Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RIP: Irving Brecher

Irv Brecher, the comedy writer, died on Monday at the age of 94.
His most notable work included the vaudeville sketches he penned for Milton Berle and comedies he wrote for the Marx Brothers - including a solo credit on 1940 film Go West.

Early in his career, Brecher was an uncredited script doctor on The Wizard of Oz, leading Groucho Marx to call him The Wicked Wit of the West - the title of his autobiography, which is scheduled to hit shelves in January.

His film credits came to include Shadow of the Thin Man in 1941, 1943's Du Barry Was a Lady, starring Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly and Red Skelton, Yolanda and the Thief in 1945, starring Fred Astaire, and 1963 classic Bye Bye Birdie.

Brecher was also nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland.

In addition to the silver screen, Brecher also turned his talents to radio, creating long-running series The Life of Riley - later adapted into a feature film and TV series in 1949.
Here's a link to the obit at the Jewish Journal.

The following YouTube video was released during the writer's strike of last year.

Some blurbs on the upcoming autobiography:
Advance Praise
“Like Tuesdays With Morrie meets Krapp's Last Tape!”

— Don Foster, Emmy-nominated exec producer/writer of Two-and-a-Half Men

“Irving Brecher was hilarious in 1938 and he’s hilarious in 2008. He’s also a true gentleman who values friendship and learning. Salute!”

— Scott Eyman, author of Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer

“The only good thing about making At The Circus was beginning my friendship with Irving Brecher.”

-Groucho Marx

“The dictionary defines wit as the ability to perceive and express in ingeniously humorous manner the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things.

My own definition is infinitely simpler.

I define wit as Irving Brecher”

—Larry Gelbart

“One of the three fastest (along with George S. Kaufman and Oscar Levant), with the one-line impromptus”

—S.J. Perelman

“Irv of the incomparable wit!”

—Ben Hecht

"Irving Brecher never did a damn thing for me. He already committed his crime, by putting Milton in the business."

—Red Buttons

If you're interested in real "groundbreaking television" look no further than Irv Brecher (creator of the first sitcom.etc..) — a real pioneer, funnyman, and historical treasure.

Thank God for this book—at 94, Irv is truly the last of the Joke-hicans.

—Liz Tuccillo, writer for Sex and the City and co-author of "He's Just Not That Into You"

“I don’t like to quote myself but unfortunately everybody I know who should be quoting me is dead.”

—Irving Brecher

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