Benjamin Starr (October 18, 1921 – January 19, 2014) was an American television producer, creator, writer and playwright.
October 18, 1921
|Died||January 19, 2014 92) (aged|
|Occupation||Television producer, creator and writer|
|Spouse(s)||Gloria Kaplan (m. 1949–1999; her death)|
Born in Manhattan, New York, to Russian immigrants, Starr grew up in Brooklyn and worked in his parents' doughnut factory. He attended City College, later graduated from UCLA, and served in World War II. He became a second lieutenant navigator stationed in England and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the military, he began writing comedy for radio stars, such as Al Jolson, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and George Burns. He started his television writing career for the live program Climax!.
Starr co-created the sitcom Silver Spoons, helped develop The Facts of Life, and was a regular screenwriter for the popular series Mister Ed and All in the Family. He also wrote for such comedies as Chico and the Man, Maude, The Andy Griffith Show, Petticoat Junction and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He is notably credited for writing The Brady Bunch episode "The Personality Kid" in which Peter Brady (Christopher Knight) delivers his Humphrey Bogart impersonation of "pork chops and applesauce". Starr also penned the Diff'rent Strokes line "What are you talking about, Willis?", in which Gary Coleman delivered in his own way and made it a catchphrase.
Starr also co-wrote the screenplays for the 1966 James Bond parody Our Man Flint, the 1966 Western satire Texas Across the River and the animated versions of Treasure Island (1972) and Oliver Twist (1974). He also wrote plays, including Broadway's The Family Way in 1965. The 2012 documentary Lunch featured Starr, along with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner and other career comedy writers and performers who reflected on the genre and the industry.
Starr was married to his wife Gloria Kaplan for 50 years, until her death in 1999. They had three children. At age 92, Starr died of congestive heart failure in 2014 at his home in Los Angeles.
- "'Facts of Life,' 'Silver Spoons' Co-Creator Ben Starr Dies at 92". Variety. 20 January 2014. ISSN 0042-2738.
- "Ben Starr Obituary". Los Angeles Times. 21 January 2014.
- "Remembering Ben Starr". Archive of American Television. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. 20 January 2014.
- "R.I.P. Writer-Producer Ben Starr". Deadline Hollywood. PMC. 20 January 2014.
- "PASSINGS: Ben Starr, Otis Pike". Los Angeles Times. 20 January 2014.