Herb Sargent, 81; Guild President, Writer-Producer for ‘Saturday Night Live’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Herb Sargent, a veteran comedy writer, television producer and longtime president of the Writers Guild of America, East, died Friday. He was 81.

Sargent died of natural causes at a New York hospital, according to a statement from the guild. He had undergone heart surgery last month.

Best-known for more than 20 years as a writer-producer for “Saturday Night Live,” Sargent received six Emmy Awards and six Writers Guild Awards in his career.

“Writers everywhere admired the legendary Herb Sargent, both for his body of work and for his unmatched record of service,” said Writers Guild of America, West, President Daniel Petrie Jr. He said the WGA West “joins with our sister union in mourning the loss of this great man.”

A native of Philadelphia, Sargent was raised in Upper Darby, Pa., and studied architecture at Penn State before serving in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War II.


He settled in Los Angeles after being discharged, attended UCLA and began writing for local theater productions. He moved to New York in the late 1940s, where he began writing for radio.

Moving to television in the early 1950s, he wrote for “The Colgate Comedy Hour” starring Fred Allen; “The Tonight Show” with Steve Allen and later “The Steve Allen Show.” He also wrote for “That Was the Week That Was,” for which he was also the producer.

He wrote the screenplay for the film “Bye Bye Braverman.”

Sargent served as a council member of the WGA East from 1985 to 1991 and was elected president in 1991.

He is survived by his wife, LeGrand Mellon, and his brother, Alvin Sargent. No services are planned.