Producer/writer/director Garry Marshall was raised in the Bronx, educated at Northwestern in Chicago, and kinda broke into the entertainment business with an unlikely group—The United States Army. In an unlikely place—Korea.
“Then they sent me to Korea. They didn’t know how to run the radio stations. I was a private but they put me in charge of the six station network. So I ran six stations all throughout Korea as a private—everyone was [ranked] higher than me, but nobody quite knew how to do it. I liked that. I could make shows. You got a captive audience, there are men sitting there with rifles dozing off. So everyone did music, I was the first person who came and said ‘you need more than music fellows. You need humor.’ We started to do joke shows. It was great. I was living terrific, because I had a band—a 16 piece band playing the officers’ club, I had the six station network. That was best [for my] self-esteem those three years in Korea. I was like a celebrity. On a hill with men with guns, but they would say, ‘Heard the show last night’ and that made me think, ‘Maybe entertainment may be good for me.'”
Archive of American Television interview
When he got back to the states he worked in nightclubs in New York City as a drummer (including gigs with Lenny Bruce). In 1959 Marshall and another Army buddy (Fred Freeman) began as alternative writers for Jack Parr’s Tonight Show before becoming staff writers. It’s 56 years later and Marshall is still racking up credits.