The Death of the Man Who Gave Us the Death of Chuckles


One of the biggest sitcom writers in Hollywood passed away on Tuesday: David Lloyd, who contributed to some of the biggest comedies to ever air on television, and wrote many of their best episodes to boot. Lloyd's credits included Cheers, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, Taxi, Wings, and Frasier, though his most famous (and probably most lasting) contribution to TV is almost certainly the "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where Mary and her friends can't keep themselves from cracking up during the funeral of Chuckles the clown.

His colleague Ken Levine wrote a heartfelt appreciation of Lloyd at HuffPo:

Story meetings with David were unique. Generally the staff and writer pitch out ideas and eventually cobble together a story. The writer takes extensive notes, goes home, and writes the outline. David kept no notes. Ever. Even with a million thoughts flying around. He'd come back three days later with an outline that contained every detail. Contrast that with [my writing partner] and me. Even taking furious notes we still taped the story meetings because invariably we would forget or miss something important. David Lloyd kept it all in his head.

And his outlines themselves were a thing to behold. No other Cheers writer that I know could get away ending a scene by saying, "Carla says something really crass and stupid here and we move on before the audience hates her."

David Lloyd attended Yale where he was classmates with such notables as Dick Cavett and Richard Maltby Jr.. He went on to write for Jack Paar, Dick Cavett, and the Tonight Show. Legend has it (a legend perpetuated by him) that he wanted to come out to California so he dashed off a spec The Mary Tyler Moore Show without ever having seen the show and he sold it. And throughout his entire sitcom career he never had an agent. He negotiated his own deals. Like I said, there was no one like him.


  • SunnydaZe says:

    What can you say about a man who always knew what to say? Because whatever is said he would have said better. (and funnier)

  • DJL says:

    We family members appreciate your kind words, but I must correct some of your facts, many of which are culled directly from Ken Levine's blog. My father did not die yesterday, he died Tuesday night the 10th. He did not want to come out to California, and was actually strongly encouraged by a fellow writer to write a spec script for the Mary show. He most certainly did not perpetuate that rumor. A minor correction, I'll admit, but for the sake of the family, we encourage accuracy. Thank you.

  • Zombie says:

    That episode is one of the greatest bits of comedy of all time. I laugh out loud when I think of it. "A little song, a little dance — a little seltzer down your pants..." Thank you, Mr. Lloyd.

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