Bernard Slade, 'Partridge Family' Creator and 'Same Time, Next Year' Writer, Dies at 89

Courtesy JAG PR
Bernard Slade

The Oscar nominee also developed 'The Flying Nun,' wrote for 'Bewitched' and created other sitcoms.

Bernard Slade, the Oscar-nominated writer who created The Partridge Family and wrote the enduring romantic comedy Same Time, Next Year for Broadway and the big screen, died Wednesday. He was 89.

Slade died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home from complications of Lewy body dementia, a family rep announced.

In the 1960s and '70s, Slade also developed ABC's The Flying Nun and created NBC's The Girl With Something Extra, two comedies starring Sally Field; created ABC's Love on a Rooftop, featuring Judy Carne, Pete Duel and Rich Little, and CBS' Bridget Loves Bernie, starring David Birney and Meredith Baxter; and served as a story editor and penned 17 episodes for ABC's Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery.

Both original versions of Same Time, Next Year starred Ellen Burstyn, who won a Tony in 1975 for her stage performance, then earned an Oscar nomination for best actress. She starred opposite Charles Grodin on Broadway and with Alan Alda in the 1978 feature. Slade's work netted him Tony and Oscar noms as well.

In Same Time, Next Year, the characters Doris and George spend two decades returning to a cozy inn on the anniversary of their tryst.

In June 1978, while Same Time, Next Year was still thriving, Slade's second Broadway show, Tribute, opened. Starring Jack Lemmon as a terminally ill actor, it ran for 200 performances but closed shortly after the star left six months after its debut. But Slade returned to Broadway in November 1979 with Romantic Comedy, starring Mia Farrow and Anthony Perkins. That lasted for nearly 400 performances.

The writer also adapted Tribute (back with Lemmon) and Romantic Comedy (starring Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen) for movies released in 1980 and 1983, respectively.

Slade said that watching the musical family group The Cowsills perform on The Tonight Show inspired his idea for The Partridge Family. Launching the careers of teen idol David Cassidy, Susan Dey and Danny Bonaduce, the show starred Shirley Jones as the matriarch of the fictional family singing group. It ran for four seasons on ABC and was seen in syndication for years.

He was born Bernard Slade Newbound on May 2, 1930, in St. Catharines, Ontario. He returned with his parents, Frederick and Bessie, to their native England in 1935 and spent World War II as a child evacuee, moving constantly and attending 13 schools in seven years.

"Always the 'new boy,' both extremely shy and gregarious, I evolved a personality of the class wit," he wrote in his 2000 memoir, Shared Laughter.

Returning to Canada at 18, Slade settled in Toronto and embarked on a career as an actor, appearing in more than 200 plays on stage, radio and television. He and his late wife, actress Jill Foster, took over the Garden Center Theatre in Vineland, Ontario, for a 26-week season of regional theater, putting on a play a week. 

Slade wrote his first teleplay, The Prizewinner, in 1957, which was sold to NBC and produced in many countries, before moving to Los Angeles in 1964 and eventually landing a job with Screen Gems.

Bristling under the network control of his TV projects, he returned to the theater with Same Time, Next Year. Directed by Gene Saks, it opened on Broadway in March 1975 and played for more than 1,400 performances.

Special Occasions, produced in 1982 as his final Broadway effort, also had a successful run in the West End in London and elsewhere. All of Slade's plays, including many that were not produced on Broadway — including Return EngagementsAct of the ImaginationFatal AttractionYou Say Tomatoes and Same Time, Another Year — have been enjoyed by audiences for decades.

A deal was just signed for Same Time, Next Year to be produced in Italy, his family said.

Slade was married to Foster for 64 years before her death in 2017. He often credited her as the inspiration for many of his favorite female characters, including Doris.

Survivors include his sister Shirley; his children, Laurie and Chris; and his granddaughters, Caitlin, Madison, Emma and Hailey. Plans for a memorial will be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to The Actors Fund.