Jack Laird (May 8, 1923 – December 3, 1991) was an American screenwriter, producer, director, and actor. He received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his works in Ben Casey, Night Gallery, and Kojak.
Jack Laird Schultheis
May 8, 1923
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||December 3, 1991 (aged 68)|
Los Angeles, [California], U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
Laird entered the entertainment industry at a young age. One of his first appearances as a child actor was in an unbilled bit part in the 1934 film The Circus Clown. He continued to appear in unbilled bits into his late twenties, but eventually moved into writing and producing.
One of Laird's favorite actors was Leslie Nielsen with whom he made several made-for-TV movies, including 1964's See How They Run, the first feature in that genre, Code Name: Heraclitus, Dark Intruder, The Return of Charlie Chan and numerous TV episodes. Nielsen also starred in a series produced by Laird was evidently an admirer of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. He based at least two episodes of Night Gallery on Lovecraft's work - "Pickman's Model" (based directly on the Lovecraft story of the same title Pickman's Model) and "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture". The dialogue of the 1965 horror movie Dark Intruder, produced by Laird, includes some references to alien beings invented by Lovecraft, tying the film to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. In an early scene where Brett Kingsford meets with the police commissioner, opines that "gods older than the human race...deities like Dagon and Azathoth still have worshippers." He was also an avid film collector and jazz fan.
Laird died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 68. His final resting place in Hollywood Forever Cemetery is in the "Garden of Legends" (formerly Section 8), Lot 266. His grave is next to the cenotaph of actress Jayne Mansfield.
A number of Jack Laird's projects were never produced or broadcast:
- At the time of his death, Laird was working on a television series based on stories by thriller writer Robert Ludlum
- In 1967, he created an unsold comedy pilot, The Return of the Original Yellow Tornado, about two elderly, retired superheroes Mickey Rooney is the original Yellow Tornado and Eddie Mayehoff is his retired sidekick who must once again don their leotards to do battle with a super-villain who has been set free and has vowed to destroy the world. The pilot was eventually expanded to a film-that was never released.
- In 1972, he worked as producer on one of the pilot episodes produced for Biography, an unsold TV series. Four pilots were completed and eventually appeared as TV movies, but Laird's episode about Houdini was never filmed.
- "Filmreference.com". Jack Laird Biography. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
- "Television and the Movie Industry". digitalhistory.uh.edu. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- "Cinema: Film History Since 1880". matthewhunt.com. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Skelton, Scott; Benson, Jim (1999). Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-2782-1.
- "The Internet Movie Database". Jack Laird - Other Works. Retrieved February 16, 2008.