Jack Burns, one of the original writers for The Muppet Show, has died at the age of 86. The comedian, writer, and actor passed away on Monday, Jan. 27, his manager, Peter Santana, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He had been living in a senior care facility for the last two years and celebrated his 31st year of sobriety in December.
"He has been in senior care for the last two years in good spirits and surrounded by friends and cases of Diet Coke," Santana said in a statement to The Wrap. "He was as sharp as a tack mentally but had not walked for two years. He achieved many great achievements but his most recent was hitting the 31 year sober mark in December. Truly a sweet and talented man."
Burns began his career in the 1960s as one half of a comedy duo with George Carlin
at The Playboy Club in Los Angeles and on The Tonight Show With Jack Paar. In 1963, the comedy duo made a comedy album together titled "Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club," and also had a radio show together at KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas
Following news of his death, Carlin's daughter, Kelly Carlin, paid tribute to the late comic.
"A foundational piece of the Carlin legacy has gone to the big comedy club in the sky," she wrote on Twitter. "Jack was one of the sharpest motherf–ers I knew. He shaped my father's mind in unique ways. RIP Jack Burns."
Burns was most well-known as one of the original writers for The Muppet Show. Writing for the show for three years and on 28 episodes, he returned to the franchise to write 1979's The Muppet Movie with Jerry Juhl, 1985's Muppet Video: Country Music With the Muppets, and 1985's Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook. I
n 1976, he was nominated for two Primetime Emmys, for outstanding comedy-variety or music series and outstanding writing for The Muppets and was nominated for a Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation with The Muppet Movie in 1980.
"We celebrate the life of the great Jack Burns, who was not only one of the original writers on The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie, but also taught Fozzie's writer Gags Beasley how to punch up a punchline," The Muppets paid tribute to Burns. "Not an easy task. Thanks for the laughs, Jack!"0comments
"Some folks suspect we Muppets don't work with a script. Not true," the official account for Kermit the Frog wrote. "We have had many great and funny writers, and one of the greatest and funniest was Jack Burns. You made us smile. You made us laugh. You made us funny. Love you, forever."
Burns' other credits include The Partridge Family, Happy Days, and Getting Together, among many others. In 1977, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live.