While we are on the subject of Dobie Gillis, we must touch upon his creator, the brilliant writer Max Shulman.
Shulman, on whose novels such as The Tender Trap and Rally ‘Round the Flag Boys inspired movies with Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman, also influenced modern comic minds such as Woody Allen and Bob Newhart.
While we have been trying to remount Dobie Gillis for a modern audience, we have also sought to have Max Shulman’s books reprinted, as well. Unfortunately, he has been forgotten by this generation. We optioned his works from the Shulman estate( his sons and daughter).
Here is Max Shulman’s obit from The NY Times that gives a good biographical sketch of the humorist.
By JAMES BARRON, Published: August 29, 1988
Max Shulman, a novelist, playwright and humorist who created the Dobie Gillis character and steered him through four seasons on prime-time television, died of bone cancer yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 69 years old.
Mr. Shulman used a mock-serious tone in novels like ”Rally Round the Flag, Boys,” in plays like ”The Tender Trap” and in short stories that could be as light as the foam on a televised glass of beer. He filled his works with characters such as academicians who, he said, wore tweeds ”so luxurious that there was a covey of grouse in the back pleats” and World War II veterans who, when challenged about their war records, declared proudly that they had been guides at the Pentagon.
”I am squat and moonfaced,” he said once. ”I write all kinds of stuff. In fact, I write nearly everything except radio scripts. That is because comedians go around talking about ‘my writers,’ like ‘my neckties’ or ‘my ulcers.’ ” ‘Life Was Bitter and I Was Not’
Mr. Shulman once said he was good at humor because ”life was bitter and I was not.”
”All around me was poverty and sordidness,” he said. ”But I refused to see it that way. By turning it into jokes, I made it bearable.”
Mr. Shulman was born in St. Paul on March 14, 1919, the son of a Russian-born house painter. He started scrawling stories and verses at age 4, and shortly before he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1942, a Doubleday editor on a cross-country talent hunt read Mr. Shulman’s college columns.
The editor asked Mr. Shulman if he wanted to do a book. He did. It turned out to be a best-seller, ”Barefoot Boy With Cheek,” which established Mr. Shulman as a chronicler and muckraker of the frivolous in institutions of higher learning. Wrote Two Novels in Uniform
As a sergeant during World War II, he was assigned to do some not very funny writing for the Army Air Corps. On his own time while in uniform, he finished two novels, ”The Feather Merchants” and ”The Zebra Derby,” published after the war.
”The Zebra Derby” was a satirical look at the plastic world of postwar America, the anxious efforts of civilians to cope with returning veterans and the anxious efforts of returning veterans to cope with the anxious civilians.
He rewrote ”Barefoot Boy With Cheek” for Broadway in 1947, and later wrote ”Sleep Till Noon,” about a cafeteria busboy’s life after he marries a rich girl.
The germ of the Dobie Gillis series was ”The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” published in 1951. It centered around a satirical but callow protagonist who craved the sight of a girl – any girl. One reviewer described as Dobie as ”one-third Casanova, one-third Henry Aldrich and one-third one of Mr. Wodehouse’s poodles.” Of Life in Connecticut
In 1955 ”The Tender Trap,” a play about the pitfalls of marriage that he wrote with Robert Paul Smith, had its Broadway debut. It was later made into a film starring Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds.
His 1957 novel ”Rally Round the Flag, Boys,” was about the gray-flannel commuting country east of Stamford, Conn., and what happens when the Army announces plans to build a guided missile silo to protect Bridgeport.
It was territory that Mr. Shulman knew well. For years he worked in an office in Westport, Conn., to take his mind off the distractions of his home there. He once asked: ”How can you concentrate on how the boy gets the girl when your mortgage hangs directly over your typewriter?”
Mr. Shulman is survived by his wife, Mary; three sons, Daniel of Minneapolis, Max of Manhattan, and Peter, of Van Nuys, Calif.; two daughters, Martha, of London, and Melody, of Manhattan; seven grandchildren, and a sister, Esther Feldman, of St. Paul