Ron Friedman

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour interview, Ron Friedman talks about his early life and his first writing jobs, penning gags for the comedian Shelley Berman and for The Perry Como Show. He chronicles writing for The Jonathan Winters Show and for The Danny Kaye Show, the latter of which earned him an Emmy nomination in 1966. He recounts making the transition from writing variety to writing sitcoms with Bewitched and later Lucille Ball’s "Lucy in London," on which he partnered with the boisterous Pat McCormick. He recalls writing several ‘70s sitcoms, including The Odd Couple, Funny Face, All in the Family, and Barney Miller, and becoming story editor on Chico and the Man, where he expressed his concern for the well-being of star Freddie Prinze to the producers, who declined to get involved. Friedman speaks of yet another pivot in his career to writing dramas, including Starsky and Hutch, Fantasy Island, and The Fall Guy. He details his final genre change to creating and writing animated series, including the wildly popular and iconic G.I. Joe and The Transformers cartoons, as well as Marvel Action Universe and Bionic Six. He concludes with a discussion of his writing process, how he deals with writers block, his involvement with the Writers Guild, and advice to aspiring writers. John Dalton conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Writers Guild Foundation on on November 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA, and Adrienne Faillace conducted a short, follow-up segment on August 18, 2017 in North Hollywood, CA.

“I'm proudest of having had the capability to make a fine living, writing things that I often felt were a cut above. Also, being acknowledged as a writer of quality by other writers, actors, and directors of quality. Being regaled by peers that you respect, I really value.”

Highlights
Ron Friedman on killing "Optimus Prime" on The Transformers, and on how he came to create G.I. Joe
09:20
Ron Friedman on his writing partner, Pat McCormick with whom he wrote The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" and an unsold pilot for Stiller and Meara
05:25
Ron Friedman on writing for Starsky and Hutch
04:13
Ron Friedman on the chemistry between Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson on Chico and the Man, and on the death of Freddie Prinze
01:24
Ron Friedman on career achievements and regrets
04:23
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on radio he listened to growing up, and on his early memories of television; on his earliest writing jobs first for Shelley Berman and later for The Perry Como Show
12:35
On his early years writing gags for comedians like Vaughn Meader, and on writing for The Danny Kaye Show; on being nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on The Danny Kaye Show, and on leaving the show; on his writing partner, Pat McCormick with whom he wrote The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" and an unsold pilot for Stiller and Meara
16:16
On writing for The Jonathan Winters Show; on making the transition from writing for variety shows to writing sitcoms; on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
12:29
On writing for The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" starring Lucille Ball, The Partridge Family, and Funny Face; on writing for All in the Family and Barney Miller; on writing for Chico and the Man, as well as Big John, Little John, and Bridget Loves Bernie
16:32

Chapter 2

On making the transition from writing sitcoms to writing dramas; on writing for Starsky and Hutch; on working with Aaron Spelling
08:49
On writing for Fantasy Island and working with Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize on that show; on writing for The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors
10:18
On killing "Optimus Prime" on The Transformers, and on how he came to create G.I. Joe; on the character of "G.I. Joe" on G.I. Joe; on the conflict between "G.I. Joe" and "Cobra" on G.I. Joe, and on the politics of the show
16:32
On the groundbreaking female characters of G.I. Joe; on The Transformers and G.I. Joe toys
04:51
On working with Stan Lee on Marvel Action Universe; on creating Bionic Six; on the legacy of The Transformers and G.I. Joe
11:35

Chapter 3

On his acting roles; on his writing process and on dealing with writers block; on how his process for writing drama differs from his process for writing comedy
08:08
On joining the Writers Guild, and on how it benefits writers; on teaching writing, and on advice to aspiring television writers; on career achievements and regrets, and on how he'd like to be remembered
19:55

Chapter 4

On what it takes to succeed in the business and his gratitude for those who helped him along the way, particularly his wife and children
03:36
Shows

All in the Family

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Ron Friedman on writing for All in the Family and working with Norman Lear
00:55

Barney Miller

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Ron Friedman on acting as a troubleshooter for shows, including A Year at the Top, and on writing for Barney Miller
02:23

Bewitched

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

Big John, Little John

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bridget Loves Bernie and Big John, Little John
02:04

Bionic Six

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Ron Friedman on creating Bionic Six
03:00

Bridget Loves Bernie

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bridget Loves Bernie and Big John, Little John
02:04

Chico and the Man

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Ron Friedman on writing for Chico and the Man starring Jack Albertson and Freddie Prinze, and on Prinze's troubles during production
02:23
Ron Friedman on Chico and the Man creator James Komack
00:51
Ron Friedman on the chemistry between Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson on Chico and the Man, and on the death of Freddie Prinze
01:24
Ron Friedman on the legacy of Chico and the Man
01:30

Danny Kaye Show, The

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Danny Kaye Show
06:24
Ron Friedman on being nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on The Danny Kaye Show, and on leaving the show
01:24

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Ron Friedman on being nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on The Danny Kaye Show, and on leaving the show
01:24

Fall Guy, The

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors
03:07

Fantasy Island

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Ron Friedman on writing for Fantasy Island, and working with Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize on that show
07:10

Funny Face

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Ron Friedman on writing for the series Funny Face starring Sandy Duncan
02:16

G.I. Joe

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Ron Friedman on killing "Optimus Prime" on The Transformers, and on how he came to create G.I. Joe
09:20
Ron Friedman on the character of "G.I. Joe" on G.I. Joe
02:08
Ron Friedman on the conflict between "G.I. Joe" and "Cobra" on G.I. Joe, and on the politics of the show
05:03
Ron Friedman on the groundbreaking female characters of G.I. Joe
01:26
Ron Friedman on the feature film versions of G.I. Joe and The Transformers
02:15
Ron Friedman on The Transformers and G.I. Joe toys
01:10
Ron Friedman on the legacy of The Transformers and G.I. Joe
02:46

Jonathan Winters Show, The (1967-69)

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Jonathan Winters Show
02:33

Lucy Show, The

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Ron Friedman on his writing partner, Pat McCormick with whom he wrote The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" and an unsold pilot for Stiller and Meara
05:25
Ron Friedman on The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" starring Lucille Ball
01:52

Marvel Action Universe

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Ron Friedman on working with Stan Lee on Marvel Action Universe
05:49

Odd Couple, The (1970-75)

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

Partridge Family, The

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Partridge Family
00:31

Starsky and Hutch

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Ron Friedman on writing for Starsky and Hutch
04:13
Ron Friedman on working with Paul Michael Glaser on Starsky and Hutch, and on the popularity of the show
01:21

Transformers, The

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Ron Friedman on killing "Optimus Prime" on The Transformers, and on how he came to create G.I. Joe
09:20
Ron Friedman on the feature film versions of G.I. Joe and The Transformers
02:15
Ron Friedman on The Transformers and G.I. Joe toys
01:10
Ron Friedman on the legacy of The Transformers and G.I. Joe
02:46
Topics

Advice

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Ron Friedman on advice to aspiring writers, and on his children who are writers
02:24

Diversity in Television

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Ron Friedman on the groundbreaking female characters of G.I. Joe
01:26

Emmy Awards

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Ron Friedman on being nominated for an Emmy Award for his work writing for The Danny Kaye Show, and on leaving the show
01:24

Television Industry

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Ron Friedman on how the industry has changed since he started
04:03
Ron Friedman on advice to aspiring writers, and on his children who are writers
02:24

Women

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Ron Friedman on the groundbreaking female characters of G.I. Joe
01:26
Professions

Writers

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Ron Friedman on making the transition from writing for variety shows to writing sitcoms
04:49
Ron Friedman on acting as a troubleshooter for shows, including A Year at the Top, and on writing for Barney Miller
02:23
Ron Friedman on making the transition from writing sitcoms to writing dramas
01:40
Ron Friedman on his writing process
03:22
Ron Friedman on dealing with writers block
02:00
Ron Friedman on how his process for writing drama differs from his process for writing comedy
01:29
Ron Friedman on joining the Writers Guild, and on how it benefits writers
03:57
Ron Friedman on what he enjoys about teaching writing
03:24
Ron Friedman on advice to aspiring writers, and on his children who are writers
02:24
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Fall Guy
03:07

Animation

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Ron Friedman on creating and writing G.I. Joe and The Transformers
21:24
Ron Friedman on writing for Marvel Action Universe and on creating Bionic Six
08:49
Ron Friedman on the legacy of his animation work, specifically G.I. Joe and The Transformers
02:51

Comedy Series

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple
05:03
Ron Friedman on The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London"
01:52
Ron Friedman on writing for the series Funny Face
02:16
Ron Friedman on writing for All in the Family and working with Norman Lear
00:55
Ron Friedman on acting as a troubleshooter for shows, including A Year at the Top, and on writing for Barney Miller
02:23
Ron Friedman on writing for Chico and the Man
06:14

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Ron Friedman on writing for Starsky and Hutch
07:10

Drama Series

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Ron Friedman on writing for Fantasy Island
07:10

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Danny Kaye Show
07:49
Ron Friedman on writing for The Jonathan Winters Show
02:33
People

Jack Albertson

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Ron Friedman on writing for Chico and the Man starring Jack Albertson and Freddie Prinze, and on Prinze's troubles during production
02:23
Ron Friedman on the chemistry between Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson on Chico and the Man, and on the death of Freddie Prinze
01:24

William Asher

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

Lucille Ball

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Ron Friedman on The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" starring Lucille Ball
01:52

Shelley Berman

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Ron Friedman on his earliest writing jobs, first for Shelley Berman and later for The Perry Como Show
02:45

Sandy Duncan

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Ron Friedman on writing for the series Funny Face starring Sandy Duncan
02:16

Herb Edelman

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bridget Loves Bernie and Big John, Little John starring Herb Edelman
02:05

Paul Michael Glaser

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Ron Friedman on working with Paul Michael Glaser on Starsky and Hutch, and on the popularity of the show
01:21

Danny Kaye

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Danny Kaye Show, and on working with guest stars on the show including Vincent Price
06:24

Jack Klugman

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

James Komack

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Ron Friedman on Chico and the Man creator James Komack
00:51

Norman Lear

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Ron Friedman on writing for All in the Family and working with Norman Lear
00:54

Stan Lee

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Ron Friedman on working with Stan Lee on Marvel Action Universe
05:49

Lee Majors

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors
03:05

Garry Marshall

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

Pat McCormick

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Ron Friedman on his writing partner, Pat McCormick, with whom he wrote The Lucy Show special "Lucy in London" and an unsold pilot for Stiller and Meara
05:25

Ricardo Montalban

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Ron Friedman on writing for Fantasy Island, and working with Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize on that show
07:10

Vincent Price

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Danny Kaye Show, and on working with guest stars on the show including Vincent Price
06:24

Freddie Prinze

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Ron Friedman on writing for Chico and the Man starring Jack Albertson and Freddie Prinze, and on Prinze's troubles during production
02:23
Ron Friedman on the chemistry between Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson on Chico and the Man, and on the death of Freddie Prinze
01:24

Tony Randall

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Ron Friedman on writing for Bewitched and The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and working with producers William Asher and Garry Marshall
05:03

Aaron Spelling

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Ron Friedman on working with Aaron Spelling
01:36

Herve Villechaize

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Ron Friedman on writing for Fantasy Island, and working with Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize on that show
07:10

Jonathan Winters

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Ron Friedman on writing for The Jonathan Winters Show
02:33

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