Mary C. McCall Jr., Major TV, Film Writer, Dies at 81


Mary C. McCall Jr., who adapted a little-known book called “Dark Dame” into the well-known “Maisie” film series starring Ann Sothern, died Thursday night of complications of cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

The charter member and first woman president of the Writers Guild of America died one day short of her 82nd birthday.

Retired and in ill health for several years, Miss McCall at her death held more than two dozen major screen-writing credits and contributed often to a dozen TV series.


Best Known Films

Among her best known films were “Craig’s Wife,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College,” “The Sullivans” and eight of the 10 “Maisies,” made from 1939 to 1947.

For television she wrote for such disparate shows as “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Ford Theatre” and “The Millionaire.”

A native of New York City, she turned to advertising copy and fiction writing after graduating from Vassar and Trinity College in Dublin. One of her novels was purchased by Warner Bros., which indirectly led to a contract with that studio. Over the years she worked at Warners, Columbia and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

In the late 1930s she and a handful of other writers formed the Screen Writers Guild, forerunner of the Writers Guild of America. She was the first woman ever elected president of the guild--in 1942--and served two additional terms as president. She also was on the guild’s executive board for eight years.

Senate Testimony

In 1954 she voluntarily appeared before the State Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities to strenuously deny a report that she had been a communist sympathizer and in addition to her denials attacked extremists of the left and right.

Survivors include two daughters, television writer Mary David Sheiner, Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson, and two sons, Alan McCall Franklin and Gerald McCall Franklin.


There will be no funeral services. The family requests that donations in Miss McCall’s memory be made to the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital.