Allan Burns
Allan Pennington Burns

(1935-05-18)May 18, 1935
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedJanuary 30, 2021(2021-01-30) (aged 85)
  • Screenwriter
  • television producer
Notable workThe Munsters
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Joan Bailey
(m. 1964)

Allan Pennington Burns (May 18, 1935 – January 30, 2021)[1] was an American screenwriter and television producer. He was best known for co-creating and writing for the television sitcoms The Munsters and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Early life

Burns was born in Baltimore on May 18, 1935.[2][3] His father died when he was nine years old. Three years later, he moved to Honolulu with his mother after his older brother was assigned to Naval Station Pearl Harbor.[1] He attended Punahou School and illustrated a cartoon that featured several times a week in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.[4] He studied architecture at the University of Oregon starting in 1953,[2][3] after being awarded a partial scholarship. He dropped out two years later and moved to Los Angeles, where he secured a job as a page for NBC.[4]


Before breaking into television and film, he started in animation, working for Jay Ward and collaborating on and animating The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle.[2] Burns also created the Cap'n Crunch character for Quaker Oats.[3]

After his stint writing for Jay Ward, Burns formed a partnership with Chris Hayward. They created the series The Munsters (1964) and My Mother the Car (1965), and they were hired by producer Leonard Stern as story editors for the series He & She, for which they won an Emmy award for comedy writing.[2] The last project between Hayward and Burns was the sitcom Get Smart.[2] During this time, Burns co-wrote the unaired version of the 1965 pilot episode of The Smothers Brothers Show.[2]

Burns first met James L. Brooks in 1965, getting him a writing job on his show My Mother The Car.[5] After being impressed with the television pilot for Brooks's show Room 222, Burns began a partnership with Brooks and joined the Room 222 writing staff and later produced the series.[2]

After Room 222, television executive Grant Tinker hired Brooks and Burns to develop a television series for CBS starring Mary Tyler Moore.[2] In 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered and became a critically acclaimed series, spawning spin-off series such as Lou Grant and Rhoda.[3] Brooks and Burns also created the 1974 situation comedy Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.[6] Burns also worked as a writer and producer on the shows FM,[3] The Duck Factory,[7][8] Eisenhower and Lutz, and Cutters.[3]

Burns also worked in film, co-writing the film A Little Romance (1979), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[9] He also wrote the screenplays Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, Just the Way You Are and wrote and directed Just Between Friends.[10]

Personal life

Burns married Joan Bailey in 1964; the couple had two children: Eric and Matthew.[11]

Burns died at his home in Los Angeles on January 30, 2021, aged 85, from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.[1]


Primetime Emmy Awards

Year[a] Category Work Result Ref.
1968 Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series He & She, "The Coming-Out Party" (with Chris Hayward) Won [12]
1971 The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Support Your Local Mother," (with James L. Brooks) Won [13]
1973 The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "The Good Time News" (with James L. Brooks) Nominated [14]
1975 Rhoda, "Rhoda's Wedding" (with Norman Barasch, James L. Brooks, David Davis, David Lloyd, Carroll Moore, and Lorenzo Music) Nominated [15]
1977 The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "The Last Show" (with James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, Bob Ellison, David Lloyd, and Ed. Weinberger) Won [16]
1980 Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Lou Grant, "Brushfire" (with Gene Reynolds) Nominated [17]


  1. ^ a b c Sandomir, Richard (February 3, 2021). "Allan Burns, a Creator of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Haring, Bruce (January 31, 2021). "Allan Burns Dies: Co-Creator Of 'The Munsters' And 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' Was 85". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Shafer, Ellise (January 31, 2021). "Allan Burns, Emmy-Winning Writer and Creator of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' Dies at 85". Variety. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (January 31, 2021). "Allan Burns, Co-Creator of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' Dies at 85". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  5. ^ Alex Simon (December 1997 – January 1998). "James L. Brooks: Laughter That Stings in Your Throat". Venice Magazine
  6. ^ "Some Laughs in Big Package Producer". Dayton Daily News. July 30, 1974. p. 36. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  7. ^ Shales, Tom (April 12, 1984). "Absolutely Ducky!Madness &". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  8. ^ Ross, Val (April 9, 1984). "A chameleon comic adapts to success". Maclean's. Toronto. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  9. ^ "A Little Romance (1979)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  10. ^ "Allan Burns". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  11. ^ Alley, Robert S. "Burns, Allan". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  12. ^ "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – 1968". Television Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – 1971". Television Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  14. ^ "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – 1973". Television Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  15. ^ "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – 1975". Television Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  16. ^ "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series – 1977". Television Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  17. ^ McNeil, Alex (1980). Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to 1980. Penguin Books. p. 934. ISBN 9780140049114.


  1. ^ Indicates the year of the ceremony.