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Mel Tolkin, an award-winning writer whose career in television comedy stretched from the earliest days of the medium until he retired in the 1980s, died Nov. 26 in Los Angeles of age-related causes. He was 94.

Tolkin and his partner, Lucille Kallen, were the first two writers on Sid Caesar's first television show, and he became the head writer on Caesar's "Your Show of Shows." He went on to write for Danny Kaye, Danny Thomas, Bob Hope and many other comedians and wrote for "All in the Family" for six years.

He won an Emmy, a Humanitas Prize, a Peabody and four WGA Awards.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Edith Tolkin, who was vp legal affairs at Paramount for many years. His sons Michael Tolkin and Stephen Tolkin are writers in the industry.



Dick Wilson, the character actor who turned "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" into a national catchphrase as Mr. Whipple in the TV commercial campaign that ran for more than two decades, died Nov. 19 of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 91.

A comedic acrobatic dancer who performed for 20 years in vaudeville, Wilson portrayed Mr. Whipple in more than 500 commercials from 1964-85 and again in 1999.

He appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including starring in "The Better Home Show" on ABC in 1951. He often had guest roles in Westerns and sitcoms and was a regular on "Bewitched" and "McHale's Navy."



Mary Ann Henderson, a former television network executive, died Nov. 13 of complications from a lung ailment at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank. She was 66.

During the 1990s, Henderson was director of late-night programming at ABC, where she helped to usher Rick Dees into the late-night variety format, after performing the same role for Pat Sajak at CBS.



Ronnie Burns, the adopted son of George Burns and Gracie Allen, who played himself on his parents' TV shows in the 1950s, died Nov. 14 of cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 72.

He appeared on a few other shows, including "Playhouse 90" and "The Honeymooners," but quit acting in the early '60s. He worked behind the cameras with his father in 1964, producing the sitcom "Wendy and Me."



Sigrid Valdis, who played Col. Klink's blond secretary on "Hogan's Heroes" and married the sitcom's star, Bob Crane, died Oct. 14 of lung cancer in Anaheim. She was 72.

Valdis played Hilda for five seasons on "Hogan's Heroes," which ran from the 1965-71 on CBS. She and Crane were married on the show's set in 1970.

She appeared on television series including "Kraft Mystery Theater" and "The Wild Wild West." Her film credits include "Two Tickets to Paris," "Marriage on the Rocks," "Our Man Flint" and "The Venetian Affair."



Michael Blodgett, an actor known for his role as Lance Rocke in the 1970 cult film "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" who went on to write novels and screenplays, died Nov. 14 of an apparent heart attack at his Los Angeles home. He was 68.

Blodgett's film credits also included the Kirk Douglas Western "There Was a Crooked Man" and "The Velvet Vampire."

He teamed with writing partner Dennis Shryack to turn Blodgett's "Hero and the Terror," published in 1982, into a screenplay for the 1988 Chuck Norris martial arts movie. The pair also co-wrote the screenplays for the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy "Turner & Hooch" and the 1987 Burt Reynolds action comedy "Rent-a-Cop."
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