Before Larry David, before Louis C.K., before Ray Romano, there was the true Golden Age of television comedy, an era of brilliant and landmark programming that dominated the dial from the 50’s to the 70’s. Bill Persky, the five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, director and producer of over 300 TV shows and films was at the center of that special time in TV history.
Along the way, he was responsible for some of the most successful and acclaimed sitcoms of all time, including the classics The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl and Kate & Allie. Persky blazed a trail through television during a time of tremendous social upheaval, when TV was still discovering its power to influence and move audiences.
To this day, Persky’s groundbreaking female characters, such as That Girl’s Ann Marie, remain pop culture icons. In his memoir, My Life is a Situation Comedy, Bill shares his tales of a life well lived and vividly recollected. Persky’s touching, often hilarious and occasionally alarming backstage portrayal is one of triumphs and disappointments, celebrity and calamity, romances and breakups. “I attempted to make things right and maintain a semblance of dignity,” he writes, “while constantly slipping on the banana peels of life.”
Lucky for us, many of those slip ups wound up as fodder for the TV episodes we came to know and love so well. My Life is a Situation Comedy is populated by the larger than life legends and one-of-a-kind characters that figured so prominently in Persky’s world. From his work with Carl Reiner on The Dick Van Dyke Show, to a surreal six weeks in London with the mythic Orson Welles, Persky knew them all and somehow lived to tell the tale.
Among the marquee names that sparkled brightly in Persky’s universe are Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby, Sid Caesar, Steve Allen, Goldie Hawn, Peter Sellers, Susan St. James, Jane Curtin, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Tim Conway, Andy Williams, Cary Grant and The Smothers Brothers.
From the Foreword:
In the following pages, Billy Persky writes about his life and career and gives me far too much credit for his success. I am proud of the fact that I have had a hand in his career, and for the past 50 years, his situation comedy life. I once described Billy as always looking for the world’s greatest burger – and constantly finding it. His great weakness is his boundless enthusiasm, and I hope he never loses it. I hope you have as much fun reading what follows as I did.
— Carl Reiner
“Bill Persky’s writing is exactly what you would expect from one
of the most accomplished comedy writers in show
“From his auspicious start producing infomercials to the sitcoms
we all love which earned him five Emmys, Billy takes a hilarious
look at success, failure, triumph, divorce, children, marriage, and
even death with heart, soul and humor. Billy is such a descriptive
storyteller, I feel like I was there! You will too! Instructions for a
good time: Read Bill Persky’s book. Laugh and repeat.”
— Kelly Ripa
“Billy Persky’s life has been one long and beautiful love-fest — he
loves writing, he loves women, and he loves laughter — and this
marvelous memoir captures every touching and funny step along
that journey. I read it with tears in my eyes and a warm feeling in
my heart. You will, too.”
— Marlo Thomas
“Bill Persky guided me through the wonderful world of half hour
comedy, keeping me laughing and well fed along the way. He’ll
make you feel happy and well fed too. He’s a wonderful story
— Jane Curtin
“MY LIFE IS A SITUATION COMEDY is a funny, wonderful
primer on a life lived well, equal parts love and humor. I am just
thrilled that as Kate in KATE AND ALLIE that I got to be a
“situation” in Billy’s comedy.”
— Susan Saint James
“Bill Persky is the man behind some of my all-time favorite TV
shows. He’s also hilarious, and appreciates women. That’s my
kind of guy – and his book is full of my kind of stories, hilarious!”
— Andy Cohen