Last One Down

March 4, 2009

Horton Foote is dead at 92.

He was the last of the important writers nurtured by producer Fred Coe in the great talent workshop known as the Philco Television Playhouse.  And, as far as I can think of off-hand, the last of the major live television playwrights.


2 Responses to “Last One Down”

  1. Gary Says:

    Hadn’t thought about it but, yeah, you’re right all the “names” are gone, which to me are— Robert Anderson, Robert Alan Aurthur, Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, William Gibson, Abby Mann, JP Miller, Tad Mosel, Reginald Rose, and Rod Serling (honorable mentions: N. Richard Nash and David Shaw). Some people would throw in (still living) Gore Vidal but he doesn’t quite fit (a little later chronologocally and not as prolific as the others). Ernest Kinoy is not quite a big enough name (but close) and Walter Bernstein is somewhere-in-between since he couldn’t quite make a name for himself during the Golden Age due to the Blacklist.

  2. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Glad to have you back, Gary. You’re right, Gore Vidal probably does belong in there. Even though he was only on the TV scene for about a year and a half. In a sense, he was the last of the major TV playwrights to arrive and the first to “graduate” to other media. I’ve skimmed through the TV section of VARIETY from those years, and it’s fascinating to see how Vidal was treated: after Chayefsky and Serling became name writers via “Marty” and “Patterns,” the industry was eager to spot the next big deal to come out of live TV, and Vidal was it.

    It’s purely subjective, but I realize I was probably defining the idea of “major” TV playwrights as those who wrote at least one individual script that became a celebrated TV event, and/or was translated successfully to film or the stage … and Gary, I suspect you may be thinking along the same lines. That criterion would get Gibson in (even though he was mainly a playwright and, by volume, wrote few TV scripts) but leaves out Kinoy and Bernstein, maybe Nash, and possibly David Shaw, who was the exemplar of a journeyman writer, both in output and temperament.

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