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Posts Tagged ‘Madelyn Pugh Davis’

“‘Girl-writer’ is honestly what they called me. This was because comedy shows for people like Bob Hope and Jack Benny were usually written by groups of men who were known as ‘The Boys.’”
Madelyn Pugh Davis

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Madelyn Pugh Davis was kind of the Diablo Cody in the early days of sitcom television, back when there weren’t many female writers. She majored in journalism at Indiana University and got her start in radio before eventually moving to Los Angeles and becoming a staff writer for the entire run of  I Love Lucy. 

”I had come to Hollywood from Indiana not too long before [meeting Lucille Ball], and she was the first real celebrity I had ever met besides Hoagy Carmichael, the Hoosier composer of “Star Dust,” and everyone in Indiana had met Hoagy or claimed they had. Bob [Carroll] and I had written lots of radio scripts as staff writers at CBS for Pacific Network, but this was the first full network script we had ever written. We rehearsed all day and did the show in front of a studio audience in the late afternoon. The two of us sat upstairs in the glassed-in clients’ booth during the show, and I hate to admit it, bit we counted the laughs—ninety two. This was it! We were writing a network show for Lucille Ball, and we got ninety-two laughs. We were on our way to The Big Time.”
Madelyn Pugh Davis
Laughing with Lucy: My Life with America’s Leading Lady of Comedy
(On working on the radio program My Favorite Husband )

“For four of its six seasons, ‘I Love Lucy’ was the most popular show on television; it never ranked lower than third in any of those seasons. It received two Emmy Awards for best situation comedy and two nominations for best comedy writing.”
Dennis Hevesi
New York Times (April 21, 2011)
Madelyn Pugh Davis, Writer for ‘I Love Lucy,’ Dies at 90

It’s estimated that over their career that Davis and her writing partner Bob Carroll write a total of 400 radio shows and 500 TV shows. In 1992, they were given the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award from the WGA.

They weren’t known as joke writers but specialized more in visual comedy. Watch this video of classic I Love Lucy visual comedy moments.

Ken Levine points out on his History of Sitcoms podcast that through the entire run of I Love Lucy (181 episodes) that they only used five writers. And only two of those writers are credited on every episode— Bob Carroll Jr and Madelyn Pugh Davis.

Not bad for a boy writer from Florida and girl writer from Indiana.

Related link: Interview with Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. 

Scott W. Smith

 

 

 

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