Norman Steinberg Dead: Blazing Saddles Screenwriter Was 83

Norman Steinberg, screenwriter of films including “Blazing Saddles” “My Favorite Year” died March 15. He was 83.

His other credits include the film “Johnny Dangerously,” the TV movie “Free to Be…You and Me,” and the TV show “Doctor, Doctor.”

Born in Brooklyn, Steinberg went to college at the U. of Maryland and law school at the U. of Pittsburgh and began practicing law in Manhattan.

He disliked being a lawyer, his family said, and met Mel Brooks when he would stop for coffee at Chock Full o’ Nuts. After much badgering from Steinberg, Brooks told him to try writing a script for “Get Smart.” When Brooks told him the script was funny, he quit his job at the law firm the same day.

He started out writing for the music magazine Cash Box, then wrote a political humor album for David Frye. After moving to Los Angeles, he started writing for the “Flip Wilson Show,” partnering with George Carlin, which brought the writers an Emmy.

Brooks later brought Steinberg on along with Richard Pryor to work on a draft by Andrew Bergman of a comic Western that became “Blazing Saddles.”

Steinberg created the master’s program in television writing at Long Island University in Brooklyn, called the TV Writers Studio, which he led for more than a decade.

He is survived by his wife, Serine Hastings; his son, Nik, and daughter, Daphne; daughter-in-law, Lilly, and son-in-law, Andreas; grandchildren, Oona, June, and Gus; sister, Joan Minsky; step-children Freja and Alex, their partners Danny and Caroline, and their children, Llewyn and Arthur; and his former wife and mother of his two children, Bonnie Strock.

A memorial service will be held in the spring in New York.

Memorial gifts in his name may be made to The Norman Steinberg Scholarship Fund, c/o Kmur Hardeman, Long Island University, TV Writers Studio, Media Arts Department, 1 University Plaza, HC 212, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

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