John Bansley Aylesworth had a job laughing - and that made him one of the luckiest men on earth. But on the evening of July 28, 2010 his charmed life came to an end. John, a long-time resident of Palm Springs and Palm Desert, was 81 when he died at
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Eisenhower Medical Center surrounded by his
children and adoring wife. He left us peacefully and quipping to the end, and for this we are truly grateful.
John was an award-winning television writer and producer, playwright and author born August 18, 1928 in Toronto, Ontario. In 1957, after co-starring as one of Canadian television's first comedy teams, with partner Frank Peppiatt, John created "Front Page Challenge," the longest running game show in
John moved to New York to "Your Hit Parade," then on to Perry Como's "Kraft Music Hall." His career in variety television includes writing for Judy Garland, Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Herb Alpert, Jonathan Winters, Frank Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, and Dolly Parton among many others.
Once in Los Angeles, in 1969 John co-created
and produced "Hee Haw," the longest running
music-comedy-variety show on American television. John was also co-creator of "Hullabaloo." He was nominated for several Emmy Awards and won the Peabody Award for "Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music."
John's talent wasn't restricted to television. He was a playwright as well, creating "Palm Springs
Confidential" with Bill Marx, "The Comeback of Myrma La Rue," and "Durante - The Musical." John wrote five books, including "The Corn Was Green - The Inside Story of Hee Haw," published just this year.
John had six children who all adored him and to whom he was devoted. He is survived by his wife, Anita Rufus; his daughter, Linda and son, Robert of Vancouver, BC; John of Sacramento; Cynthia of Agoura Hills; Billy of Los Angeles; Thomas, who
tragically predeceased his father in 2003; and one grandson, Robert.
John was a talented, gentle man. As his children, we would like to thank his wife Anita for being an amazing step-mother and more importantly, our
father's best friend, partner in humor, and loving companion for 25 unforgettable years.
No public service is planned. Contributions
on John's behalf should be made to Macular
Degeneration Research, www.ahaf.org.
Published in The Desert Sun on Aug. 4, 2010