Gerald Gardner – RIP

Screenwriter, gag writer, humorist, author Gerald Gardner has passed away.

Gerald Clifford Gardner
July 22*, 1929 – October 11, 2020
*the IMDb has June 15, 1929 as birthdate

The notice of death from The Monkees Film and TV Vault Facebook page:

From his son Lindsey Gardner – Gerald Clifford Gardner, legendary screenwriter … died peacefully yesterday evening at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, several weeks after the appearance of an aggressive cancer that spread to his lungs. He was 91.

Gerald had a long career in television:

Gerald Gardner is an American television writer most known for comedy. Not much is known about his career which spans two decades. He wrote episodes for “Gilligan’s Island, “The Monkees,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Get Smart,” “Bewitched,” “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir,” “The Bill Cosby Show,” “Happy Days,” “Love, American Style,” “What’s Happening!!” and “Sledge Hammer!” He also wrote the movies, “How to Break Up a Happy Divorce” and “The World’s Greatest Athlete.” He won the “Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment” award in 1964 and 1965.

Gerald’s rise to fame came with his 1962 Who’s In Charge Here? The book inserted gag word balloons into photos of political figures. While the idea didn’t originate with Gardner, the book attained best-seller status and spawned a flood of like books and magazines in the 1960s.

Of course Gerald rode that wave for a few decades while also getting the name recognition to go the Hollywood route.

Above is a page from MAD #73 (1962) with excerpts from Who's In Charge Here?

Gerald’s gags and captions were of a gentle nature, not the vitriolic stuff of today’s comedy. And he was a John Kennedy admirer (he accepted an invitation to the Kennedy White House). His amiable gag writing was perfect for a project he collaborated with Frank Johnson for publisher Gold Medal.


The early 1963 mass market paperback was popular enough to interest a syndicate, and by late 1963 a daily panel was offered to newspapers. Unfortunately the panel about “the little girl in the big white house” debuted on November 4, 1963. Less than three weeks later President Kennedy was assassinated putting an end to the panel.

A month before Miss Caroline the panel appeared and months after Miss Caroline the book had hit the shelves Gerald wrote a column about the success of paperback “comic books.”

Miss Caroline was Gerald’s only entry in the comic world. He continued with his photo captioning, and became successful writing TV shows and movies.

Now he knows who’s in charge out there?


3 thoughts on “Gerald Gardner – RIP

  1. At least Gerald’s career went better than Vaughn Meader’s.

    Best case scenario, “Miss Caroline” would’ve lasted five years. Time limit in any case.

  2. As a minor clarification: he wrote for Happy Days…. but not the show you’re thinking of. There was a variety show of the same name in the summer of 1970, which is what he wrote for.

    (I have just re-issued Miss Caroline; I had put out an edition briefly about 10 years ago, but this time I’ve added the four original panels that ran in the newspapers; most of the panels from the brief newspaper run were reprints from the paperback.)

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