Thad Mumford (1951-2018)

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Thursday, September 20th, 2018 Update: Scriptwriter Ken Levine has posted a nice tribute to Thad Mumford at his blog.

Scriptwriter and producer Thad Mumford died September 6th at the age of 67. He worked on M*A*S*H from 1979 to 1983, first as a writer and later as a producer as well. With writing partner Dan Wilcox, Mumford helped pen 16 episodes, beginning with “Are You Now, Margaret?” in 1979 and ending with “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” in 1983. Other episodes the Mumford-Wilcox team wrote or co-wrote include “Bottle Fatigue,” “A War for All Seasons,” “Identity Crisis,” “Heroes,” and “As Time Goes By.”

The two also contributed the story for “Death Takes a Holiday,” alongside Burt Metcalfe. Mumford and Wilcox became producers on M*A*S*H during Season 10 and served in that capacity until the show ended.

Still from the Making MASH documentary showing Thad Mumford.
Thad Mumford, from the 1980 PBS “Making M*A*S*H” documentary.

Mumford started his career in television in 1971 as a writer on the PBS kid’s show The Electric Company. It’s around that time that he met Wilcox. In 1974, the two wrote their first script for an ABC sitcom called That’s My Mama. They became regular writing partners in the late 1970s, writing episodes of shows like The Waverly Wonders, Angie, and Alice. They also co-wrote the fifth installment of Roots: The Next Generation.

In 1979, the two joined the writing staff on M*A*S*H. Following the end of M*A*S*H, Mumford went on to write episodes of shows like Alf, A Different World, Coach, and Roc. He worked as a producer on The Duck Factory, ALF, and A Different World. From 1996 to 2006, he worked on Blue’s Clues as both a writer and a producer. According to his IMDb profile, his last credit is a 2002 episodes of Soul Food.

Mumford won an Emmy Award in 1973 for his work on The Electric Company. He was nominated in 1981, 1982, and 1983 for M*A*S*H. In 1980, Mumford and Wilcox won a WGA Award for writing “Are You Now, Margaret?” The pair were later nominated in 1981, 1982, and 1984.

Still from a MeTV Remembers the M*A*S*H Finale interview.
Thad Mumford, from a 2015 “MeTV Remembers the M*A*S*H Finale” interview.

In 2014, Mumford was one of more than a dozen people interviewed about M*A*S*H. Portions of these interviews later aired in 2015 on MeTV as part of a special three-hour “MeTV Remembers the M*A*S*H Finale” presentation. “At every level, everyone did their best,” Mumford recalled of M*A*S*H. “I mean, that was the mandate. And so people were challenged to do their best and they did. And so there was respect and there was collegiality and there were– I mean, it was fun to go to work.”

In 2016, Mumford was interviewed by the Television Academy Foundation for its Archive of American Television (now known as The Interviews: An Oral History of Television) both on his own and with Dan Wilcox. Here’s an excerpt in which the two recall how they joined the M*A*S*H writing staff:

As part of his individual interview, Mumford was asked how he’d like to be remember. “I’d like to be remembered as somebody who did good work,” he explained, “and work that is lasting and meaningful.”

Karen Hall, who worked as a writer and story editor on M*A*S*H from 1981 to 1983, shared the following on Twitter:

Dan Wilcox shared memories of Mumford with Variety for its Thad Mumford obituary. Another obituary can be found at The Wrap.

(Thanks to Dan.)

2 Replies to “Thad Mumford (1951-2018)”

  1. I honestly can’t say much about his work on M*A*S*H, as he came around during a time after which I felt the show jumped the shark, however, he (and Dan Wilcox as well) was a script and songwriter for SESAME STREET prior to M*A*S*H. In fact, perhaps his biggest Sesame hit is this old gem that he not only wrote, but provided vocals for as well:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUhJLBk-Q9k

    And here’s another song he wrote as well that’s really enjoyable:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX9V4SQY1nc

  2. I was honestly surprised when I saw his name pop up in Monday’s “In Memoriam” segment on the Emmys show. That was the first I’d heard of his passing, and I was wondering how long ago that had happened. Thanks for providing the report here.

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