Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diverticulitis Death: Hong Kong Phooey man Myles Wilder at 77

Ever hear of Billy Wilder? Of course you have. Myles Wilder was his nephew, and is best known for turning out scripts for a load of vintage TV shows including 28 episodes of "McHale's Navy." And you thought that show was the same episode re-enacted 28 times. Or 50. Or 138, actually.

Myles Wilder began his career by scripting his father's movies…that would be director W. Lee Wilder. W. Lee didn't exactly make movies in the same class as Billy Wilder, but he helmed such cult items as Killers from Space, The Snow Creature, Manfish, Fright, Spy in the Sky, Man without a Body and Bluebeard’s Ten Honeymoons. Myles wrote or co-wrote those items. From this beginning, Myles produced his first TV show ("The Adventures of Marco Polo" in 1956) and went on to write and/or produce episodes of "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Doris Day Show," "My Three Sons," "The Flying Nun," "Get Smart," "The Patty Duke Show," "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Brady Bunch," "Addam's Family" "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and "Welcome Back Kotter."

Wilder also worked for Hanna-Barbera and with his long-time co-writer Bill Raynor as story editor, served as Executive Story Consultant on "Hong Kong Phooey," with Scatman Crothers taking the lead voice and Joe E. Ross as Sergeant Flint. Since the show is a bit obscure, using the "Hong Kong Phooey" theme song in tribute seemed a bit more interesting than going with "McHale's Navy."

He quit show biz 1989 and, like retired Los Angeles Dodger Duke Snider, took up a sunny new vocation: avocado grower. Diverticulitis is a tricky disease, and while it isn't always fatal, the odds were not with Mr. Wilder. At least he made good use of the time he had left. While one might wish to donate to a Diverticulitis support group, Wilder's family urged mourners to send their bucks in his memory to the Friends for Pets Foundation in Sun Valley, California.

HONG KONG PHOOEY theme song sung by Scatman Crothers. Instant download, no pop-ups pop-unders or porn ads.

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