Entertainment & Arts

US sitcom writer Leonard Stern dies at 87

Leonard Stern
Image caption Stern worked on more than 23 sitcoms during his career

US writer and producer Leonard Stern, who was behind hit shows including Get Smart and The Honeymooners, has died aged 87.

The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner died of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, his spokesman said.

Stern found early success in the 1950s writing for sitcoms like The Phil Silvers Show.

He also created and directed 1970s crime drama McMillan and Wife starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.

Stern penned two Abbott & Costello films before his stint on The Jackie Gleason Show, where he wrote The Honeymooners sketches - which later spawned a TV series.

During his career, he worked as a writer and producer on more than 20 sitcoms.

In the 1960s, he created the sitcoms I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, fugitive satire Run Buddy Run, and He & She, starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss as two young love birds.

The writer's film credits include screenplays for 1952 film The Jazz Singer, 1979's Just You and Me, Kid starring George Burns and Brooke Shields - which he also directed - and 1985 film Target starring Gene Hackman.

Aside from his Hollywood career, Stern also co-created a popular word game, Mad Libs - in which people fill in blank spaces with random nouns, adjectives and adverbs to form funny stories.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, actress Gloria Stroock - who played Hudson's secretary on McMillan & Wife - and two children.