Budd Friedman: The Famous Writer and Director

Budd Friedman, founder of the Improv comedy club, dies at 90

Budd Friedman was a prolific writer and director who specialized in comedy films. His movies have won five Independent Spirit Awards, two Peabody Awards and have been screened at festivals all over the world.

He was born in Detroit, Mich., the second son of the legendary comedian Bob Friedman and his wife, the actress Mildred Harris. The Fricks spent most of their married life in Europe, but they were married in Detroit in 1951, and Budd attended high school in New York and graduated from the University of Michigan.

From 1951-1954, Budd was an advertising art director for the Newhouse company, which was in the process of founding Time magazine. Shortly after the publication of “The Newhouse Plan” in 1954, an executive from Time named Marvin Liebman offered to let him produce radio programs on the company’s network (the first program is a comedy starring Budd’s brother Bob Friedman, and it is referred to as the “Friedmans’ program”). Budd spent the next two years in Europe and during that time he began to write comedy scripts based on his experiences abroad. In 1956 he was offered a job in California at Warner Brothers and he accepted, but after a year he returned to New York and freelanced there and then in the Los Angeles area until 1962.

After leaving Warner Brothers, he was hired to write for the television program Saturday Night Live and he did this for two decades. He also wrote a television comedy series starring Jimmie Walker, The Walker Brothers and they were produced for a single season by Bob Cummings but the series was not a success and Budd and his family moved to New York and he became a writer for the television comedy, Studio One. A year later, he wrote and produced a television program featuring the children of the Marx Brothers and The Muppets called The Muppet Show. That series ran for three seasons before he left.

In 1971, Budd produced the feature films I’m a Cucumber and The Night They Raided Minsky’s, and he also wrote for TV including The Muppet Show and The Electric Company. He continued to produce and direct feature films and he even directed his own solo show, Budd Friedman’s Comedy Time, a one-man comedy show featuring a combination of his own comic material and that of others, including Bob

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