Devery Freeman, 92; Writers Guild Official Worked in Radio, Television and Films

From a Times Staff Writer

Devery Freeman, a writer who helped establish the Screen Writers Guild, reorganized it into the Writers Guild of America in 1954 and negotiated with studios for the guild’s right to determine film writing credits, has died. He was 92.

Freeman died Friday in Los Angeles. He had been in poor health since undergoing heart surgery in March.

“His love of language never went unfulfilled in his writing, and he never exempted himself from the concerns and problems of writers,” Leonard Stern, a fellow writer who worked on “Get Smart,” said in a statement by the Writers Guild of America, West, announcing Freeman’s death.

Freeman earned the guild’s award for outstanding television drama in 1957 for his work on “The Great American Hoax” starring Ed Wynn, based on a story by Paddy Chayefsky.


A former secretary-treasurer and board member of the guild, Freeman also earned the Guild Service Award in 1982 for his decades of work in the organization. One of his most important efforts, according to the WGA statement, was securing the right of writers to determine motion picture writing credits and establishing the system under which the guild determines those credits.

Freeman also served on the board of trustees of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and on the board of the Writers Guild Foundation.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 13, 1913, Freeman attended Brooklyn College and began his career writing short stories for the Saturday Evening Post, the New Yorker and the English magazine Punch.

He served in the Navy during World War II, co-founding the Navy unit of Armed Forces Radio, where he wrote training films and entertainment for the troops.

Freeman later wrote for the radio program “The Baby Snooks Show” starring comedian Fanny Brice. He moved west to write for MGM and worked on such motion pictures as Universal’s “Francis Joins the WACs” and “Francis in the Navy” featuring Donald O’Connor and a talking mule.

For television, Freeman worked on such shows as “Playhouse 90" and wrote and produced several series, including “The Loretta Young Show.” He also created the television western series “Sugarfoot,” starring Will Hutchins.

In later years, he wrote a novel about military school, “Father Sky,” that was turned into the 1981 motion picture “Taps,” starring Timothy Hutton,George C. Scott, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise.

Freeman is survived by sons Seth and Jonathan, and one granddaughter.

Services are scheduled for noon today at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.

The family has asked that memorial donations be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, 22212 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364; or the Writers Guild Foundation, 7000 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90048.