June 16, 2011

Sad news: A friend of his writes to inform that comedy writer Burt Styler passed away on June 13.  Burt was a warm, open guy and one of the first people I contacted when I began compiling oral histories with early television writers in 2002-2003.  We hadn’t stayed in touch, but our lunch over pastrami sandwiches in Art’s Deli — one of the great old-time hangouts for Valley-side TV people of Burt’s era — remains one of my favorite memories from that process.  My interview with Styler became one of the debut pieces that launched the Classic TV History website in 2007.  If you missed it then, now’s your chance.

One thing that amused me about Burt was his steadfast insistence, even well into retirement, to disclose his age.  He’s the only writer I’ve interviewed who wouldn’t come across even when I pressed.  (Actually, now that I think about it, he’s the only male writer.)  Burt’s friend tells me that his date of birth was February 20, 1925.  I wonder about that, because I’d come up with 1924 in a public records database.  But I hope the 1925 date turns out to be accurate — because it means that Burt was born on the same date as Robert Altman.  Good company.

Robert Foster, a writer-producer of Knight Rider and a number of television movies, died on May 3o at the age of 73.  Foster, the son of a Universal staffer, began his career in television in 1966 as an assistant to Roy Huggins on Run For Your Life.  Teaming with Philip DeGuere, Jr. (who also died much too young), Foster moved quickly into writing, penning three teleplays for Run For Your Life in its second and third seasons.  He collaborated briefly with Huggins on the latter’s next effort, the Lawyers segments of The Bold Ones, but left Universal to take story editor jobs on Hawaii Five-O, Mod Squad, Nichols, and The Snoop Sisters.  Foster also wrote for Kojak and Chicago Story, among other series.


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