Richard Kennedy Vosburgh (27 August 1929 – 18 April 2007) was an American-born comedy writer and lyricist working chiefly in Britain.
Vosburgh was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He persuaded his father to let him study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London (where he met his future wife, Beryl Roques) and won the Comedy Acting prize. He was soon writing for BBC Radio, starting with scripts for Bernard Braden in 1953.
Often partnering with other writers including Garry Chambers and Barry Cryer he wrote television shows for Ronnie Corbett, David Frost, Roy Hudd, Bobby Davro, Frankie Howerd, Bob Monkhouse, Lenny Henry, Tommy Cooper, Freddie Starr and Bob Hope and material for the radio revival of the Marx Brothers show Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel.
According to legend, he did much of his writing while continuously riding the Circle Line of the London Underground to avoid interruptions. In the late 1960s, he appeared in How To Irritate People and various early episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus. In 1962, he voiced Larry Dart in the children's television show Space Patrol.
As a lyricist, he had a reputation for being meticulous about the use of words and rhymes, and having a huge knowledge of the Broadway classics. He wrote the pastiche A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine with composer Frank Lazarus (1979), Windy City (with Tony Macaulay, based on The Front Page, 1982) and A Saint She Ain’t (with Denis King, 1999).
In an article for the Times in 1982, Jane Ellison calls him 'a compulsive worrier, perfectionist and master of the wisecrack'. In the same article Dick says of himself:
"Television is not the ideal place for a Virgo to work. In fact I am a Virgoan son of a Virgo, which is much much worse. I must be the most nit-picking person ever born - I sat up all night writing a speech for the wedding of one of my daughters. On stage you can see the actors say your lines and you have a better chance to make them better next time. On television you're reduced to clawing the screen."
He wrote many obituaries of comedians and B-movie actors for the Observer and The Times.
According to writer Garry Chambers, "When you were told you were working with such a [difficult] person again, he would say 'Be sure to give him my loathe.'" He also created the radio show of good songs from flop musicals Tunes the Backers Whistled While Jumping Off the Roof.
Obituaries written by Dick Vosburgh
- Arnold Auberbach
- Joyce Blair
- Irving Brecher
- Bernard Bresslaw
- Bob Crosby
- Ted Dicks
- George Fenneman
- Buddy Feyne
- Ken Hoare
- Betty Hutton
- Paul Jerrico
- Leo Killion
- Dean Martin
- Spike Milligan
- Jack Paar
- Don Porter
- Dinah Shore
- Harold Spina