US & Canada

Brady Bunch writer Sherwood Schwartz dies

The Brady Bunch cast in a still from the television show
Image caption The Brady Bunch was written without guile or irony, in contrast to today's comedy shows

Sherwood Schwartz, creator of popular US television shows Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, has died, aged 94.

The two shows, while panned by critics, are seen as an iconic and enduring part of American popular culture.

Gilligan's Island, which ran from 1964 to 1967, was about seven travellers marooned on a Pacific island.

The Brady Bunch (1969 to 1974) was about a clean-cut, attractive family formed by the marriage of a widow and widower and their six children.

'Sociological change'

Analysts say the shows were hit in part because they presented a wholesome image of America during a time of social upheaval.

Both programmes have endured on countless television repeats, influencing generations of children in America and beyond who never saw them on the original run.

Mr Schwartz conceived of the idea for The Brady Bunch in 1965 after reading that one-third of American households at the time included a 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," Mr Schwartz told the Los Angeles Times in 2000.

Image caption Mr Schwartz, shown with Brady Bunch actress Florence Henderson, was born in New Jersey in 1916

He later said the show resonated with Americans because "it dealt with real emotional problems: the difficulty of being the middle girl; a boy being too short when he wants to be taller; going to the prom with zits on your face".

Career switch

Mr Schwartz also said he planned Gilligan's Island, about a sea captain and his assistant, a science professor, a farm girl, a buxom movie star and a posh couple, as a social statement.

"It's one world, and we all have to learn to live with each other," he said in 1996.

Mr Schwartz was born in 1916 in New Jersey and grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

After earning a degree in biological science, he began writing jokes for comedian Bob Hope, and eventually turned to television.

"I was faced with a major decision - writing comedy or starving to death while I cured those diseases. I made a quick career change," he said in 2008, when he was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

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