The man who helped break MASH to the small screen has passed away. Gene Reynolds, who wrote, directed and produced the long-running series, passed away at his home in Burbank, California, at the age of 96. His death was reported by Variety after it was confirmed by the Directors Guild of America, where Reynolds served as president from 1993-1997.
Reynolds teamed up with Larry Gelbart to develop the Korean War-set black comedy as a series, after the massive success of Robert Altman's 1970 feature film of the same name. The series ran on CBS for 11 years, longer than the Korean War itself, and racked up numerous awards during its run, including an Oustanding Series Emmy in 1974 as well as a Peabody the following year.
It aired from 1972 until 1983 and remained in the top 10 the entire time. Its final episode was nothing short of monumental, and at the time was the most-watched program in history, boasting more than 50 million viewers. Reynolds left the series in 1977, though he continued to work as a consultant.
The same year he left MASH, Reynolds also helped create the series Lou Grant, a spinoff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, centering on Ed Asner's character, who worked as a newspaper editor. The series ran from 1977 to 1982, and also won its fair share of awards, including 13 Primetime Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Peabody as well as a pair of Humanitas Prizes.
His last credit was as the executive producer of MASH: The 30th Anniversary Reunion, which aired back in 2002. Across his significant career, Reynolds earned a total of 24 Primetime Emmy nominations for his work, winning a total of six.
The current president of the Directors Guild, Thomas Schlamme, issued a statement on Reynolds' passing, calling his influence "significant and lasting." said Schlamme.
"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. He was passionate about this Guild, spirited in his beliefs and dedicated until the end."
National Executive Director Jay D. Roth added to Schlamme's sentiment, calling Reynolds "absolutely committed to revitalizing and modernizing the Guild and laying the groundwork for its growth into the future." He added that the multi-hyphenate "cared deeply about diversity and growing the leadership base of the Guild, and his passion for the DGA never wavered."