All in the Family TV show Wiki
Mel Tolkin
Mel Tolkin Emmy Legends interview
Mel Tolkin in Archive of American Televison interview
Personal Information
Also known as: Samuel Tolchinsky
Born: August 3, 1913
Birthplace: Near Odessa, Ukraine
Died November 26, 2007(2007-11-26) (aged 94)
Deathplace: Century City, California, U.S.
Career/Family Information
Television comedy writer
Years active: 1940s to 1980s
known for:
work on various TV shows, incl. Your Show of Shows aand All in the Family
Awards won: Emmy Award
Humanitas Prize
Peabody Award
Four Writers Guild of America Awards
Family Information
Series connection
Series involved with: All in the Family
Archie Bunker's Place
with series:
Writer/Story Editor/Program Consultant
Episodes involved with: AITF: writer 34 episodes, story editor, 46 episodes, program consultant, 24 episodes
Archie Bunker's Place: writer/teleplay, 2 episodes, executive story editor, 3 episodes
Small flag infobox wordmark

Mel Tolkin (born Shmuel Tolchinsky,[1] August 3, 1913 - November 26, 2007) was a comedy television writer.


Mel is best known as the head writer of Your Show of Shows. There he presided over a staff that at times included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Danny Simon. The writers' room inspired the film My Favorite Year (1982), produced by Brooks, and the Broadway play Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993), written by Neil Simon.

Tolkin, who won an Emmy Award and every other major prize for television writing, was the father of screenwriter-novelist Michael Tolkin and TV writer-director Stephen Tolkin.

He wrote 34 episodes of All in the Family (also serving as a story editor for 46 episodes, and a program consultant in 24 episodes) and two episodes of Archie Bunker's Place, also serving as an executive story editor for three.

Your Show of Shows[]

Considered by TV historians as a classic of the medium,[2][3] with Ronald C. Simon, television curator of The Paley Center for Media, calling it "a pinnacle of television history",[4] the series presented 90 minutes of comedy live each week for 39 weeks a year, for a total of 160 shows airing February 25, 1950, to June 5, 1954.[4] From its sixth-floor office on West 56th Street in Manhattan,[4] writers including Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart, Lucille Kallen and head writer[5] Tolkin, famously fought, argued, quipped, crafted, "paced, muttered, swore, occasionally typed and more than occasionally threw things: crumpled paper cups, cigars (lighted) and much else. The acoustical-tile ceiling was fringed with pencils, which had been flung aloft in a rage and stuck fast; Mr. Tolkin once counted 39 of them suspended there".[1]

The series quickly settled into a starring quartet of Caesar, Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris. Many of its sketches became classics that found a new audience beginning in 1973, when the show's producer-director, Max Liebman, compiled the theatrical film release 10 From Your Show of Shows. Tolkin continued writing on an acclaimed successor series, Caesar's Hour, which ran September 27, 1954 through 1957. He also wrote the theme song for Your Show of Shows, "Stars Over Broadway".[1]


Tolkin died at his home in Century City, CA in 2007 at the age of 94. [1]


The Your Show of Shows writers' room inspired the movie My Favorite Year (1982),[5] produced by Brooks, and the Broadway play Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993),[5] written by Neil Simon.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Fox, Margalit. "Mel Tolkin, Lead Writer for 'Show of Shows,' Dies at 94", The New York Times (, November 27, 2007. 
  2. Williams, Mark (n.d.). Sid Caesar. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010.
  3. Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting. The Jewish Museum (New York) (2003). Archived from the original on June 27, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Collins, Glenn. "Mother Lode of TV Comedy Is Found in Forgotten Closet", The New York Times (, November 14, 2000. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Writer Mel Tolkin Dies at 94", Associated Press (AP) via, November 27, 2007.  Additional WebCitation archive.

External Links[]