Gene Reynolds, an Architect of ‘M*A*S*H,’ Is Dead at 96

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He appeared in movies with other child and teenage stars, including Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. He set aside his film career when World War II broke out, enlisting in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and serving on ships including the destroyer-minesweeper the Zane.

Herman Wouk was the senior watch officer,” Mr. Reynolds recalled in “Growing Up on the Set,” “and he would get up every morning very early and would write.” In 1951, of course, Wouk published his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Caine Mutiny,” which drew on his experiences on that ship.

After the war ended in 1945 Mr. Reynolds earned a degree in history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and resumed acting. He landed few leading roles, though, and became frustrated with his career progress. Soon he was directing episodes of some of the most popular series of the 1960s, including “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “My Three Sons.”

Among his biggest television successes before “M*A*S*H” was “Room 222,” a comedy-drama about a black teacher, for which Mr. Reynolds served as executive producer. It ran for more than 100 episodes and tackled subjects including prejudice, drugs and dropouts.

“It was a tumultuous time, and I think we took advantage of it,” he said in an oral history for the Television Academy Foundation, “but unfortunately ABC looked at numbers and said, ‘This could be funnier.’” He was shown the door, right when Mr. Self was looking for someone to bring “M*A*S*H” to television.

Mr. Reynolds’s first marriage, to Bonnie Jones, an actress, ended in divorce. He and his wife, also an actress, married in 1979 and lived in Los Angeles. In addition to her, he is survived by a son, Andrew.


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