EmptySeaman Jacobs, a prolific comedy writer who penned episodes of "The Addams Family," "F-Troop" and other sitcoms and provided monologue material for comics ranging from Bob Hope to Johnny Carson, died April 8 of cardiac arrest at Century City Doctors Hospital. He was 96.
In a career that spanned more than a half-century, Jacobs also wrote for "Maude," "The Jeffersons," "My Favorite Martian," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Love Boat," among others. Often he teamed with his writing partners Fred S. Fox and Ed James.
Jacobs' feature film credits include the Elvis Presley starrer "It Happened at the World's Fair" (1962), co-written with Si Rose, and the George Burns hit sequel "Oh, God! Book II" (1980), for which he contributed to the screenplay.
Jacobs also made a career as an in-demand comedy writer. His clever wordplay helped define TV comedy as spoken by icons including Hope, Carson, Burns, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas and Ed Wynn. He first met Hope while working as a Broadway press agent.
Among the dozens of primetime TV comedy specials Jacobs helped write, he might be best known to TV viewers for contributing to Hope's run of annual all-star comedy TV specials during the '80s and '90s. In 1978, he earned a WGA Award for his work on "The George Burns One Man Show," an honor shared with Fox and Elon Packard.
Iris Burton, the foremost child agent in the industry in the 1980s who discovered River Phoenix and his siblings and "E.T." star Henry Thomas, died April 5 of pneumonia and other complications of Alzheimer's at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills. She was 77.
Her client list included Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, Tori Spelling, Brittany Murphy, Adam Rich, Corey Feldman, Kirk Cameron, Fred Savage and Kirsten Dunst. With the Iris Burton Agency, she had one of her child stars in every sitcom on TV at one point in the '80s.
At an open audition in San Antonio, Iris discovered Thomas, who starred in "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" for Steven Spielberg in 1982, and she discovered the Phoenix family (River, Joaquin, Summer and Rain) panhandling on the streets of Westwood.
Burton began in showbiz as a Broadway dancer in productions including "Top Banana" with Phil Silvers.
Her son Barry Miller co-starred in such films as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Fame" and won a Tony Award in 1985 for his work in Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues."
Robert Warnes Leach, who wrote for such TV shows as "Perry Mason" and "Men Into Space" and for films including "Pat and Mike" and "Adam's Rib," died March 30 in Laguna Beach, Calif., after a long illness. He was 93.
Leach worked the overnight rewrite shift for United Press International in the 1930s and began his Hollywood career at Fox as a junior writer in the late '40s. He also worked for MGM before moving to CBS, where he wrote for "Perry Mason," "Ripcord" and other shows.
Jim Bonk, an ex-Marine who helped build the Camelot chain into one of the nation's top music retailers, died April 5 of cancer in Canton, Ohio. He was 60.
Bonk spent his entire business career at Canton-based Camelot, signing on in 1968. Camelot, founded by Paul David in 1956, grew to 364 stores before it was sold for $385 million to a financial firm Investcorp in 1993 in a leveraged buyout.
After the sale, Bonk became president of the chain, but the high interest payments to service the heavy debt used in financing the acquisition forced Camelot into bankruptcy.
Bonk served as the president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in 1992.