Davis’ death was confirmed Saturday by his daughter, Samantha Davis-Friedman. Survivors also include his wife of many decades, “Rhoda” star Julie Kavner, now best known as the voice of Marge Simpson.
Davis was known for his work in the MTM Television stable. He’s written for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda,” and helped create two Hall of Fame sitcoms. After retiring from writing in 1979, Davis worked as a consultant on television and film projects, including the ABC television series “Phenom” and rated feature films such as 1987’s “Broadcast News” and “Terms of Endearment”, winner of an Oscar in 1983.
Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Davis made his television debut as a script supervisor on such early 1960s comedies as “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and the “Gilligan’s Island” pilot. He rose through the ranks in the mid-1960s to associate producer on such series as “My Mother the Car” (often cited as the pinnacle of silly ’60s sitcoms) and the short-lived but highly influential “He and She”. from 1967. romantic comedy starring Richard Benjamin and Paul Prentiss.
Davis shot footage highlighting Chicago’s post-modernist building boom of the early 1970s for the memorable title sequence of “The Bob Newhart Show.” He also filmed the memorable 1974 episode “Rhoda’s Wedding” of the “Mary Tyler Moore” spin-off “Rhoda,” which featured Valerie Harper walking around New York in a wedding dress.
Davis co-created “Bob Newhart Show” for Newhart, who was then an established comedic voice. The series aired on CBS from 1972 to 1978. Davis followed this with “Taxi” which aired from 1978 to 1983 (first on ABC and in its final season on NBC). The acclaimed series was co-created by Davis with fellow MTM writers/producers/directors James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger.
In addition to Kavner and Davis-Friedman, Davis’ survivors include his daughter Abigail Davis Smith, his son-in-law Steve Smith; and five grandsons, Joshua Friedman, Jacob Friedman, Aden Smith, Asher Smith and Elijah Smith.