Gene Perret, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ Writer and ‘Three’s Company’ Producer, Dies at 85

The Emmy winner also penned jokes for Bob Hope for nearly three decades

Gene Perret, "The Carol Burnett Show" writer and Emmy winner
Courtesy of the Perret family

Gene Perret, a three-time Emmy-winning writer on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Three’s Company” producer, died on Nov. 15 at the age of 85 in his Westlake Village, California, home.

Perret died of liver failure, his daughter Linda said, per The Hollywood Reporter. In a separate Facebook post on Nov. 15, she wrote, “This is a post I wished I never had to write. There are so many words to describe Gene Perret — kind, talented, gracious, giving, loving, fun and not to be forgotten, funny. To many of you he was a mentor, a job he took very seriously and was very proud of, but to me he was the best Dad a girl could ask for. Today, we said good-bye to him and I’m heartbroken. I’m going to miss him but will love him forever and ever. RIP, Dad, you deserve it!”

During his half-century-long career, Perret wrote for several variety TV series, including “The Jim Nabors Hour,” sketch comedy show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” “The Tim Conway Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” for which he also won a Writers Guild Award. His other writing credits in comedic television include “Mama’s Family,” “All In the Family” and “Welcome Back, Cotter.” However, his longest collaboration was the near three-decade partnership he held with his self-described comedy idol, Bob Hope, for whom he eventually became head writer. As a writer on Hope’s TV specials and USO Christmas tours, he frequently accompanied the famed comedian on many of his global trips to entertain troops prior to his retirement ahead of the turn of the century.

In addition to writing, Perret was a producer on “The Tim Conway Show,” “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “Three’s Company,” starring John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. A prodigious comedian, the South Philadelphia native also wrote dozens of books, including “Comedy Writing Step by Step” and “The Comedy Writing Workbook,” which continue to be used as guidelines in comedic writing. He would also host writing workshops for young comedians and gave professional talks related to the field.

In 1956, Perret began working as an electrical engineer at General Electric, where he developed his skills and began writing one-liners for local comics like Slappy White. A friend introduced him to stand-up Phyllis Diller, who later hired him and encouraged him to become a full-time writer. In 1969, he moved his family to California where he landed his first job as a writer in television. According to his family, he often said, “If you saw the kind of engineer I was, you’d know that going into comedy was a natural progression.”

Gene is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joanne (whom he met in kindergarten), and his four children Joe, Terry (Andy) Garcia, Carole (Chris) Maurer, and Linda, as well as his six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.