Bob Schiller

Writer / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Bob Schiller (1918-2017) speaks for half-an-hour solo, and for three-hours alongside long-time writing/producing partner Bob Weiskopf. Each explains how they got their respective starts in the entertainment industry, and discuss radio shows and performers with which they were associated in their early careers, including "Duffy's Tavern" (Schiller) and "The Fred Allen Show" (Weiskopf). Together, they remember how they formed their partnership, and recall their years as staff writers on I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. They talk of their collaborations with Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh Davis, and Bob Carroll, as well as with the stars of I Love Lucy. They look back on the writing process for the show, and on the events that took place behind the scenes each week. They outline their work on The Lucy Show, The Red Skelton Show, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Flip Wilson Show. Schiller and Weiskopf then detail their collaboration with producer Norman Lear on Maude, and comment on the balance that was often required of them as writer/producers to find humor in dramatic situations. They chronicle their work on other Lear shows including All in the Family, Archie Bunker's Place, Sanford and Son, and Checking In. Finally, they discuss their most recent work on various television projects and pilots, and speak of being honored with the Writers Guild of America's Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Achievement in 1988. Karen Herman conducted the interview on April 4, 2000 in Santa Monica, CA.

"Jess [Oppenheimer] said, 'come on down to the run-through. When you see what Lucy does with your material, she'll make you think you're a writer.'"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Bob Schiller on writing for The Red Buttons Show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on classic episodes they wrote on I Love Lucy, including "Lucy's Italian Movie" with the famous stomping of the grapes scene
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters and the actors who portrayed them on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing the All in the Family episode "Edith's 50th Birthday" (in which there's an attempted rape on "Edith")
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on "growing up with words" and a lot of laughter in the house
On his early interest in humor and his education at UCLA; on his early work in advertising
On his service in the Army during World War II; on his first memories of television
On his early work writing for radio; how he got hired by Ed Gardner to write for Duffy's Tavern
On working for Mel Blanc; on writing for the radio version of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; on writing for radio version of The Jimmy Durante Show
On transitioning from radio to television
On working with Ed Wynn on Four Star Revue; on working with Garry Moore and writing for The Red Buttons Show

Chapter 2

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH BOB WEISKOPF: on how they became writing partners
On writing for Make Room for Daddy, That's My Boy, My Favorite Husband, and The Bob Cummings Show
On writing for It's Always Jan with Janis Paige
On how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season, the most popular show on TV at the time; on head writers Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis
On working with Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley
On the I Love Lucy writing process

Chapter 3

On the writing process on I Love Lucy and a typical workweek
On the rehearsal process and lack of ad-libbing on I Love Lucy
On the below-the-line crew on I Love Lucy; on I Love Lucy' s guest stars
On some of the storylines on I Love Lucy
On classic episodes they wrote on I Love Lucy, including the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode

Chapter 4

On the last half-hour episode of I Love Lucy; on their favorite episodes of the show
On the "classic" title given to I Love Lucy and how much they got paid; on Desilu studios and the transition to the hour-long Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
On the personal relationship between Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; on how the departure of Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis affected them
On the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams
On writing the pilot for The Ann Sothern Show, writing for Pete and Gladys, and for You're Only Young Twice
On The Lucy Show

Chapter 5

On their favorite episodes of The Lucy Show; on leaving the show
On writing for The Red Skelton Show; on Red's reputation among writers
On writing for Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, and Flip Wilson
On writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear

Chapter 6

On the writing process for and memorable episodes of Maude
On writing the pilot for All's Fair
On writing for All in the Family; on the transition from All in the Family to Archie Bunker's Place

Chapter 7

On Archie Bunker's Place and comparisons to another bar-themed show, Duffy's Tavern; on Carroll O'Connor's influence on Archie Bunker's Place
On writing for Archie Bunker's Place; on their play "So Long, Stanley" getting produced; on writing the pilot of But Mother!
On shows they wrote for in the 1980s: Side by Side, He's the Mayo r, and The Boys; on winning the WGA's Paddy Chayefsky Award for Television Achievement
On deciding to retire; on their recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Chapter 8

On writing for television versus writing for radio; on their successful writing partnership
On advice to aspiring writers and producers; on how they'd like to be remembered and their career highlights; on their favorite stories about each other
B-roll photos from their days working at I Love Lucy, The Red Skelton Show, and Maude
Shows

Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet, The

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Bob Schiller on briefly writing for the radio version of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

All in the Family

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for All in the Family
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on specific episodes they wrote for All in the Family: "Cousin Liz", and "Edith's 50th Birthday" (in which there's an attempted rape on "Edith")
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Edith's Crisis of Faith", and "The Stivics Go West" episodes of All in the Family
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how All in the Family holds up over the years

All's Fair

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing the pilot for All's Fair

Ann Sothern Show, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing the pilot for The Ann Sothern Show

Archie Bunker's Place

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the transition from All in the Family to Archie Bunker's Place and the death of "Edith Bunker"
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Archie Bunker's Place and comparisons to another bar-themed show, Duffy's Tavern
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Carroll O'Connor's influence on Archie Bunker's Place; on the writing process on the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Archie Bunker's Place

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Carol Burnett Show

Checking In

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing an episode of Checking In

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing as a team for Make Room for Daddy

December Bride

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Bob Schiller on writing for the radio version of December Bride

Duffy's Tavern

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Bob Schiller on writing for the radio show Duffy's Tavern and working with Ed Gardner
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Archie Bunker's Place and comparisons to another bar-themed show, Duffy's Tavern

Flip Wilson Show, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Flip Wilson Show

Good Guys, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing and producing for The Good Guys

I Love Lucy

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on becoming replacement writers on I Love Lucy - the most popular show on TV at the time
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their style of writing for I Love Lucy - "backwards plotting"
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on working with Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their I Love Lucy scripts, Lucille Ball's performances, and working with Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on I Love Lucy and why Jess Oppenheimer left the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the I Love Lucy writing process
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the rehearsal process on I Love Lucy and how little rewriting there was on the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on below-the-line crew on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on working with CBS and sponsors on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on staff members on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on guest stars on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on some of the storylines on I Love Lucy - aging "Little Ricky" and moving the "Rircardos" to the country
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on classic episodes they wrote on I Love Lucy, including "Lucy's Italian Movie" with the famous stomping of the grapes scene
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on classic episodes they wrote on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of I Love Lucy and their favorite episodes
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "classic" title given to I Love Lucy, and how much they got paid
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a photo of the writing staff of I Love Lucy

It's Always Jan

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for It's Always Jan with Janis Paige

Jimmy Durante Show, The

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Bob Schiller on writing for the radio version of The Jimmy Durante Show

Lucy Show, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Lucy Show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their favorite episodes of The Lucy Show

Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their favorite episodes of the The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour; on how Danny Thomas did his best work when angry
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the transition to the hour-long Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how the departure of Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour affected them
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams

Maude

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters and the actors who portrayed them on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writers on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on Maude and Norman Lear's involvement with the writing
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on being on set during the tapings of Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on topics for scripts on Maude and the two-part abortion episode
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Norman Lear's contributions to storylines on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on network interference on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" episode of Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Bea Arthur and other cast members not always sticking to scripts on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on racial issues on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "The Face Lift" and other episodes of Maude; on why they left the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" and "Florida's Problem" episodes of Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on photos from their days working on Maude

My Favorite Husband

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for My Favorite Husband

Pete and Gladys

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Pete and Gladys

Red Buttons Show, The

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Bob Schiller on writing for The Red Buttons Show

Red Skelton Show, The

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Red Skelton Show; on Red's reputation among writers
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on memorable characters and pantomimes on The Red Skelton Show

That's My Boy!

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for That's My Boy!
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on network interference on Maude

Characters & Catchphrases

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters on Maude

Classic TV series episodes

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams

Comedy

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams

Diversity in Television

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on racial issues on Maude

Hollywood Blacklist

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Memorable Moments on Television

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the famous two-part abortion episode on Maude

Minorities

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on racial issues on Maude

Pop Culture

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters on Maude

Television Industry

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on flack for portraying a divorced woman (Vivian Vance's character) on The Lucy Show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on network interference on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

War

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Bob Schiller on his five-year service during World War II

We Considered

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the famous two-part abortion episode on Maude

We Laughed

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Lucy Does the Tango" episode of I Love Lucy

World War II

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Bob Schiller on his five-year service during World War II
Professions

Producers

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on advice to aspiring producers

Writers

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on plotting scenes backwards on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on I Love Lucy and a typical workweek
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing Lucille Ball's physical comedy into the scripts of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on Maude and Norman Lear's involvement with the writing
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on winning the WGA's Paddy Chayefsky Award for Television Achievement
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their writing style and discipline, on why they've had a successful writing partnership
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on advice to aspiring comedy writers
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on why their writing has held up over the years
Genres

Comedy Series

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season; on the writing process and working with the cast
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on I Love Lucy and memorable episodes they wrote
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the hour-long Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Lucy Show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Red Skelton Show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process for and memorable episodes of Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for All in the Family; on the transition from All in the Family to Archie Bunker's Place
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Archie Bunker's Place
People

Bud Abbott

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Bob Schiller on working for Abbott & Costello's radio show

Edie Adams

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams

Desi Arnaz

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lucille Ball's working style on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on working with Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Desi Arnaz's management style on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Desi Arnaz's management style
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Desi Arnaz's business acumen
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's personal lives affected production on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Desi Arnaz helping to resolve a writer's strike
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a power play by Desi Arnaz
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture with Desi Arnaz

Beatrice Arthur

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on working with Bea Arthur on Maude
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Bea Arthur and other cast members not always sticking to scripts on Maude

William Asher

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the longest laugh on I Love Lucy and how director William Asher didn't think the premise would work

Lucille Ball

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on meeting and working with Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their I Love Lucy scripts and Lucille Ball's performances
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lucille Ball's working style on I Love Lucy and how she showed appreciation for the show's writers
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing Lucille Ball's physical comedy into the scripts of I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's personal lives affected production on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance's relationship
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lucille Ball's legacy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture with Lucille Ball
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture of Lucille Ball
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture of Lucille Ball
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture of Lucille Ball and Milton Berle with Bob Schiller

Milton Berle

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture of Lucille Ball and Milton Berle with Bob Schiller

Mel Blanc

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Bob Schiller on working with Mel Blanc

Gary Burghoff

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing a pilot for Gary Burghoff

Bob Carroll, Jr.

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how the departure of Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour affected them

Lou Costello

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Bob Schiller on working for Abbott & Costello's radio show

Madelyn Pugh Davis

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how they came to write for I Love Lucy in its fourth season
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. - writers on I Love Lucy - and their contributions to the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how the departure of Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour affected them

Phyllis Diller

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Phyllis Diller

Jimmy Durante

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Bob Schiller on working with Jimmy Durante

William Frawley

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Vivian Vance and William Frawley on I Love Lucy

Larry Gelbart

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Bob Schiller on working with Larry Gelbart writing for The Red Buttons Show

Susan Harris

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the famous two-part abortion episode on Maude

Ernie Kovacs

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Meets the Mustache" with Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams

Norman Lear

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on Maude and Norman Lear's involvement with the writing
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the famous two-part abortion episode on Maude; on Norman Lear's contributions to storylines

Lorne Michaels

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lorne Michaels first writing job in the U.S. - for Phyllis Diller

Garry Moore

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Bob Schiller on working with Garry Moore

Gary Morton

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the involvement of Lucille Ball's then-current husband, Gary Morton, on The Lucy Show

Carroll O'Connor

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the transition from All in the Family to Archie Bunker's Place and the death of "Edith Bunker"
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Carroll O'Connor's influence on Archie Bunker's Place

Jess Oppenheimer

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on I Love Lucy and Jess Oppenheimer leaving the show
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Jess Oppenheimer wanting them to write for I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the I Love Lucy writing process and the management style of Jess Oppenheimer as a producer

Esther Rolle

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Esther Rolle's roll on Maude and why she left the show

Martha Scott

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing the pilot for You're Only Young Twice

Red Skelton

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for The Red Skelton Show; on Red's reputation among writers
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on a picture of Red Skelton with Bob Schiller

Ann Sothern

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing a TV show for Ann Sothern

Jean Stapleton

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on working with Jean Stapleton on All in the Family

Ben Stein

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on hiring Ben Stein as an adviser for All's Fair

Keith Thibodeaux

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on aging "Little Ricky" on I Love Lucy

Danny Thomas

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on their favorite episodes of the The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour; on how Danny Thomas did his best work when angry

Vivian Vance

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Vivian Vance and William Frawley on I Love Lucy
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance's relationship

Orson Welles

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on how Orson Welles blew a Shakespeare line on I Love Lucy

Flip Wilson

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Flip Wilson

Ed Wynn

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Bob Schiller on working with Ed Wynn

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