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Madelyn Pugh Davis dies at 90; 'I Love Lucy' writer

Madelyn Pugh Davis collaborated with partner Bob Carroll Jr. on the groundbreaking series in the 1950s and continued to work with Lucille Ball over four decades. The pioneering female comedy writer is remembered as a 'class act.'

April 22, 2011|By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times

She majored in journalism at Indiana University in Bloomington. But, unable to land a newspaper job after graduating in 1942, she found work as a staff writer at WIRE, the NBC radio station in Indianapolis, where she wrote commercials and patter for the disc jockeys, among other things.

A year later she headed to Los Angeles and immediately was hired as a staff writer for the NBC radio network. Six months after that, in 1944, she was hired by CBS, which owned radio station KNX and had a large staff of writers.

Davis was the second woman hired on the writing staff — Kathleen Hite was the first. As Davis wrote in "Laughing with Lucy: My Life with America's Leading Lady of Comedy," her 2005 memoir" "No one actually wanted to hire women in 1944," but with so many men away at war, "what else was there?"

During her third year at KNX, she was teamed with Carroll to write a half-hour show about a newlywed couple, "The Couple Next Door."

After working on that show, Davis and Carroll wrote comedy sketches for a half-hour Pacific Network show called "It's a Great Life," starring a young comedian named Steve Allen. They left the Allen show to write for Ball on "My Favorite Husband."

In 1992, Carroll and Davis received the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for achievement in television writing from the Writers Guild of America. And in 2001, the UCLA Film School honored them for lifetime achievement in television writing.

Davis, whose first marriage to producer Quinn Martin ended in divorce, married Dr. Richard Davis, her former college sweetheart, in 1964. He died in 2009.

In addition to her son, Davis is survived by four stepchildren, Brian Davis, Charlotte Davis, Lisa Davis and Ned Davis; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Services will be private.

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