Max Shulman

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Maximilian "Max" Shulman (March 14, 1919 – August 28, 1988) was an American writer and humorist best known for his television and short story character Dobie Gillis, as well as for best-selling novels.


Early life and career[edit]

Shulman was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and raised in the city's Selby-Dale neighborhood. As a student at the University of Minnesota, Shulman wrote a column for the Minnesota Daily as well as pieces for Ski-U-Mah, the college humor magazine. His writing humorously exaggerated campus culture.[1] Shortly after Shulman graduated in 1942, an agent from Doubleday persuaded Shulman to send him some clips, which resulted in the campus satire Barefoot Boy With Cheek, a surprise 1943 bestseller.

Later career[edit]

Shulman's works include the novels Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, which was made into a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; The Feather Merchants; The Zebra Derby; Sleep till Noon; and Potatoes are Cheaper.

In 1954 he co-wrote (with Robert Paul Smith) the Broadway play The Tender Trap starring Robert Preston, which was later adapted into a movie starring Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds. He wrote the libretto for the 1968 musical How Now, Dow Jones, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical.

Shulman's collegiate character, Dobie Gillis, was the subject of a series of short stories compiled under the title The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which became the basis for the 1953 movie The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, followed by a CBS television series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-1963).[2] Shulman was a script writer for the series[2] and also wrote the lyrics for the series' theme song (music was composed by Lionel Newman). The same year the series began, Shulman published a Dobie Gillis novel, I Was a Teenage Dwarf (1959). After his initial success with Dobie Gillis in the early 1950s, Shulman syndicated a humor column, "On Campus", to over 350 collegiate newspapers at one point.[citation needed]. He piloted another series for CBS for the 1961 season "Daddy-O", which showed behind-the-scenes of TV sitcom production. It was turned down by CBS.[3]

A later novel, Anyone Got a Match?, satirized both the television and tobacco industries (which was ironic as his "On Campus" column was sponsored by a cigarette company), as well as the South and college football. His last major project was House Calls, which began as a 1978 movie based on one of his stories, and starred Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson; it spun off the 1979-1982 television series of the same name, starring Wayne Rogers and Lynn Redgrave in the leads. Shulman was the head writer.

Shulman was one of the collaborators on a 1954 non-fiction television program Light's Diamond Jubilee, timed to the 75th anniversary of the invention of the light bulb.

His daughter, Martha Rose Shulman, is a cookbook author.[4]

Max Shulman died August 28, 1988, of bone cancer at the age of 69[5] in Los Angeles, California.[2]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Barefoot Boy With Cheek (1943)
  • The Feather Merchants (1944)
  • The Zebra Derby (1946)
  • Max Shulman's Large Economy Size (1948), includes Barefoot Boy with Cheek, The Feather Merchants, The Zebra Derby
  • Sleep Till Noon (1950)
  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1951)
  • Max Shulman's Guided Tour of Campus Humor (1955)
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1956)
  • I Was a Teenage Dwarf (1959)
  • Anyone Got a Match? (1964)
  • Potatoes Are Cheaper (1971)


  1. ^ "Max Shulman. Dig It?". Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  2. ^ a b c "People of 1988: Obituaries", 1989 Britannica Book of the Year, Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1989, p. 109, ISBN 0-85229-504-9
  3. ^ Schneider, Martin (March 4, 2015). "'Daddy-O,' The Incredible Failed TV Pilot That Broke the Fourth Wall 25 Years Before Garry Shandling".
  4. ^ Friedman, Roger (March 13, 2002). "Nash May Talk -- Oscars in Last Leg of Voting". Fox News. Retrieved June 19, 2010.
  5. ^ Barron, James (August 29, 1988). "Obituaries". Max Shulman, Humorist, Is Dead; Chronicler of Postwar Life Was 69. New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-23.

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