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Comedy writer Bob Carroll, Jr., dies at 87

Bob Carroll Jr., a pioneering television writer who worked on all of Lucille Ball’s TV shows, including “I Love Lucy,” has died. He was 87.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bob Carroll Jr., a pioneering television writer who worked on all of Lucille Ball’s TV shows, including “I Love Lucy,” has died. He was 87.

Carroll, who had been in failing health for the past month, died Saturday, family friend and fellow TV writer Thomas Watson told The Associated Press on Monday.

Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis, his writing partner of more than 60 years, were working on comedian Steve Allen’s radio show in the 1940s when they learned Ball was looking for writers for her show, “My Favorite Husband.”

“They actually conned Steve Allen into writing his own show one week and took the time off to write a spec script for Lucy,” Watson said. “CBS and Lucy loved it, and they became the first permanent writers on ’My Favorite Husband.”’

When the show moved to television in 1953, Ball took her writers with her, changing the name to “I Love Lucy” and adding real-life husband Desi Arnaz to the cast.

Carroll and Pugh went on to work on every episode of the long-running show, Watson said, as well as many episodes of “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” “The Lucy Show,” “Here’s Lucy” and “Life With Lucy.” The latter show went off the air in 1986, three years before Ball’s death.

Many of the shows had essentially the same premise: Lucy gets involved in some routine function and, often through well-intentioned deviousness coupled with incredible clumsiness, manages to turn it into a pratfall-filled disaster.

Carroll and Davis also collaborated on several other projects, including the 1968 film “Yours, Mine and Ours” and the Arnaz-produced sitcom “The Mothers-In-Law.”

Born Aug. 12, 1919 (some sources list 1918), in McKeesport, Pa., Carroll moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., with his family when he was 3. His interest in writing was piqued as a teenager when he entered a radio contest, submitting a script he had written while laid up in bed recovering from a hip ailment, Watson said. His submission won first prize.

After a couple of years, he left for Los Angeles, where he landed a job as an usher with CBS radio affiliate KNX, Watson said. After a stint in the mailroom he was promoted to the writing staff.

Married and divorced twice, Carroll is survived by a daughter.