in place.

Ralph passed away on June 21, 1962, at Warrensburg, Missouri. The company he chaired is known today as Aquilla, a multi-national energy company worth billions of dollars with operations in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

Harry Gray – 1997 Inductee

The son of John F. and Wealthy (Heath) Gray, Harry Gray was born February 14, 1854, in Bellville, Richland County, Ohio. Later that year the Gray family moved to Iowa County, Iowa, where Harry attended the local schools and worked on the family farm. In 1877 he filed a claim for a homestead in Valley Township, Osborne County, Kansas, near the Vincent community. Harry then returned to Iowa and on March 28, 1878, he married Ida Jane Parker, at Ottumwa. The couple had four children, Rose, Earnest, Ralph, and Clarence.

In addition to farming Harry supplemented his income by teaching in the nearby rural one-room schools, first at Grantham School, District Number 63, and then at Rouner School, District Number 65, where he was paid thirty-five dollars a month for the six-month term. Harry helped to build both the Vincent Church and School. He also taught Sunday School for several years and also served as justice of the peace. At two hundred and twenty-five pounds, Harry was an imposing yet jovial man, with light-colored hair, sandy beard, and a ruddy complexion. He was popular among his fellow citizens and in 1891 he was elected Osborne County Clerk, a position he held for a two-year term. He stayed out of politics for another twenty years before being nominated as the Republican Party candidate for Kansas State Senator in 1912. Harry won the election and served for two terms before retiring from public life.

Soon after the Grays moved from their farm into the town of Luray, Kansas, where they spent their remaining years together. Harry passed away August 18, 1927, in Luray and he was buried in the Vincent Cemetery in Valley Township. Ida died November 25, 1932, at Waldo, Kansas, and she was buried with her husband in the Vincent Cemetery.

Bruce Alonzo Goff – 2001 Inductee

The Boston Avenue Methodist-Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Perhaps no Twentieth Century American architect was as fearless as Bruce Goff. His only parallel in the art world might be to outsider artists today. Architect legend Frank Lloyd Wright even advised him to avoid studying at an architecture school or risk losing what made him Bruce Goff in the first place. But though he remained classically unschooled, he became so proficient in his art that he was appointed head of the Architecture Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Goff’s father, Corliss Arthur Goff, was a jeweler from Cameron, Missouri. He started a jewelry and watch repair business with one of his brothers in Hays, Kansas, around 1900. He opened his own shop in 1903 in WaKeeney, Kansas, and married Maude Furbeck, a schoolteacher from the nearby town of Ellis. They later moved to Alton in Osborne County, Kansas, where their son, Bruce, was born on June 8, 1904.

Bruce Goff lived in seven different towns in Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma before arriving in Tulsa in 1914. He was self-taught and began his architectural career at the age of 12, when he became an apprentice for the firm of Rush, Endacott & Rush of Tulsa, Oklahoma. As Goff later recalled the episode, his father stopped the first stranger he met and asked for the name of the best architect in town. Given the answer Rush, Endacott & Rush, young Goff was marched into their office by his father, who produced samples of his son’s drawings. Goff had no idea then of what an architect was, but was told by A. W. Rush, the senior partner who met them at the door, that he could be one if he wanted. Early designs by Goff showed an artful comprehension of the Prairie idiom. Yet one of his only remaining houses from 1920 would have seemed equally suitable in 1960. His designs were being built by the time he was fifteen, and in 1929, when he was 25, he became a partner in the firm.

Barely in his mid-twenties, Goff designed the most spectacular modernist church to this day, Tulsa’s Boston Avenue Methodist-Episcopal Church on Boston Avenue. Now regarded as an Art Deco icon, it predates the Chrysler Building in New York and the Emerald City on celluloid. But he would soon tire of this stylistic language in favor of a more international modernism. Resembling Wright’s Usonian period, his houses from the mid thirties are spare and simple, but his drawings of them were elegant graphic statements that went beyond practical design necessity. To Bruce Goff, architecture was as much about drawing as it was about music, sculpture and dance. It also wasn’t about learned formulas that were applicable to any job at hand. Architecture was about now.

The Eugene Bavinger Home in Norman, Oklahoma, designed by Bruce Goff.

Goff went into the armed forces as a Seabee in World War II, allowing him to travel to California, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Because building materials were scarce, he created barracks, chapels and mess halls using simple military materiel. He seemed to find the purely utilitarian supplies liberating, fabricating Quonset huts into exercises in geometry beyond the usual bare bones of the structures.

Bruce Goff was one of the most creative American architects of the 20th Century. Over his career, he realized over hundred structures built in over fifteen states. In the 1950s with Goff as the head of the University Of Oklahoma School Of Architecture, the school was recognized for having one of the nation’s most innovative, avant-garde architectural practices. Goff’s daring spirit came by approaching any situation as a “continuous present,” meaning that history is past and the future hasn’t arrived, but that the “continuous present” is always with us.  As Goff would put it: “No matter how many buildings you have built, if you think of each one as a new experience…you find that you are always doing something strange and new and different. Sometimes you look at it and wonder, did that come out of me?”

Goff’s architectural style, known as “Imaginative Design” by his peers for lack of more expressive words, was considered to be at once both shocking and revolutionary. However, over the years his genius became universally recognized and he is now revered among American architects second only to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Surprisingly, most of Goff’s work centered in Oklahoma and Kansas along with more urban areas such as Chicago, Illinois. His clients, who included auto dealers and turkey farmers, always exulted in the uniqueness of their homes. In his lifetime he was named to Who’s Who in America and to Who’s Who in Architecture.

When Goff died in 1982 in Tyler, Texas at age 78, he had no immediate family to handle affairs. Instead, his ashes, along with his estate, came

The grave of Bruce Goff in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.

into the possession of wealthy art collector and Goff patron Joe Price, of Corona del Mar, California. A formal burial never occurred.

Finally, in 2000 Seattle architect Grant Gustafson designed a marker, secured funding for it and a burial plot, and brought together Goff aficionados to pay a tribute to the master as he was laid among other greats of 20th century architecture in the Graceland Cemetery at Chicago, Illinois.

In the years after Goff’s death his international reputation continued to grow. In 2008 German director Heinz Emigholz premiered at the Berlin Film Festival his new documentary entitled Goff in the Desert, which was a look at the work of Bruce Goff. The film showed 62 buildings – from small petrol stations to representative museums – designed by Goff. It was the first comprehensive filmic catalogue of nearly all Goff’s surviving creations.

“Bruce Goff is the great unknown of an original American form of architecture,” stated the Los Angeles Times in a review of the documentary. “His constructions and designs run contrary to the ideals of the by contrast well-known International Style movement. Bruce Goff’s work sparked legendary controversies during his lifetime. Nearly all his buildings stood like a shock in the landscape, paving the way for new, as yet unimaginable avenues in architecture.”

The Dr. Mitchell Home in Dodge City, Kansas, designed by Bruce Goff.

Then in June 2008 the prestigious Tate Modern Museum of Art in London, England, sponsored a weekend of Bruce Goff events celebrating the work of the visionary architect. The weekend included presentations and discussion by key figures in the international architectural world as well as the British premiere of Goff in the Desert.

The legacy of Bruce Goff continues to influence architects all over the world as we move forward into the 21st Century.

Goff’s office in 1962.
Nicol House, Overland Park, Kansas.
Interior of the Nicol House at night.
The 2008 DVD version of the documentary “Goff In The Desert.”
Bruce Goff later in life.