A.J. Carothers, 75; movie, TV writer with talent for comedy

Times Staff Writer

A.J. Carothers, a movie and television screenwriter whose flair for comedy was apparent in such films as "The Secret of My Success," starring Michael J. Fox, and "The Happiest Millionaire," starring Fred MacMurray, has died. He was 75.

Carothers died Monday at his home in Los Angeles. The cause was cancer, his son Andrew said.

The writer began his career in television in the late 1940s as a story editor for "Studio One." He went on to become an associate producer for "Playhouse 90" and, later, "General Electric Theater," starting in the 1950s.

In the '60s he wrote some of his earliest scripts for television, including episodes of "My Three Sons," with MacMurray as a widower raising his children.

Later in his career, Carothers created several TV series. One of them, "Goodnight, Beantown," starred Mariette Hartley and Bill Bixby as Boston news anchors who were romantically attached. The show debuted in 1983 and aired for a year.

Carothers was born Oct. 22, 1931, in Houston and graduated from UCLA before he launched his career. He married Caryl Volkmann in 1959. The couple had three children.

He is survived by his wife, sons Cameron and Christopher of Los Angeles and Andrew of San Francisco, as well as a brother, a sister and four grandchildren.

Through most of the 1960s, Carothers was a contract writer for Walt Disney studios, where he wrote a number of film scripts. "Miracle of the White Stallions" (1963) is about the rescue of the prized Lipizzaner show horses from Vienna during World War II.

In "The Happiest Millionaire" (1967), MacMurray played a rich eccentric. The next year Carothers wrote "Never a Dull Moment," also for Disney, starring Dick Van Dyke as an inept actor who accidentally gets involved with organized crime.

In the 1980s, Carothers wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for "The Secret of My Success," starring Fox and Helen Slater, as well as the screenplay for "Hero at Large," starring John Ritter and Anne Archer.

He wrote the book for "Busker Alley," a stage musical featuring Tommy Tune that toured nationally in the mid-1990s.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. April 29 at Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Contributions in Carothers' name can be made to the church's music program.



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