Bernie West (May 30, 1918 – July 29, 2010) was an American television writer best known for his work in situation comedies such as All in the Family, its spinoff The Jeffersons, and Three's Company.
Born on May 30, 1918, in the Bronx as Bernard Wessler, to Russian-Jewish immigrants; he earned his undergraduate degree from Baruch College, earning a Bachelor of Business Science in advertising. West worked as a nightclub comedian, and performed on tour with the U.S.O. in the Pacific Theatre after being rejected from the military based on medical issues. As part of the comedy duo Ross and West, he toured the hotel circuit in the Catskills and Poconos with Ross Martin, quipping, "Everything we did may not have been original, but what we stole was good!" After Martin left, he was replaced by Mickey Ross, a college friend of West's who changed his name from Isadore Rovinsky so that the comedy duo could retain the Ross and West name.
West appeared on Broadway in the 1956 production of Bells Are Ringing, creating the role of Dr. Kitchell, the song-writing dentist on stage and appearing in the 1960 film version starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin.
West also appeared in 1962's All American by Mel Brooks and starring Ray Bolger, Poor Bitos with Donald Pleasence, The Beauty Part with Bert Lahr and the 1969 production of The Front Page alongside Helen Hayes. He appeared on television on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Phil Silvers Show, and a guest appearance on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C..
After submitting a script for the show in 1971, West and partner Mickey Ross became writers for Norman Lear's All in the Family, working with another partner, Don Nicholl, as producers. West won an Emmy Award in 1973 for his writing on the episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers," together with Ross and Lee Kalcheim. The writing team created the character played by Bea Arthur as the lead in the All in the Family spinoff Maude. The trio wrote and produced The Jeffersons, another spinoff from All in the Family that ran for a decade starting in 1975. They created, produced, and wrote for the short-lived situation comedy The Dumplings, whose pilot aired in 1975 and which ran as a weekly series in early 1976. In 1977, they created Three's Company, which ran until 1984, as well as that show's less-successful spinoffs The Ropers and Three's a Crowd.
Together with his wife Mimi, who died in April 2004, West was a generous contributor to the Los Angeles Free Clinic. She had first discovered the Clinic after driving her husband to his job writing for All in the Family. West regularly contributed a portion of his salary while his wife worked there without pay. In 1997, the couple donated $500,000 towards the provision of pediatric dental care for those children without access to dentists.
West died at age 92 on July 29, 2010, at his home in Beverly Hills, California due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. He is survived by two daughters and two grandsons. He is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
1. Thursby, Keith. "Bernie West dies at 92; writer and producer on 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons'", Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2010.
2. Weber, Bruce. "Bernie West, a TV Writer Known for ‘All in the Family,’ Dies at 92", The New York Times, August 3, 2010.
3. Barnes, Mike. "Emmy winner Bernie West dies at 92: Worked on 'All in the Family,' 'Jeffersons,' 'Three's Company'", The Hollywood Reporter, August 2, 2010.
4. Oliver, Myrna. "Miriam 'Mimi' West, 81; Raised Millions for the L.A. Free Clinic", Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2004.
5. The History of Saban Community Clinic, Saban Community Clinic.