Raymond Siller

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Raymond Siller meeting with President Ronald Reagan and James Baker in the White House Oval Office. 1982

Raymond "Ray" Siller (born April 8, 1939) is an American television writer and political consultant. He was nominated for four Emmy Awards as long-time head writer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He has written for four U.S. presidents and contributed articles to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and USA Today. He lives in New York City.

Early[edit]

Siller was born and raised in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. He attended Brooklyn Prep and Fordham University, wrote for the student newspaper, The Fordham Ram, and was a chief announcer on Fordham’s FM station, WFUV. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960.

Career[edit]

His professional career began in New York as an ABC Television Network page, and he was later employed as a radio director at ABC’s flagship rock station, WABC.[1] He subsequently gained a staff director position at the ABC Radio Network, working with Charles Osgood, Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, and Howard Cosell.

Siller moved over to ABC-TV in 1968 as an associate director on The Dick Cavett Show where he transitioned to Cavett’s writing staff.[2]

During the 1970 congressional elections, President Richard M. Nixon[3] invited Siller to be a consultant at the White House. He assumed that post and at the same time consulted for Vice President Spiro Agnew.[4] On the wedding day of Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, attended by both Agnew and comedian Bob Hope, Agnew appeared in Los Angeles at an Army Ball honoring Hope. In his introduction to Hope, Agnew peppered his speech with many of Siller’s one-liners. They included jokes about the wedding. Hope, following Agnew on the dais, had to cross out from his own monologue the topical references that Agnew had just delivered. Hope asked his nephew, Peter Malatesta, at the time Agnew’s aide, “Who the hell wrote those jokes?” When Malatesta informed him it was Ray Siller, Hope said, “Tell him he’s hired”.[5]

The following year, Siller relocated to California to begin a three year stint at NBC Burbank on Hope’s writing staff for The Bob Hope Specials.[6] In 1972, he accompanied Hope on his final Christmas tour to Vietnam.[7]

In 1974, Siller left Hope to write for another NBC program, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He remained with Carson for fifteen years, the last twelve of those as Carson’s head writer.

Siller has consulted for four Presidents: Richard M Nixon,[8]Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush,[9] and George W. Bush.[10] This included writing Gridiron,[11][12] Alfalfa Club,[13] Radio-TV Correspondents, White House Correspondents, and Al Smith[11] dinners. He contributed material for campaigns and televised debates. He’s written for Vice President Agnew, 1996 Presidential nominee, Senator Bob Dole, and California Governor George Deukmejian. He consulted for New York Governor, and later Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller.[14]

Television credits[edit]

The Dick Cavett Show

The Bob Hope Specials

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Laverne and Shirley

Welcome Back, Kotter[15]

Emmy nominations[edit]

1980-81: Head Writer, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program)

1985-86: Head Writer, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program)

1987: Head Writer, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program)

1988: Head Writer, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program)

Honors[edit]

1977-78: Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honors Ray Siller, Head Writer, for contributions to the Emmy Award-winning program, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Special Classification of Outstanding Program Achievement.

1972: The Department of Defense Certificate of Esteem for Patriotic Service in providing Entertainment to Members of the Armed Forces in the Pacific.

1972: Eighth Air Force Certificate of Appreciation In Special Recognition for the Outstanding Contribution to the Morale and Holiday Spirit of Military Personnel at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam as a Member of The 1972 Bob Hope Christmas Show.

1968-1969 The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Honors Raymond Siller for contributions to the Television Academy Award-winning program "The Dick Cavett Show" Chosen for Outstanding Achievement In Daytime Programming.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Buxton, Frank; Bill Owen (1966). Radio's Golden Age: The Programs and the Personalities. Easton Valley Press. pp. v. ISBN 1-299-55485-7. 
  2. ^ "The Paley Center for Media". Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  3. ^ Nixon, Richard. "Presidential Daily Diary". pp. 10–16–30 1970. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  4. ^ Agnew, Spiro T. "Spiro T. Agnew Papers". Series: 3.14 Vice President of the United States. Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. hdl:1903.1/1744. 
  5. ^ Malatesta, Peter (1982). Party Politics. Prentice-Hall. p. 37. ISBN 9780136525523. 
  6. ^ "Library of Congress: Bob Hope and American Variety". Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  7. ^ "Internet Movie Data Base". Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  8. ^ White House Office of Records. "1981=1989". Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  9. ^ Bush, George. All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-684-83958-5. 
  10. ^ "CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY ON COMEDY AND POLITICIANS". ANCHORS: TERRY GROSS. November 1, 2000. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  11. ^ a b ANDERSEN;, KURT; HAYS COREY (August 15, 1983). "Working Hard for the Last Laugh". Time Inc. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  12. ^ Donnie Radcliffe, Robin Groom, Washington Post Staff Writers (March 30, 1992). "The Prez's Caped Caper; As 'Tarmac the Magnificent,' Bush Wows the Gridiron Crowd, Donnie Radcliffe, Robin Groom". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  13. ^ Conroy, Sarah Booth (January 30, 1989). "Bentsen & Quayle, Trading Graces;At the Alfalfa Club". The Washington Post. pp. STYLE; PAGE B1. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  14. ^ Persico, Joseph (1982). The Imperial Rockefeller. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 268. ISBN 0-671-25418-9. 
  15. ^ Eisner, Joel; Krinsky (1984). Television Comedy Series: An Episode Guide to 153 TV Sitcoms in SyndicationM. McFarland. p. 770. ISBN 9780899500881.