Bill Persky helped save Carl Reiner’s life. That’s how the late, great creator-executive producer of The Dick Van Dyke Show saw it anyway. As the third season approached, he desperately needed steady help churning out 30 to 33 scripts a year for his hit CBS sitcom of the 1960s.
Enter Persky and writing partner Sam Denoff. The former radio men from New York had made headway as sketch writers for stars such as Steve Allen, Joey Bishop and Andy Williams, but they desperately wanted to crack the big time of sitcom writing. So, through their agent, they submitted a spec script to Reiner.
The only problem was -- he hated it.
Fortunately, he was kind enough to give them a second chance. That next spec script turned out to be one of the classics from the series – “That’s My Boy?”—the one where Rob thinks they’ve brought home the wrong child from the hospital.
Persky and Denoff went on to create That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas, in 1965, as well as write and produce other shows such as Good Morning World, Lotsa Luck with Dom DeLuise and The Montefuscos. Persky later concentrated on directing, helming over 100 episodes of the ‘80s comedy Kate & Allie.
Persky’s memoir is titled, “My Life is a Situation Comedy” and you’ll want to order it and read it after listening to the very spry 89-year-old spin story-after-story from the Golden Age of television.