Allan Burns Which Is Credited With Changing TV Depictions Of Women Has Died Aged 85

The Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated producer/screenwriter died on Saturday, his son Matt confirmed to Variety.

The news was announced online by his long-time creative partner, James L. Brooks, who led the tributes.

“His singular writing career brought him every conceivable recognition,” Brooks tweeted on Sunday.

“But, you had to know him to appreciate his full rarity. He was simply the finest man I have ever known. A beauty of a human.”

Alan Burns, my writing partner during the Mary Tyler Moore days, died yesterday. His singular writing career brought him every conceivable recognition. But, you had to know him to appreciate his full rarity. He was simply the finest man I have every known. A beauty of a human

No details of the cause of his death were given.

Comic actor and screenwriter Michael McKean, who starred in This Is Spinal Tap, labelled Burns’ work as “solid gold”.

Burns was behind a host of popular comedies, including the original 1960s hit series, The Munsters – about a family of benign monsters.

The Golden Globe-nominated spooky satire, ran concurrently alongside another popular dark comedy, The Addams Family, and was subsequently made into a film series.

But it was for his ground-breaking work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that Burns was regularly decorated with Emmy awards.

The show ran for seven seasons from 1970-1977, with its titular character, played by Mary Tyler Moore, depicting a 30-something, single TV news producer.

According to The Washington Post, it “revolutionised” the way women were portrayed on television, during a time when many actresses were still playing housewives.

‘Times have changed’

In an interview with The Leave It to the Boomer Show, Burns explained how the success had come about.

“We met [US TV executive] Grant Tinker, because he was married to Mary Tyler Moore. He liked the work that Jim {Brooks] and I were doing on [comedy drama] Room 222 and suggested that maybe we should team up, the two of us, and write his wife a show.

“We did well, and it was the best seven years of my life.

“For an attractive woman, she [Tyler Moore] was the funniest person, a naturally funny person.

“We got research that they had done, CBS, that called Mary ‘a loser’ because she was over 30 and unmarried and working as a single woman. Well, times have changed, haven’t they?

“We weren’t trying to be political about it,” he went on. “It kind of just happened and why not go with it?”

The show spawned several spin-offs which Burns also worked on, including Rhoda and Lou Grant.

Ed Asner, who played the lead character in the latter described Burns as a “talented” man, and one of integrity and honour.

I am so sad at the passing of the Allan Burns. A mensch like no other, a friend and so incredibly talented. Say hello to the gang Allan. pic.twitter.com/Bgk9gyepiT

Raised in Baltimore, Burns and his family eventually moved to Hawaii when he was still young, and where he honed his fledgling cartoon skills.

He used them to full effect early on in his career back on the US mainland, creating the character Capn Crunch, for the children’s cereal of the same name, before working on the popular animated series, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Burns is survived by his wife, Joan, and their sons, Eric and Matt.

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