Parke Levy, a writer and humorist who created the television series "December Bride" in the image of his mother-in-law, died Monday in Los Angeles.
Levy, a native of Philadelphia who migrated to New York and Los Angeles in the golden age of radio, was 84.
He attended Temple University on a scholarship and while there started a college newspaper and produced several campus musicals.
In New York, he became a lead writer for "The Joe Penner Show." Penner's character had first materialized on Rudy Vallee's program, for which Levy also wrote.
For the next 20 years, he worked on radio with Ed Wynn, Ed Gardner--proprietor of "Duffy's Tavern"--Jack Pearl and "The Old Maestro" himself, Ben Bernie.
Levy's most enduring character was not a funny man, but an empty-headed, full-figured woman named Irma.
"My Friend Irma" was created by Cy Howard and went on radio in 1947. It became an overnight success with Marie Wilson in the title role. Howard soon sent for Levy as writer and director.
The series moved to TV in 1952 and ran for two years. A film version released in 1949 introduced two young comics to movie audiences--Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
In 1954, Levy brought the character of Lily Ruskin to TV as a rare mother-in-law who inspired love and affection rather than conflict in her married daughter's home. He based the character portrayed by Spring Byington on the genuine feeling he said he had developed for his wife's mother, although her being touted as a potential bride was an exaggeration.
One of the characters in that long-running show was Pete Porter, a neighbor who couldn't stand his mother-in-law.
Harry Morgan as Pete eventually starred in Levy's 1960-62 spinoff, "Pete and Gladys." Cara Williams played Gladys.
Survivors include his wife, Beatrice, a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.