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Hollywood comedy writer Hal Kanter dies at 92

Hollywood comedy writer Hal Kanter dies at 92

November 9th, 2011 in News

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hal Kanter, an Emmy-winning comedy master who wrote for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, directed Elvis Presley in "Loving You" and created Diahann Carroll's ground-breaking TV sitcom, has died. He was 92.

Kanter died Sunday, according to the Writers Guild of America, where he had been a member since 1950 and served on the union's board of directors. Daughter Donna Kanter told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/vXH8Ck) he died from pneumonia complications at Encino Hospital.

His three Emmys included back-to-back wins for 1991-92 as a writer for the Academy Awards, a ceremony on which he contributed material on 32 separate shows over the decades.

Kanter also won an Emmy in 1955 for "The George Gobel Show," and he received four other nominations, including one as executive producer of "All in the Family" in 1976 and another for outstanding comedy series for Carroll's "Julia" in 1969.

"If there was a funnier writer than Hal I never knew him," said "All in the Family" creator Norman Lear. "The irony is laughing at him added time to my life."

"Julia" was a television landmark, depicting a black professional woman as a series lead in an era that generally cast black actors as domestic help.

"If I could do a television show that depicted blacks as people and not as black people, it might do some good," Kanter recalled in a 2002 interview.

Kanter also wrote the 1952 Hope and Crosby adventure "Road to Bali," and his 1950s big-screen work also included Hope's comedies "My Favorite Spy" and "Casanova's Big Night." In 1976, Hope hired Kanter as his head writer.

Born Dec. 18, 1918, in Savannah, Ga., Kanter broke into show business as a gag writer, contributing material to Crosby's radio show, "The Danny Kaye Show" and other radio programs before moving into television as a writer on "The Ed Wynn Show" in 1949.

Kanter wrote for another big-screen comedy team, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, on 1953's "Money from Home" and 1955's "Artists and Models." He ventured into drama with the 1954 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo."

As he moved into directing in the late 1950s, Kanter initially was reluctant to take on one of the era's biggest stars.

"Somebody had asked me if I wanted to do a picture with Elvis Presley. I said, "Oh God, no. Why?"' Kanter recalled in 2002. "And my three daughters said, "Daddy, Elvis Presley!' And I realized I was in big trouble if I didn't do that picture."

Kanter wound up directing and co-writing 1957's "Loving You," which featured the title track and Presley's hit "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear." He later wrote another Presley musical romance, 1961's "Blue Hawaii."

Among Kanter's other credits were Marilyn Monroe's "Let's Make Love" (1960), Bette Davis' "Pocketful of Miracles" (1961) and Doris Day and James Garner's "Move Over, Darling" (1963).

In 1999, Kanter published an autobiography, "So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business."

Kanter is survived by his wife of 70 years, writer Doris Kanter; his daughters Donna Kanter, Lisa Kanter Shafer, and Abigail Kanter Jaye; his sister, Saralea Emerson; and a granddaughter.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com