Sherwood Schwartz

Show Creator/Producer/Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his six-hour interview, Sherwood Schwartz (1916-2011) talks about his early years, and his first writing job for Bob Hope’s radio show. He recalls writing for various series including I Married Joan and My Favorite Martian, and being a staff writer for The Red Skelton Show, where he frequently clashed with Skelton over scripts. He discusses selling the idea of Gilligan’s Island to CBS, and the popularity and impact of that show. He chronicles creating The Brady Bunch, including casting the show, and his difficulties with Robert Reed, who played “Mike Brady.” He concludes by discussing the then-current state and future of television as a medium. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on September 17, 1997 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"'Mom said don't play ball in the house.' These things are just said once, but they reverberated through generations."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Sherwood Schwartz on casting The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on casting Jim Backus as "Thurston Howell III" on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on his issues with Robert Reed as "Mike Brady" on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on shooting the pilot of The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on the Gilligan's Island theme song
Sherwood Schwartz on the last episode of The Brady Bunch which Robert Reed did not appear in
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years growing up in New Jersey; his dream to be a doctor; and his decision to move to California 
On meeting Bob Hope through his brother; on making the choice not to become a doctor, and to be a writer instead

Chapter 2

On writing for Bob Hope's radio show; on serving in the U.S. Army and writing for Armed Forces Radio during World War II
On working as a writer on radio's Ozzie and Harriet; on writing for the Beulah radio show
On writing comedy for radio and first seeing television; on writing comedy for radio and first seeing television; On his first television writing job on I Married Joan

Chapter 3

On the use of the laugh track; on leaving I Married Joan to work on a play, and then the show's cancellation; on agreeing to work on The Red Skelton Show
On seeing evidence of the power of television when a Red Skelton Show comic sketch was taken seriously by certain viewers; on seeing evidence of the power of television when viewers sent telegrams calling for the rescue of the Gilligan's Island castaways
On Red Skelton's pantomiming abilities; on his difficulties working with Red Skelton

Chapter 4

On leaving The Red Skelton Show; and the Emmy he won for his work on the show
On his dealings with CBS; on his work on My Favorite Martian
On his approach to storytelling; on creating Gilligan's Island

Chapter 5

On selling the concept of Gilligan's Island to CBS
On the casting of the pilot of Gilligan's Island

Chapter 6

On casting Tina Louise as Ginger on Gilligan's Island; on the Gilligan's Island theme song;
On hearing of JFK's assassination while filming the Gilligan's Island pilot; on CBS's initial reaction to the Gilligan's Island pilot; on FCC Chair Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech and his naming of the Gilligan's Island boat the S.S. Minnow
On finally getting Gilligan's Island on the air at CBS; on initial reaction to Gilligan's Island and on having freelance writers write the show; on his day-to-day duties when Gilligan's Island was on the air

Chapter 7

On the sets of Gilligan's Island; on the directors of Gilligan's Island; on the critical and audience reaction to Gilligan's Island
On Richard Donner directing Gilligan's Island; on the cancellation of Gilligan's Island, and on its afterlife in syndication
On producing It's About Time; on network programming strategies at CBS by people like James T. Aubrey

Chapter 8

On the genesis of The Brady Bunch; on selling The Brady Bunch to ABC
On casting The Brady Bunch; on his issues with Robert Reed as "Mike Brady" on The Brady Bunch; on casting Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" on The Brady Bunch

Chapter 9

On Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" and Ann B. Davis as "Alice"; on Robert Reed's problems playing "Mike Brady"; on shooting the pilot of The Brady Bunch
On the challenges of shooting The Brady Bunch with six children in the cast; on his son Lloyd Schwartz's role on The Brady Bunch; on The Brady Bunch theme song, and on the Brady kids becoming a pop group
On the Saturday morning cartoon version of The Brady Bunch; on his favorite Brady Bunch episodes; on the end of The Brady Bunch

Chapter 10

On the last episode of The Brady Bunch which Robert Reed did not appear in; on the continuing popularity of The Brady Bunch after it was cancelled; on Barry Williams' book about The Brady Bunch, and on the cast dating each other
On the Gilligan's Island reunion specials; on Robert Reed returning to the Brady cast on A Very Brady Christmas; on The Brady Bunch feature films

Chapter 11

On his difficulties getting a Gilligan's Island feature made; on learning that Red Skelton had passed away the day of the interview; on the disappearance of "Tiger" on The Brady Bunch 
On why The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island have been ingrained in our culture; on the then-current state of television; on the then-future of television
On then-current projects; on how he'd like to be remembered; on people he's worked with in his career

Chapter 12

On Tina Louise's refusal to participate in subsequent Gilligan's Island shows and the impact of the series on the public; on various people he's worked with in his career; on his brother, son, and wife
Shows

Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet, The

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Sherwood Schwartz on working for Ozzie Nelson as a writer for the Ozzie and Harriet radio show

Beulah

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Sherwood Schwartz on working as a writer on the radio show, Beulah

Brady Brides, The

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Sherwood Schwartz on the Saturday morning cartoon version of The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on Robert Reed returning to the Brady cast on The Brady Brides

Brady Bunch Hour, The

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Sherwood Schwartz on the Brady Brunch feature film

Brady Bunch, The

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Sherwood Schwartz on the genesis of The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on selling The Brady Bunch to ABC
Sherwood Schwartz on casting The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on his issues with Robert Reed as "Mike Brady" on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on casting Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" and Ann B. Davis as "Alice"
Sherwood Schwartz on Robert Reed's problems playing "Mike Brady"
Sherwood Schwartz on shooting the pilot of The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on the challenges of shooting The Brady Bunch with six children in the cast
Sherwood Schwartz on his son Lloyd Schwartz's role on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on The Brady Bunch theme song, and on the Brady kids becoming a pop group
Sherwood Schwartz on public and critical reaction to The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on his favorite Brady Bunch episodes
Sherwood Schwartz on the end of The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on the last episode of The Brady Bunch which Robert Reed did not appear in
Sherwood Schwartz on the continuing popularity of The Brady Bunch after it was cancelled
Sherwood Schwartz on Barry Williams' book about The Brady Bunch, and on the cast dating each other
Sherwood Schwartz on his difficulties getting a Gilligan's Island feature made
Sherwood Schwartz on the fate of "Tiger" the dog on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on why The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island have been ingrained in our culture

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Sherwood Schwartz on winning an Emmy for writing on The Red Skelton Show

Gilligan's Island

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Sherwood Schwartz on seeing evidence of the power of television when viewers sent telegrams calling for the rescue of the Gilligan's Island castaways
Sherwood Schwartz on the concept of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on trying to sell the Gilligan's Island concept to CBS to James T. Aubrey
Sherwood Schwartz on the difficulty of selling the concept of Gilligan's Island to CBS executives
Sherwood Schwartz on the entities that have owned stakes in his series Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on casting Jim Backus as "Thurston Howell III" on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on his trouble casting "the Skipper" on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on offering Jerry Van Dyke the title role in Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on convincing Jim Backus to be on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on casting Alan Hale, Jr. as "the Skipper" on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on casting Tina Louise as Ginger on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on the Gilligan's Island theme song
Sherwood Schwartz on the shooting of the pilot of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on hearing of JFK's assassination while filming the Gilligan's Island pilot
Sherwood Schwartz on CBS's initial reaction to the Gilligan's Island pilot
Sherwood Schwartz on FCC Chair Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech and his naming of the Gilligan's Island boat the S.S. Minnow
Sherwood Schwartz on finally getting Gilligan's Island on the air at CBS
Sherwood Schwartz on initial reaction to Gilligan's Island and on having freelance writers write the show
Sherwood Schwartz on his day-to-day duties when Gilligan's Island was on the air
Sherwood Schwartz on the sets of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on the directors of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on the cancellation of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on the critical and audience reaction to Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on Richard Donner directing Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on Gilligan's Island going from black and white to color
Sherwood Schwartz on Gilligan's Island's life in syndication
Sherwood Schwartz on the Gilligan's Island reunion specials
Sherwood Schwartz on the yet-unproduced Gilligan's Island feature film
Sherwood Schwartz on why The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island have been ingrained in our culture
Sherwood Schwartz on Tina Louise's refusal to participate in subsequent Gilligan's Island shows and the impact of the series on the public

I Married Joan

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Sherwood Schwartz on his first TV writing job on I Married Joan starring Joan Davis
Sherwood Schwartz on leaving I Married Joan to work on a play, and then the show's cancellation

It's About Time

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Sherwood Schwartz on producing It's About Time

My Favorite Martian

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Sherwood Schwartz on trying to fix script issues on the first season of My Favorite Martian

Red Skelton Show, The

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Sherwood Schwartz on agreeing to work on The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on seeing evidence of the power of television when a The Red Skelton Show comic sketch was taken seriously by certain viewers
Sherwood Schwartz on Red Skelton's pantomiming abilities on The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on his difficulties working with Red Skelton on The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on leaving The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on winning an Emmy for writing on The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on CBS's efforts trying to get him to stay on The Red Skelton Show

Very Brady Christmas, A

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Sherwood Schwartz on A Very Brady Christmas
Topics

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Sherwood Schwartz on winning an Emmy for writing on The Red Skelton Show

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sherwood Schwartz on serving in the U.S. Army and writing for Armed Forces Radio during World War II
Sherwood Schwartz on hearing of JFK's assassination while filming the Gilligan's Island pilot

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Sherwood Schwartz on hearing of JFK's assassination while filming the Gilligan's Island pilot

Pop Culture

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Sherwood Schwartz on the Gilligan's Island theme song
Sherwood Schwartz on The Brady Bunch theme song, and on the Brady kids becoming a pop group

Studio and Network Management

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Sherwood Schwartz on FCC Chair Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech and his naming of the Gilligan's Island boat the S.S. Minnow
Sherwood Schwartz on network programming strategies at CBS

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Sherwood Schwartz on the Gilligan's Island theme song
Sherwood Schwartz on The Brady Bunch theme song, and on the Brady kids becoming a pop group

Television Industry

View Topic
Sherwood Schwartz on FCC Chair Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech and his naming of the Gilligan's Island boat the S.S. Minnow
Sherwood Schwartz on network programming strategies at CBS
Sherwood Schwartz on the then-current state of television
Sherwood Schwartz on the then-future of television

War

View Topic
Sherwood Schwartz on serving in the U.S. Army and writing for Armed Forces Radio during World War II

World War II

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Sherwood Schwartz on serving in the U.S. Army and writing for Armed Forces Radio during World War II
Professions

Writers

View Profession
Sherwood Schwartz on the difference between writing for radio and writing for television
Sherwood Schwartz on his approach to writing scripts for a series, and on working in the industry
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Sherwood Schwartz on how working on early comedy shows on radio prepared him to write comedy television shows
Sherwood Schwartz on his first TV writing job on I Married Joan starring Joan Davis
Sherwood Schwartz on writing for Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on trying to fix script issues on the first season of My Favorite Martian
Sherwood Schwartz on the concept of Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on creating Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on creating Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on creating Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on creating The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on the success of Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Sherwood Schwartz on writing for The Red Skelton Show
People

James T. Aubrey

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Sherwood Schwartz on trying to sell the Gilligan's Island concept to CBS to James T. Aubrey
Sherwood Schwartz on the difficulty of selling the concept of Gilligan's Island to James T. Aubrey, William S. Paley, and Frank Stanton
Sherwood Schwartz on network programming strategies at CBS by people like James T. Aubrey
Sherwood Schwartz on Jim Aubrey

Jim Backus

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Sherwood Schwartz on casting Jim Backus as "Thurston Howell III" on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on convincing Jim Backus to be on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on Jim Backus

Imogene Coca

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Sherwood Schwartz on Imogene Coca

Scatman Crothers

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Sherwood Schwartz on working as a writer on the radio show, Beulah co-starring Scatman Crothers

Dorothy Dandridge

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Sherwood Schwartz on working as a writer on the radio show, Beulah with Dorothy Dandridge

Joan Davis

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Sherwood Schwartz on his first TV writing job on I Married Joan starring Joan Davis
Sherwood Schwartz on leaving I Married Joan starring Joan Davis to work on a play, and then the show's cancellation

Ann B. Davis

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Sherwood Schwartz on Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" and Ann B. Davis as "Alice"

Richard Donner

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Sherwood Schwartz on the directors of Gilligan's Island including Richard Donner and John Rich

Jerry Van Dyke

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Sherwood Schwartz on offering Jerry Van Dyke the title role in Gilligan's Island

Alan Hale, Jr.

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Sherwood Schwartz on casting Alan Hale, Jr. as the Skipper on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on Alan Hale, Jr.

Florence Henderson

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Sherwood Schwartz on casting Florence Henderson on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on Florence Henderson as "Carol Brady" and Ann B. Davis as "Alice"

Bob Hope

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Sherwood Schwartz on his brother, Al Schwartz, writing for Bob Hope, and on being hired by Hope himself
Sherwood Schwartz on deciding not to become and doctor, and to write for Bob Hope
Sherwood Schwartz on writing for Bob Hope's radio show

Hal Kanter

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Sherwood Schwartz on Hal Kanter

Tina Louise

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Sherwood Schwartz on casting Tina Louise as Ginger on Gilligan's Island
Sherwood Schwartz on Tina Louise's refusal to participate in subsequent Gilligan's Island shows and the impact of the series on the public

Hattie McDaniel

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Sherwood Schwartz on working as a writer on the radio show, Beulah starring Hattie McDaniel

Newton N. Minow

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Sherwood Schwartz on FCC Chair Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech and his naming of the Gilligan's Island boat the S.S. Minnow

Ozzie Nelson

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Sherwood Schwartz on working for Ozzie Nelson as a writer for the Ozzie and Harriet radio show

William S. Paley

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Sherwood Schwartz on the difficulty of selling the concept of Gilligan's Island to James T. Aubrey, William S. Paley, and Frank Stanton
Sherwood Schwartz on the cancellation of Gilligan's Island by William S. Paley

Robert Reed

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Sherwood Schwartz on his issues with Robert Reed as "Mike Brady" on The Brady Bunch
Sherwood Schwartz on Robert Reed's problems playing "Mike Brady"
Sherwood Schwartz on the last episode of The Brady Bunch which Robert Reed did not appear in
Sherwood Schwartz on the last episode of The Brady Bunch which Robert Reed did not appear in
Sherwood Schwartz on Robert Reed returning to the Brady cast on A Very Brady Christmas

John Rich

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Sherwood Schwartz on the directors of Gilligan's Island including Richard Donner and John Rich

Mel Shavelson

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Sherwood Schwartz on Mel Shavelson

Fred Silverman

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Sherwood Schwartz on Fred Silverman and Brandon Tartikoff

Phil Silvers

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Sherwood Schwartz on the entities that have owned stakes in his series Gilligan's Island including Phil Silvers

Red Skelton

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Sherwood Schwartz on agreeing to work on The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on Red Skelton's pantomiming abilities on Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on his difficulties working with Red Skelton on Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on leaving The Red Skelton Show
Sherwood Schwartz on learning that Red Skelton had passed away the day of the interview

Frank Stanton

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Sherwood Schwartz on the difficulty of selling the concept of Gilligan's Island to James T. Aubrey, William S. Paley, and Frank Stanton

Brandon Tartikoff

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Sherwood Schwartz on Fred Silverman and Brandon Tartikoff

All Interviews

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