(NEXSTAR) – He won several Emmys. He was nominated for an Academy Award. And he also played a role in popularizing Cap’n Crunch for generations of kids cutting the grain.
The late Alan Burns is perhaps best known as the co-creator of sitcoms such as “My Mother in the Car” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, but before that, he was a young writer and animator working for producer Jay Ward. Were. Animated series like “Crusader Rabbit” and “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”.
In 1962, Burns was working at Jay Ward Productions when he received a call from Ward, who was on leave. Ward had forgotten that he had scheduled a meeting with some Chicago-based advertising executives working for Quaker Oats, who were looking to build a campaign around a new cereal. Ward tells Burns to stab him, but not before trying some cereal, which Ward had kept in a bag in his office.
Burns said in a 2004 interview with the Television Academy, “I tasted it, and … it felt like it was going to rip my mouth out, it was so crunchy.” “And I called Jay [Ward] Back and I said, ‘I think I’ve got it’ [tagline]: it is not, “it remains crunchy even in milk” – it would be, “it remains crunchy even in hydrochloric acid.” This stuff is going to tear the mouths of kids across America.'”
Ward nonetheless asked Burns to “whip something together” over the next few days, so he created a “Horatio Hornblower-figure” called “Cap’n Crunch”, as well as supporting characters for television commercials or potential cartoons. Created a group of series.
Burns took the idea to advertising executives, who apparently thought it was fun, before leaving for meetings with other animation houses, including Hanna-Barbera. But about a month later, Burns learned that Jay Ward Productions had successfully sold the idea to Quaker Oats.
Burns also earned himself a bonus, although it was nowhere near the “millions” he estimated his creation had earned for Quaker Oats.
“I got a thousand dollars to make this thing. That was it,” he said.
Burns probably wasn’t angry for very long. He and Chris Hayward, a fellow writer at Jay Ward Productions, pitched an idea for a half-hour sitcom (loosely inspired by the Addams Family cartoon in The New Yorker), which became “The Munsters”. Within a few years, he also co-produced “My Mother the Car” and later became a writer and story advisor on “Get Smart”.
But perhaps Burns’ biggest hit was “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which he played with James L. Created with Brooks. The show aired for seven seasons and spawned three spin-offs — “Rhoda,” “Phyllis” and “Lou Grant” — all of which were written by Burns. He was also the executive producer of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant,” among other popular shows listed in his IMDb credits.
Over the years, Burns won several Emmy Awards, mostly for writing and producing “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, but also for “He and She”, a comedy series starring Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin, for which she worked as a late wrote. 60s. He later earned an Academy Award nomination for co-writing 1979’s “A Little Romance” starring Laurence Olivier.
Burns passed away in January 2021, leaving behind a work that has entertained generations of audiences, young and old.
And if he actually encouraged some kids to “bite” their mouths on some super-crunchy cereal along the way, so be it.