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Phyllis White, 79; Helped Found First TV Writers Union

July 18, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Phyllis White, 79, a founding member of the first television writers union who wrote for popular shows in the 1960s and '70s, died of a stroke July 7 at her home in Venice.

White was born in Pierre, S.D., and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1943.

She began her career as a script writer for SBBM in Chicago, later moving to New York, where she was head writer on the first "Tonight Show."

White won a Peabody Award in 1955 for her work on the documentary series "Adventure" and was twice honored for outstanding scripts by the Writers Guild of America.

In 1950, she helped found the Television Writers of America, the first TV writers union, which was folded into the Writers Guild of America in 1954.

She later was active in the Writers Guild, serving on its board of directors and as vice president during the 1970s.

In collaboration with her husband, Robert White, she wrote for such shows as "The Bold Ones," "Cannon," "Death Valley Days," "Ironside," "Mission Impossible" and "My Favorite Martian."

White spent several years writing for soap operas such as "Love of Life" and "As the World Turns."

She also frequently wrote travel articles for magazines and newspapers and with her husband co-authored the books "Romantic Weekends in San Francisco" and "Hollywood Alive."

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