Gene Reynolds, who co-created the lauded TV series M*A*S*H that centered on an American medical team stationed in South Korea during the Korean War, has died. He was 96.
Reynolds died on Monday of heart failure at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, CNN reports. The news was confirmed in a statement from the Directors Guild of America. Reynolds served as the DGA’s president from 1993 to 1997.
“Gene’s influence on the modern Directors Guild of America was significant and lasting,” DGA President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “During his two terms as President, he dedicated himself to making the Guild more inclusive — broadening the leadership base, encouraging younger members to take leadership positions, strengthening ties between feature directors, pushing the industry to do better on diversity and working to modify DGA agreements so that filmmakers with low budgets could benefit from DGA membership.
“Gene’s commitment to the Guild lasted long after his presidency ended, regularly attending Board and Western Directors Council meetings, and never hesitating to share his thoughts,” Schlamme continued. “He was passionate about this Guild, spirited in his beliefs and dedicated until the end.”
“Gene was President when I became National Executive Director,” DGA’s former National Executive Director Jay D. Roth added in a statement. “He was absolutely committed to revitalizing and modernizing the Guild and laying the groundwork for its growth into the future. He cared deeply about diversity and growing the leadership base of the Guild, and his passion for the DGA never wavered.”
Born on April 4th, 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan and later to Los Angeles, California, where Reynolds began his career as a child actor. He made his big screen debut in the 1934 short, Our Gang. Several film appearances followed and he also had roles on television shows, including The Lone Ranger, Dragnet and I Love Lucy.
Beyond acting, he went on to develop, write, produce and direct a number of award-winning shows. Reynolds co-created the TV series M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart, which was adapted from Robert Altman’s film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Hooker. The series, which ran from 1972-1983, followed an American medical team stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. The popular series, which lasted three times as long as the Korean War, was renowned for its balancing humor alongside being an incisive meditation on the futility of war.
Reynolds later teamed with James L. Brooks and Allan Burns to create Lou Grant, the Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff starring Ed Asner. Both shows won Peabody Awards. His directing credits included stints for My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show and Hogan’s Heroes.
Through the course of his career, Reynolds was nominated for 24 Emmy Awards. He won six of them, including for outstanding series for M*A*S*H and twice for Lou Grant. In 1970, he took home his first Primetime Emmy as a producer for Room 222. In 1993, he won the DGA’s Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award, which honored his service to the Guild and its members.