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Robert Kaufman; Comedy Writer for Movies and TV

November 23, 1991|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Robert Kaufman, comedy writer of hit movies such as "Love at First Bite" and television series such as the first "Bob Newhart Show," has died. He was 60.

Kaufman died Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills after a heart attack.

He earned both the Emmy award and the Peabody award for writing Newhart's 1961 variety show and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1967 for "Divorce, American Style," which he co-wrote with Norman Lear.

Kaufman specialized in comedy, and was much in demand for satirical television series like "Get Smart" and Newhart's show.

"The only thing harder than monogamy is writing comedy," the twice-divorced Kaufman told The Times in 1986.

When "Love at First Bite," his film about Dracula getting the girl, became a hit in 1979, Kaufman celebrated by buying a Rolls-Royce. He also produced the film, which starred George Hamilton and Susan St. James.

"All my films are about commitment," Kaufman said at the time. "Somehow. The moral was, love is better with a monster who'll make a commitment than with a nebbish who won't."

Born March 22, 1931, Kaufman attended Columbia University from 1948 to 1951, then spent the next three years hitchhiking across the United States and Europe, from San Diego to Bangor, Me., and from Paris to Copenhagen.

He began his career as a publicist in New York for Mort Sahl and switched to comedy writing, including material for comedian Dick Shawn, in the late 1950s.

Moving to Hollywood in 1961, Kaufman concentrated on television scripts for a few years, and won his first film credit in 1965 for "Ski Party," starring Frankie Avalon.

Other films written by Kaufman included "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine," "I Love My Wife," "Freebie and the Bean," and "How to Beat the High Cost of Living."

His most recent film was "She's Out of Control," which he produced in 1989.

Kaufman is survived by his third wife, producer Robin Krause, and four children from his first marriage--Richard, Melissa, Robin and Christopher.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary.

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