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Larry Gelbart Dies At 81

Comedy writing legend Larry Gelbart, best known for being behind the classic 1970s TV series MASH, died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Gelbart's career spanned decades, from radio (which led to a job under Bob Hope) to the early days of TV - working with fellow legends Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Neil Simon on Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour" -- up through the present day with such telepics as HBO's "Weapons of Mass Destraction" and "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself." In June, Gelbart presided over a reading at the WGA Theater in BevHills of a pilot for a dark comedy, "Pinnacle," that he was developing.

In between those years, Gelbart co-wrote the hit feature "Tootsie" and penned another smash movie, "Oh, God!," both of which earned him Oscar noms.

TV scribe Ken Levine, who worked on MASH under Gelbart's tutelage, has called him "the Mozart of comedy writers."

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