Sherwood Schwartz, the very funny and witty creator of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” two of the most criticized television sitcoms of the 1960s and ’70s, died on July 12th in Los Angeles at the age of 94. That’s right. Criticized. Both Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch ran during the Vietnam War, which was a very tumultuous time with a lot of protests and social upheaval. At the time critics didn’t like either of the shows claiming they were too silly. In retrospect it may be because they ran as a counter to the whole the sixties era that they were successful. They gave people a break.
For the most part, Schwartz wanted his work to be funny and light-hearted, but apparently his peers and pop culture scholars took him very seriously. David Marc and Robert Thompson, authors of ‘Prime Time, Prime Movers,’ said Schwartz was an innovator who made a “surgical strike into the national psyche.” His creations were taken as commentary as much as they were comedy. The Brady Bunch, a show about a run-of-the-mill family in California, began in 1969 (shortly after Woodstock), and ended in 1974 when President Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal. Here you had this very clean-cut, All-American Brady family airing on network television in direct and stark contrast to images of hippies marching on Washington in protest of the war.
Although many critics called Gilligan’s Island, the “LOST” of the late 60’s, inept, moronic, and preposterous, it nonetheless became one of the most popular television shows of its time. It told the story of seven different castaways from diverse walks of life.In a 1996 interview, Mr. Swartz described the story as a social statement with the following message: It’s one world, and we all have to live with each other. It was a weekly lesson in the fact that we all have to learn to live together. Schwartz also helped write the songs for both series.
People who hardly remember the show about castaways on an island or the Brady family still remember the theme songs from both series. The “Ballad of Gilligan’s Island” told the story of the castaways and how they ended up on the island together. The Brady Bunch theme told the story of a how a woman with three daughters marries and man with three sons. It may sound a bit trite, but today, people still remember the short phrases like, “A three hour tour,” and “The youngest one in curls,” from both series. Cast members, family, friends, and associates all remember Schwartz as a very funny, creative, and charming man. Florence Henderson, who played the mom on ‘The Brady Bunch’ said Schwartz was a wonderful, writer, producer, and husband. Despite a lot of initial ridicule from critics and others, Mr. Schwartz was able to endure the negative reviews and watch his shows become successful in the years to come. Schwartz is survived by his wife, Mildred, three sons, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, and thousands of grateful cable TV viewers.