Gene Perret, Emmy-Winning Writer on ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ Dies at 85

Gene Perret, Emmy-Winning Writer on ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ Dies at 85

Gene Perret, a master comedy writer and producer, has passed away. He was known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and jokes for Bob Hope over nearly three decades. He was 85.

Perret died Nov. 15 of liver failure at his home in Westlake Village, his daughter Linda Perret told The Hollywood Reporter.

During his 50-year career, the South Philadelphia native also wrote for two Tim Conway-starring shows as well as for Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, All in the Family, Welcome Back, Kotter, Three’s Company, CPO Sharkey, Gimme a Break! , Love, American Style , and What’s Happening!

An analytical expert when it came to comedy, Perret joined Burnett in 1973 and served as a staff writer on her legendary CBS variety program for its final five seasons. He received his Emmys in 1974, ’75 and ’78 and was nominated three other times.

Perret collaborated with Hope for 28 years, writing for his TV specials and USO Christmas tours. He accompanied the famed comedian on many of the trips he made around the world to entertain the troops before Hope retired in the 1990s.

Born on April 3, 1937, Eugene Richard Perret went to work for General Electric in 1956 and got laughs during a roast of his boss at a party. He sent jokes and encouragement to Phyllis Diller and Slappy White, who hired him.

He said, “If you could see the engineer I was, you would know that going into comedy was an obvious progression.”

Perret quit engineering in 1969 and moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he landed writing jobs on The Jim Nabors Hour, The Tim Conway Show and Laugh-In.

Later, he wrote for specials starring John Ritter and Helen Reddy and produced episodes of Kotter, Three’s Company and the 1980-81 Conway show.

Perret also wrote more than 30 books, including the Comedy Writing step by step and The Comedy Writing Workbook ,. He also hosted workshops for young comedians and writers.

A mentor to many, he was honored by the South Philadelphia Walk of Fame in 2013.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Joanne (she and Perret first met in kindergarten, were in the same class through 8th grade and were reintroduced by a former classmate after attending separate high schools); children Joe, Terry, Carole and Linda, his co-author on several books; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Donations can be made in his memory to The Brothers of the Christian Schools , the USO .

He called comedy writers “incurable rewriters” in a 2018 interview.

He noted that “As soon they hear a line they begin to ‘improve it’.” “The idea is that the joke should be as effective and as funny as possible. All lines can be improved. While the original may be the most funny, we always try to make it more fun. If we succeed, it is funnier; if we don’t, it’s still a pretty good line.”

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