Al Gordon, who parlayed a chance wartime meeting with an entertainment troupe into an Emmy-winning career as a writer for Jack Benny, the Smothers Brothers and many others, died May 23 at 89.
As told to the L.A. Times by his son, Neil, Gordon was in the Air Force on a small island in the Azores during World War II when a plane carrying an army entertainment unit landed there with engine trouble. He kibitzed with the troupe’s writers as they worked on jokes for an upcoming show while waiting for repairs. After the war, one of the writers remembered him and asked him to join them in Hollywood.
He and writing partner Hal Goldman joined the staff of Jack Benny’s radio and TV program in 1950 and stayed with him for more than two decades, during which they shared two Emmy Awards.
The New York Times described Gordon, was born in Akron, Ohio, and moved with his family to the Bronx as a child, as “a high-strung, fast-talking gag writer from the Bronx who never finished high school.” Benny’s manager, Irving Fein, called Gordon “a quick little fellow, a very good one-liner man,” in a 1998 interview.
He received seven other Emmy nominations and wrote for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Flip Wilson Show, The Carol Burnett Show, That’s My Mama, Three’s Company and other shows. (JTA)