• Was one of a core of legendary writers (along with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon and Woody Allen) discovered by Sid Caesar. (Gelbart wrote not for "Your Show of Shows," but "Caesar's Hour," the Imogene Coca-less follow-up show.)
• Co-wrote the screenplay for "Tootsie" (only one of the best movie comedies ever), and given all the names on that script at one point or another, has received the most credit from those involved for shaping the idea into the movie it became.
• Adapted "M*A*S*H" from hit movie into hit TV show, and ran it in its earliest, funniest seasons.
• Co-wrote the book for the Tony-winning musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," as well as other acclaimed plays and musicals like "Mastergate" and (one of my personal favorites, very underrated) "City of Angels."
• Late in his career, wrote a number of outstanding (and, of course, funny) movies for HBO, including "Barbarians at the Gate" and "Weapons of Mass Distraction."
I asked Ken Levine, who ran the "M*A*S*H" writing staff for several years with partner David Isaacs, and learned so much about comedy working for Gelbart, if he had plans to write any kind of tribute to the man. But Ken's traveling in his job as a Dodgers radio broadcaster, and 9/11 already has bad memories for him, and he understandably isn't up to writing more than the following:
I've lost a dear friend, a mentor, an inspiration, and the writing world has lost Mozart.Rest in peace, Larry. I'm going to see if I can still find my "City of Angels" soundtrack when I get home.