Sherwood Schwartz, creator of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, died early this morning, his great niece tells the Associated Press. USA Today says the veteran producer "died of natural causes in his sleep surrounded by his family." He was 94.
As The Washington Post points out, Gilligan's Island has achieved "a sort of immortality" in syndication despite only running on CBS for three seasons for 1964 to 1967. The Brady Bunch ran five seasons on ABC from 1969 to 1974, but found new life in reruns and spawned numerous reunion films.
Schwartz began his career writing jokes for Bob Hope and Ozzie Nelson on the radio. Screenwriter Ben Schwartz recalled Schwartz telling him during an interview that when his jokes weren't up to snuff on The Bob Hope Show a fellow writer "folded them into a paper airplane and sent them out the window." In addition to creating Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, Schwartz also composed their theme songs. NPR is characterizing them "undeniably hummable" this afternoon which is true, but they were also the background noise to countless American childhoods, including our own.
On Twitter, Vulture blogger Joe Adalian brought our attention to Schwartz's fabulous six hour interview with the Archive of American Television, conducted in 1997. We're going to watch the entire interview later, but here are the segments that jumped out at us immediately.