Mike Marmer, veteran comedy writer from television’s Golden Age who shared an Emmy for his work on “The Carol Burnett Show,” has died. He was 76.
Marmer, who scripted sitcom episodes as well as variety sketches, died Saturday in Los Angeles of cancer.
Frequently teamed with fellow funny man Stan Burns, Marmer worked with him and others on the Carol Burnett sketch “Went With the Wind,” a parody of the classic “Gone With the Wind.” The sketch earned the group of writers the 1971-72 Emmy for outstanding writing achievement in variety or music programs.
Marmer’s work also earned him a Sylvania television award and four Writers Guild Awards.
He wrote for most of the major comedy variety shows of the late 1950s and 1960s, including those of Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, the Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, Milton Berle and Redd Foxx. He made television specials a specialty, scripting at least 20 “Dean Martin Roasts” and such 1970s fare as “The Ted Knight Musical Comedy Variety Special Special,” 'The First 50 Years” and “Lindsay Wagner: Another Side of Me,” and in the 1980s “Ladies and Gentlemen Bob Newhart” and “Success: It Can Be Yours.’
Among the series for which Marmer wrote scripts were “Gilligan’s Island,” 'F Troop,” 'Get Smart” and “Three’s Company.’
Perhaps Marmer’s most unusual show, and certainly one of the most beloved, was the Saturday morning children’s show “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp,” which ran on ABC from 1970 to 1972. With Burns, Marmer created, produced and wrote the show, which has been described as “‘Get Smart’ with fur and psychedelic music.’
Costly because of special lighting and use of many animals, the show featured Lancelot Link, super agent for Agency to Prevent Evil (APE), an allusion to the popular detective series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Link and his female partner Mata Hari battled such villains as the Duchess, the Baron, Wang Fu, Dr. Strangemind and Ali AssaSeen, who worked for the evildoers’ association known as C.H.U.M.P.
A sendup of all spy shows of the era, including the spoof “Get Smart” itself, the show even had its own rock band, called the Evolution Revolution, with fairly catchy songs-all written by Marmer and Burns.
A documentary about the “Lancelot Link” show by Diane Bernard and Jeff Krulik was voted best documentary at the 1999 New York Underground Film Festival.
Born Merrill D. Marmer in Lowell, Mass., Marmer served as a Marine on Okinawa in World War II. He later graduated from Suffolk University in Boston and acted in regional theater in New York and New England before beginning his writing career.
Married three times, Marmer is survived by a son, Miles Crakow of Los Angeles; a daughter, Jennifer Crakow of San Francisco; and a sister, Ruth Fishman of Framingham, Mass.
The family has asked that memorial donations be sent to the American Cancer Society or to Stepping Stones Youth Shelter on the Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation, 8955 Mission Road, Fallon Indian Reservation, NV 89406.