I only just learned yesterday that Gene Reynolds (1923-2020) passed away a couple of weeks ago at the age of 96. I knew Reynolds exclusively as a major TV producer and director (especially as one of the prime movers, along with Larry Gelbart, of the TV sitcom version of M*A*S*H) but his background proves to be highly rich and interesting and relevant to the old school show biz themes of this blog.
Reynolds actually started out with Hal Roach as a child actor, appearing in the Our Gang short Washee Ironee and Laurel and Hardy’s March of the Wooden Soldiers, both in 1934. He was essentially a bit player for the next quarter century, with small roles in 80 movies and TV productions, including Captains Courageous (1937), Madame X (1937), Heidi (1937), In Old Chicago (1938), Boys Town (1938), The Blue Bird (1940), a couple of the Andy Hardy movies, The Country Girl (1954), and shows like Dragnet and I Love Lucy, among other things.
In 1957 he shifted gears, becoming one of the creators of the TV western series Tales of Wells Fargo. You can see his IMDB list for his full list of subsequent credits; I’ll just list the biggies. He directed 74 episodes of My Three Sons, 33 of Wendy and Me with George Burns and Connie Stevens, and 34 of Hogan’s Heroes. He was both a producer and director on Room 222 (1969-71), and as we said, one of the executive producers of M*A*S*H (1972-77), as well as the similar Roll-Out (1973), and then Lou Grant (1977-82) and Blossom (1991). He also wrote for many TV shows, including ones he produced and directed for. His last credit was as executive producer for a 2002 M*A*S*H reunion show.
For more on classic comedy please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.