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Dale McRaven, the Emmy-nominated comedy writer and producer who created Mork & Mindy with Garry Marshall and then the long-running Perfect Strangers on his own, has died. He was 83.
McRaven died Sept. 5 of complications from lung cancer at his Porter Ranch home in Los Angeles, his son, David McRaven, told The Hollywood Reporter.
McRaven also served as a writer on the fifth and final season of CBS’ The Dick Van Dyke Show and as a writer-producer on ABC’s The Partridge Family during that musical comedy’s 1970-74 run. Plus, he and Marshall created the 1979-80 ABC sitcom Angie, starring Donna Pescow and Robert Hays.
Perfect Strangers, from Miller-Boyett Productions and Lorimar Television, debuted in March 1986 and starred Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot as mismatched cousins — one an American, the other from the fictional island of Mypos — who live together in a Chicago apartment.
Amid creative differences, McRaven stepped away from daily production of the series after a couple years but continued to send in script notes as Perfect Strangers ran for eight seasons and 150 episodes.
He retired from show business in the mid-1990s, then took up photography and digital art.
The fifth of six children, Dale Keith McRaven was born on March 5, 1939, on a farm near Pulaski, Illinois. He was raised in Chicago and Phoenix before he came to Hollywood in 1957 and sold his first script to Steve Allen.
In 1964, he was hired by Marshall and paired with Carl Kleinschmidt as a staff writer on the fourth and last season of NBC’s The Joey Bishop Show. A year later, producer Sheldon Leonard brought the pair to The Dick Van Dyke Show, and they received a WGA award.
McRaven and Kleinschmidt wrote for Gomer Pyle: USMC, That Girl, Hey, Landlord, The Odd Couple and Good Morning World, sharing an office on Sunset Boulevard with Marshall and Jerry Belson and another writing team, Jim Parker and Arnold Margolin. Every five years, they would reunite to have lunch and take a photo in front of their old digs.
After he split with Kleinschmidt, McRaven wrote and produced The Partridge Family while also producing albums from the “band” made up of castmates Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce and Susan Dey.
In 1974, he came up with ABC’s The Texas Wheelers, an MTM Enterprises sitcom about a lazy father (Jack Elam) who returns to take care of his kids (two of them were played by Gary Busey and Mark Hamill) after mom dies. Filmed without a laugh track, it lasted just eight episodes but was said to be his favorite show among those he created.
Marshall had to convince McRaven to join him on Mork & Mindy, a spinoff of Happy Days that starred Robin Williams and Pam Dawber and ran for four seasons, from September 1978 through May 1982. (Joe Glauberg also was a co-creator of the series.)
McRaven shared an Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series in 1979 for his work on the show but lost out to ABC’s Taxi.
His résumé also included writing for Get Smart, Room 222, Love, American Style and The Betty White Show.
In addition to his son, survivors include his daughter, Renee; daughter-in-law Ruth; grandchildren Justin and Matthew; and niece Grissy, her husband, Dismas, and their daughter, Nefertina.
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