When TV Was Magic

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary Just last week renowned TV script writer and producer Sherwood Schwartz passed away at age 94. He was the creator of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch.” These two shows have become TV classics and have been watched by tens of millions of people all over the world and have been translated into 130 languages. When he wrote these shows, there were only three TV channels in the United States, and certainly no personal computers or anything that today we call “high tech.”

Yet “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” were just two of the incredible shows that were produced in that time. They ranged from comedies to dramas to science fiction and soap operas. I could not even begin to name all of the shows that were on the air during the 1960’s and early 1970’s that so many American families watched. But they had three things in common that seem to be lacking today. They had originality. The shows we know of today as the “classics,” had no prior TV series that were like them. There was nothing like “Gilligan’s Island” even in the 1950’s, known as the “golden age of TV.”

Another thing these had in common were truly great script writers. Sherwood Schwartz was far from being the only one. Two others that I can name, Irwin Allen and Gene Roddenberry, are but two examples of the great script writers who changed American television forever and gave us shows that have not only been enjoyed from the moment they were first broadcast but have been popular with at least two more generations in syndication since.

And just equally important are the actors who made these shows just incredible. Bob Denver, who played the title role in “Gilligan’s Island,” was quite simply a comedic genius. Most the actors who played in many of these TV shows had never had played in lead roles before, but these actors are now household names—-actors like Bob Denver, Bob Crane, William Shatner, Elizabeth Montgomery, and the list is almost endless. If American TV in the 1950’s was considered the “golden age” of American TV, then the American television in the 1960’s was virtually platinum. And one of those TV pioneers that made American TV truly magical was Sherwood Schwartz. From all of us at Lawndale News, we truly wish to thank you Sherwood Schwartz, and you and your creative genius will be really missed!

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