Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 and David & Lynn Angell

I re-post this every year on this date.
9/11 affected us all, profoundly and in many cases personally. Two of my dear friends were on flight 11. David and Lynn Angell. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of them, missed them, and not felt grateful that they were in my life.
David and I worked together on CHEERS, WINGS, and FRASIER (the latter two he co-created). We used to call him the “dean”. In his quiet way he was the one we always looked to for final approval of a line or a story direction. He brought a warmth and humanity to his writing that hopefully rubbed off on the rest of us “schickmeisters”. And he could be funny – sneaky funny. During long rewrite sessions he tended to be quiet. Maybe two or three times a night he’d pitch a joke – but they were always the funniest jokes of the script.

For those of you hoping to become comedy writers yourselves, let David Angell be your inspiration. Before breaking in he worked in the U.S. Army, the Pentagon, an insurance firm, an engineering company, and then when he finally moved out to L.A. he did “virtually every temp job known to man” for five years. Sometimes even the greatest talents take awhile to be recognized.

I first met David the first season of CHEERS. He came in to pitch some stories. He had been recommended after writing a good NEWHART episode. This shy quiet man who looked more like a quantum physics professor than a comedy writer, slinked into the room, mumbled through his story pitches, and we all thought, “is this the right guy? He sure doesn’t seem funny.” Still, he was given an assignment (“Pick a con…any con”) and when the script came back everyone was just blown away. He was quickly given a second assignment (“Someone single, someone blue”) and that draft came back even better. I think the first order of business for the next season was to hire David Angell on staff.

After 9/11, David’s partners Peter Casey & David Lee called me and my partner into their office. There was a FRASIER script David Angell was about to write. (It was the one where Lilith’s brother arrived in a wheelchair and became an evangelist. Michael Keaton played the part.) Peter & David asked if we would write it and for me that was a greater honor than even winning an Emmy.

David’s wife, Lynn, was also an inspiration. She devoted her life to helping others – tirelessly working on creating a children’s library and a center that serves abused children.

My heart goes out to their families. To all of the families.

I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

So tragic, so senseless, and even eleven years later, so inconceivable.

31 comments:

PBC said...

Thanks for re-posting it. I had forgotten the Cheers family had a personal loss that day.

VincentS said...

And those of us who have enjoyed his work will always be greatful for his time on this earth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ken


Pam aka sisterzip

Gloria Angell said...

I always noticed his name in the credits of his shows because I share his last name, which is somewhat uncommon. Not related, but the loss felt more personal because of that.

ScottyB said...

Ken: And well you should post this every 9/11 for as long as you shall live. Not just because of the senseless and tragedy of it all, but as a reminder to all of us that some of the most gifted, generous, and loving people we'll ever meet in our lifetimes often aren't who we think they are at first -- how how wrong we can be in ways that end up enriching us in ways we'd never imagine.

LVbearAM1 said...

Thank you for reposting your wonderful tribut to David and Lynn Angell. In September 2001, I had planned a trip to Los Angeles after obtaining tickets to see a filming of "Frasier." Naturally, the 9/11 tragedy hit me hard as a reporter--and personally as well. I was going to cancel my trip, but my friends urged me to go ahead with it, noting--correctly--life had to go on.
As it turned out, it was the first "Frasier" episode shot since David Angell died. And after a nice tribute to him, the cast and crew peformed brilliantly. (It was "The Return of Martin Crane" episode that originally aired 11/9/2001.) And as it turned out, it was co-written by David Angell.
I'm so glad I made the trip.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this again. He even looked like a nice man. Julie

Courtney said...

Thanks for the post. I was hoping to read something like this today. The world is poorer for not having these people in it...

RCP said...

This is a fine and moving tribute, Ken.

I was living in NYC at the time and had the day off from work. I remember turning on the television (muted) and, half-awake, seeing one of the towers ablaze and thinking it was a special effect from maybe a Bruce Willis film. The next second my Mom called and that was the last time calls could get through for the rest of the day.

Other memories that always return: flyers at bus stops and subway stations with photos of the missing; people hugging and weeping; our entire office told to go home at 10:00 a.m. the next morning because we were all in shock; and the way that, albeit briefly, everyone seemed to pull together.

Sally Reeder said...

This will always be a tough day for us. Thanks, Ken, for the post.

--Sally Reeder

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, I know you've posted on David every year on this date, and I never tire of reading it over again.

Georgia Ratzenberger once told me about David's early struggles to break into the business and how he at one point was even thinking of going back to Rhode island, but decided not to give up and stayed in LA another three months. In that time, he won the CHEERS assignment.

In 1992 when he was running WINGS, I sent him a query letter indicating I had some story ideas I'd like to pitch. Two days later there was a message on my answering machine from his assistant Suzanne saying David had read my letter and was inviting me to submit a spec to Dave Hackel, who was coordinating incoming specs for the show that year -- and though nothing ever came of it, I really appreciated the fact that he would take the time to read my query and respond back, something that you learn very quickly is not done with any great frequency in Hollywood. He definitely believed in paying it forward.

Phillip B said...

The NYTimes spent more than a year compiling portraits of each and every person lost that day. It remains compelling reading, and a worthwhile way to remember them all...

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/sept-11-reckoning/portraits-of-grief.html?hp#/portraits-of-grief/A/64

Cap'n Bob said...

Not to be outdone in the remembrance department, the Today show pre-empted their memorial segment to 9-1-1 for an interview with the Kardashian matriarch.

Val said...

I actually just happened to catch the glorious Michael Keaton "Frasier" episode for the first time this morning. (Hallmark Channel, I think.) Brilliant episode of a brilliant show.

I remember David Letterman saying on his first show after the 9/11 attacks something like, "Tell me if that [the reason for the attacks] makes a damn bit of sense--If you lived to be 1,000 years old, would it make a damn bit of sense?" And I think it will always feel that way. I'm sorry for your losses.

Pamela Jaye said...

now I'm curious - what was "the reason for the attacks"?

Allie said...

Thank you so much, Ken Levine, for posting this tribute to the Angells.
I have watched every episode of Frasier thousands of times and now when I watch I think of David Angell and miss him every time - even though I never got to meet him!
The biggest sense of loss and sadnes for me that dreadful day was hearing that the Angells were on one of those 2 planes.
Since then I have often thought about and felt the grief of those who lost their loved ones but to this day I feel a more personal grief for him and his wife.
They sound the most wonderful couple and you are lucky to have known them.
Alison Rooper, London. Oct 2012.

Pat Newman said...

My partner and I are great fans of Frasier. We both have very demanding, stressful jobs; watching an episode each night before bed ends the day on a light note. We've seen some episodes at least five or six times, but theynever fail to elicit two or three belly laughs per show, and whatever we were stressing about before the show started just melts away by the time we go to bed.At the endof tonights's episode, we saw the memorial to David and Lynn Angell. Only then did I remember that they were killed on 9/11. When I confirmed through an Internet search that that was how they died, I got a lump in my throat.It is difficult to try to understand why such kind, funny, gentle people had to die in a such a horrible, senseless way. The Angells brought great joy into the lives of others. I just don't get it. I don't think I ever will.

Pat Newman

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to read of such tremendous talent being taken in such a senseless act. I think of the Angell's every night as I watch Frazier reruns in bed. They added joy to my life and with reruns I continue enjoying their talents.

A Fan

Eddy Howard Pevovar DrEDisONagain@aol.com said...

Hi Ken, how are you?
On 9/11/01 I was tending to my classroom and had a room full of students in Lakewood, NJ. The principal walked in and told me something had happened. With TV in the classroom, we tuned in..and were horrified. Forty five minutes later, the police entered my classroom and told the principal they were taking me with them and she only a few moments to get my classroom covered by someone else. My other job was in Emergency Services and within an hour I was in my cruiser and in command of several disaster team members and ambulances making their way to the city. Weeks Later, when I learned of David and Lynn Angell's fate on that day, all of the reflection of the past, their accomplishments and their many family members, both TV and real members, sat upon me like a ton of bricks. So, to you Ken, their close friend, and to the many other people considered friend, family, son, daughter, cousin, uncle, aunt...I wish peace and grace to be upon you all...and I wish all of your cherished moments and memories to be happy and true. I hope you always feel love in your thoughts, and that you will reflect the past with what you say and do in the future. We love you all.
Eddy Howard Pevovar
DrEDisONagain@aol.com

Pamela Honea said...

I am sorry for the loss that the world has suffered from the senseless death of David and Lynn Angell, and although I did not know them, I am glad to have turned on the television this morning to see the "In memory of our friends...". Had I not, I would never have known the loss of two such wonderful people who both gave to this world and left a legacy of love, laughter and caring for others. Everyone lost and everyone involved on 9/11 had a story; no matter if they were surrounded by media, writings, clergy or had private lives--each person will be remembered individually by someone and collectively by everyone! God bless!

Rob said...

I just watched an episode of Frasier in memory of the Angells. A truly sad loss to the world. The only offer of comfort for the family and friends of the couple can be that they spent their final moments in this life together as they moved onto the next. May they never be forgotten.

richard hocking said...

I still remember those who died on 9/11 every year, like the people who died during wwI. Every year at between 1.45pm and 2.03pm I do 2 minutes silence to remember those who did during the horrible times.

Donna B. said...

I happened to find this site after watching a re-run of Frasier which by the way, happens to be my favorite sitcom. I was curious as to why both husband and wife were named at the end of the show. So, here I am. He was the best! What a writer and what a great loss we have suffered. I know this is late, but I will now always remember what a wonderful writer he was.

Megan Angell said...

I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for your words. It's been 13 years since The Worst Day.. 13 years without my aunt and uncle. Even though I never got the chance to really know either of them, I still miss them. I always wonder how life would be different if they were still around. Thank you EVERYBODY. If you would like to ever send things directly to the family (pictures, poems, stories, or even just a simple hello) I have set up an email account you can do just that. Send emails to davidlawrence.marylynnedwards@gmail.com Anything is welcome. Thank you everyone for your support, even 13 years later.

Stewart said...

Like many of you who placed blogs here, I too learned of the fate of the Angells after watching the same episode of Frasier. A terrible loss of such talent in such a senseless act !!
Stewart (UK)

TrevorMatt Bowmanwood said...

I've just seen an old Frasier re-run paying tribute to them in the credits. Lest we forget...

Vicki Johnston said...

Late night on Feb. 18, 2015, while watching a Frasier, I noticed the dedication at the end. Curious, I went to the Internet for answers and was stunned at what I found. A huge fan of all 3 shows over the years, I was amazed that I don't recall hearing of the loss of the Angells. The enormity of the tragedy kept any of us from taking it all in, I suppose. However, it's never too late to say how sorry I am that this world has lost such wonderful people. Like so many others, I never knew them personally, but felt as if I did from years of inviting the endearing characters from Cheers, Wings, and Frasier into my home. That seems strange, but I suppose it just proves that those you share laughs with through the years really do become a part of your life. Nothing makes sense about 9-11, but may the grief we share as Americans, serve to draw us closer as a country and I thank God for the lives and talents of all those who were lost on that awful day. Blessings to the families they left behind and may the comfort of lasting memories be there always.

Vicki Johnston said...

Late night on Feb. 18, 2015, while watching a Frasier, I noticed the dedication at the end. Curious, I went to the Internet for answers and was stunned at what I found. A huge fan of all 3 shows over the years, I was amazed that I don't recall hearing of the loss of the Angells. The enormity of the tragedy kept any of us from taking it all in, I suppose. However, it's never too late to say how sorry I am that this world has lost such wonderful people. Like so many others, I never knew them personally, but felt as if I did from years of inviting the endearing characters from Cheers, Wings, and Frasier into my home. That seems strange, but I suppose it just proves that those you share laughs with through the years really do become a part of your life. Nothing makes sense about 9-11, but may the grief we share as Americans, serve to draw us closer as a country and I thank God for the lives and talents of all those who were lost on that awful day. Blessings to the families they left behind and may the comfort of lasting memories be there always.

01artist said...

Hi Just had this question. I know that lot's of people have said things about David Angel. I know that on the Frasier TV Show specials Kelsey Grammer talks about him being on the flight that hit the twin towers. NOt to be strange but he was supposed to be on flight 11 but their was no flight 11 scheduled to depart that day at the time they say it did. Nowhere is there a flight log listing that flight at all for that day. You would think that if that was one of the planes that hit the twin towers there would be a flight log listing that flight, wouldn't there be? Anyways just curious that's all.

01artist said...

I was looking for my post but do not see it