We’ve just learned that veteran comedy writer Sol Saks, best known in television as the creator of the classic sitcom Bewitched, passed away on April 16th at the age of 100. The Archive interviewed Mr. Saks for 2-1/2 hours in 2009.
Video clip: Sol Saks on writing the Bewitched pilot
Sol Saks (1910-2011) learned early that “…with writing. When it ‘works’ you’re anonymous. When it doesn’t work you’re fired.” Sol Saks was a comedy writer during radio days (“Duffy’s Tavern”) and transitioned to TV ( My Favorite Husband), best-known as the creator of the long-running and popular series Bewitched. In his Archive interview, Saks talks about his early years breaking into radio writing in Chicago and Los Angeles. He gives his impressions of such radio personalities as Dinah Shore, Ozzie Nelson, Fanny Brice and Hattie McDaniel. On “Duffy’s Tavern” he recalls the long workdays and his run-ins with head writer Abe Burrows and recites a memorable joke he wrote for the show.
He describes breaking into TV with My Favorite Husband, and how the series cast actors, as opposed to comics, in the lead roles. He humorously recounts writing for seven weeks for the Joan Davis series I Married Joan, for the expressed purpose of paying for his swimming pool. He discusses in detail his work on the sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve, which starred Ida Lupino. Among the stories he tells are how he and Lupino would come up with show premises over martinis and when producer Fred De Cordova was hired, how he tried to throw out scripts Saks had written.
He notes how he came to write the Bewitched pilot and why he felt the show was popular. Lastly, he outlines his short tenure as a CBS executive (in comedy development) and reminiscences about socializing with Cary Grant during the shooting of the feature film Walk, Don’t Run. He humorously recalls: “my closet was in a dark corner and sometimes in the restaurant with Cary Grant I’d look down and I’d see I got the wrong pants with the wrong coat. And after I got to know him well, I said ‘Cary, do you notice that sometimes my coat doesn’t match my pants?’ He said, ‘Sol, on you, I only know notice when they do.’” Throughout the interview, Saks shared his thoughts on comedy writing, his disregard of writer’s block, and his belief in honesty in one’s writing and life in general. Sol Saks was interviewed in North Hollywood, CA on May 21, 2009; Bill Freiberger conducted the two-and-a-half-hour interview. (http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/sol-saks)