|Born||August 3, 1924|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||December 24, 1997 (aged 73)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park|
Marilyn Cluny Cohen
James Komack (August 3, 1924 – December 24, 1997) was an American television producer, director, screenwriter, and actor. He is best known for producing several hit television series, including The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Chico and the Man, and Welcome Back, Kotter.
Komack performed in both the film and the original Broadway cast of the musical Damn Yankees. In both productions, he played the role of a baseball player performing the song "(You Gotta Have) Heart". Komack also appeared in Frank Capra's film A Hole in the Head as Julius Manetta, the inept son of Mario (Edward G. Robinson) and Sophie (Thelma Ritter).
Early in his career, Komack worked as a stand-up comedian and was cast in sixteen episodes over three seasons as United States Navy millionaire dentist Harvey Spencer Blair III, in the CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper and Abby Dalton. The second season he began writing some of the scripts. From there he went on to directing, including episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show, Gallant Men, Combat, 77 Sunset Strip, the Lloyd Bridges Show, and received an Emmy nomination for Dr. Kildare.
Komack's first hit of writing was topical night club material. In addition to writing for himself, he sold songs and patter to other performers, notably Eartha Kitt and Robert Clary. He recorded a gold hit record, "The Knickname Song". Komack made a record album of his comedy routine, James Komack at the Waldorf. He also recorded a music album on RCA Victor in 1957 titled Inside Me, under the orchestra direction of Dennis Farnon. In total, he made 8 albums and 14 singles, mostly comedy routines but also some songs.
Also in 1957, he guest starred as “Buck Pierce”, a helpful & kind cowboy who was part of the crew heading west on Wagon Train (S1E14 - “The Julie Gage Story”).
Komack was the guiding force behind several television hits. After directing "Some Tarzans" for TV in Mexico, he returned to Los Angeles in the late 1960s to create The Courtship of Eddie's Father and also appeared as "Uncle Norman" Tinker. He appeared in and created Me and Maxx, whose title character was inspired by and named after his daughter. He also appeared in Get Smart, created Chico and the Man (including directing the "Sammy Steps In" episode with Sammy Davis Jr.) and helped produce Welcome Back, Kotter. Komack is credited with discovering and launching the careers of John Travolta and Freddie Prinze. He was director of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action".
During his career peak years, he lived with his wife Cluny and daughter Maxine in Beverly Hills, where their lifestyle could easily serve as the premise for another TV comedy, "it is like open house 24 hours a day," he described it.
Awards and nominations
|1970||22nd Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||The Courtship of Eddie's Father||Nominated|
|1971||28th Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|1976||33rd Golden Globe Awards||Chico and the Man||Nominated|
|28th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||Welcome Back, Kotter||Nominated|