Jack Douglas (writer)

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Jack Douglas (July 17, 1908 - January 31, 1989) was an American comedy writer who wrote for radio, television and a series of humor books, beginning with the bestselling My Brother Was an Only Child (1959).


On radio, he was a writer for Red Skelton, Bob Hope and the situation comedy, Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou (1938-46), in which Riggs switched back and forth from his natural baritone to the voice of a seven-year-old girl.


Continuing to write for Skelton and Hope as he moved into television, Douglas also wrote for Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Woody Allen, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Jack Paar Show, The George Gobel Show and Laugh-In. The producer of Laugh-In, George Schlatter, said, "He saw the world from a different angle than the rest of us. He was not only funny, he was nice."

He was best known for his appearances as a frequent guest on Jack Paar's shows of the late 1950s and early 1960s. On one such appearance, when Douglas was well established as a Paar guest, he was chastised by Paar for holding a stack of file cards with his jokes while talking with Paar. When Paar returned to television in 1973 and was confronted by unexpected low ratings, he had engaged Douglas to contribute monologue material by mail. One week there was no mail from Douglas, but his next package contained a note: "Sorry I didn't send anything last week. I forgot you were on."

Douglas and his third wife Reiko, a Japanese-born singer and comedienne, were also regular guests on shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson. The couple had two sons, Bobby and Timothy. Douglas' first marriage produced a son (Johnny) and a daughter (Marlene), and his second marriage to singer Marion Hutton produced a son, Peter.

Humor books[edit]

By 1959, Douglas' appearances with Paar gave him a huge audience for his humorous memoirs, published by Dutton and Putnam with many mass market paperback editions by Pocket Books and others.

My Brother Was an Only Child, adapted from a book he privately printed in 1947 and sent to 400 of his friends, stayed on the bestseller lists for months in 1959. Some of his books, including Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes (1970), were set in Northern Ontario, where Jack and Reiko Douglas lived for several years. The town of Chinookville in the Northern Ontario books is based on the Ontario city of Sudbury. The book The Neighbors Are Scaring My Wolf (1968) was based on his experiences living in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Douglas won an Emmy in 1954 for best-written comedy material. He died of complications from pneumonia in 1989, at age 80.

Books by Jack Douglas[edit]

  • No Navel to Guide Him (1947)
  • My Brother Was an Only Child (1959)
  • Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver (1960)
  • A Funny Thing Happened to Me on My Way to the Grave (1962)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Hashimoto (1964)
  • The Neighbors Are Scaring My Wolf (1968)
  • Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes (1970)
  • What Do You Hear from Walden Pond? (1971)
  • The Jewish/Japanese Sex and Cookbook, and How to Raise Wolves (1972)
  • Benedict Arnold Slept Here (1975)
  • Going Nuts in Brazil (1977)
  • Rubber Duck (1979)

Personal life[edit]

He was the father of photojournalist Peter Hemming. He and his Japanese-born wife Reiko became popular TV stars on the late-night talk show circuit and remained married for nearly 30 years until his death. They had two children, Robert and Timothy.


External links[edit]