Friday, September 11, 2020

9-11 and David and Lynn Angell

You'll have to wait for Monday for this week's Friday Questions.  It's 9-11.  I re-post this every year on this date and always will. 

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 nineteen years later, so inconceivable.


Mike Barer said...

Wishing comfort as you mourn this loss.

Kendall Rivers said...

The saying goes "Only the good die young" and we always wonder why does it seem that the nicest, purest of people who do so much good including David and Lynn Angell, Martin Luther King, Jr, so many others famous and not famous go so soon. I won't try to give an answer because that's impossible, only God knows why but I can make a theory that it's probably because these people were chosen to serve as Angels that need to watch over the world now and God somehow usually picks the best and purest of heart to carry that type of giant responsibility. I know you're not a religious guy, Ken, which is fine, but, I hope that thinking about it like that will provide some good feelings and for everyone who lost someone that day. We certainly suffered a great loss that day and of course this year but we also gained legions of Angels.

Dave Williger said...

David and Lynn had a profound effect on my family’s life. David was responsible for giving me the opportunity to break in as a freelance writer on several episodes of Cheers. And, Lynn, as the librarian at Campbell Hall, was undoubtedly instrumental in getting my sons admitted to that remarkable school. The Angells were, and continue to be, the most charitable couple my wife and I have ever known. Always a sad day but also one filled with smiles, remembering the fun we shared with those extraordinary friends.

Lemuel said...

Whenver I see David Angrll's name in the credits I remember your artcle, Ken.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Just as "M*A*S*H" sought to individualize war's waste with the fictional death of Henry Blake, Mr. Levine's tribute to the Angells personalizes the loss of two lives in such a senseless act.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Wow! Nineteen years already? It's hard to wrap my mind around that.
They say that "time heals all wounds." But obviously some take a lot longer than others.
As always, nice tribute.


The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

G-d Bless them.

littlejohn said...

Ken, thank you for posting this every year, even though it reminds you of your loss. I was on one of the last planes out of NY before the towers went down, and got stuck out of the country for 8 days. My story pales in comparison with your loss.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ken, for your tradition of reposting this tribute. I read it every year; it has become part of my ritual on this day. I really miss Lynn and David.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again, Ken. David was my cousin. Here is a link to my article today in

Jim Raftus

Matt in Westwood, CA said...

Thank you for your annual posting, I see it every year. When I attended a CHEERS taping in 1987, I was well aware of the names of the writers, and during a break between scenes the warm up guy would point out and introduce people on the stage, and I distinctly remember him pointing out David. When I see the annual post, I always recall that night. Even though I did not know him or actually meet him, what stands out to me is he is the one person from 9/11 that I actually saw in person. My ritual on that day every year is I watch a David Angell episode of CHEERS. I just finished his Emmy winning episode OLD FLAMES. I remember the first time I saw it, and the argument over the black book that Diane wants Sam to destroy, and his compromise, “I’m gonna rip out x thru z and all but one or two.” I could not stop laughing. When Diane dismisses his gesture and he pulls out the scotch tape to put the pages back together, again, I could not stop laughing.

Also, thank you Jim Raftus. I read your article and it was really nice to learn more about him. Not only did he leave a legacy of an excellent body of work to enjoy, the philanthropy that he and his wife Lynn left that still is impactful to this day is an amazing example they set for others to follow.

Diane KH said...

Thank you for the annual post; and thank you Mr. Raftus for the link.