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Ken Shapiro


1942 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Ken Shapiro Obituary
June 5, 1942 - November 18, 2017 Seminal film writer and director Ken Shapiro passed away quietly at home on Nov. 18, after a valiant struggle with cancer. Various industry observers credit Shapiro and his 1974 independent raw sketch comedy, "The Groove Tube", with being the template for modern comedy's media-wise, frank sensibilities. Film director Gus Van Sant said of Ken, "I learned much more from him than anything in school," and further credits Shapiro with being the pioneering source of Saturday Night Live. Jim Knipfel, of OZY.com, wrote: "In terms of contemporary American comedy, I'm hard-pressed to think of another single film that was more widely influential." The television spoof was an outgrowth of Shapiro's earlier New York innovation, "Channel One". Shapiro's news anchorman satire, with his signature sign off line, "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow", was later adopted for Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Shapiro also co-wrote and directed 20th Century Fox's 1981 Christmas release, "Modern Problems". Born in Newark, New Jersey, to parents Frank and Leona, Kenneth Roy Shapiro was already appearing in commercials when he was two months old. Known as little Kenny Sharpe, he became a child star in the days of live television in New York, and appeared often on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater as "the kid". In one memorable performance, he literally danced rings around Berle. Uncomfortable in the corporate structure of studio and TV networks, Shapiro left Hollywood after "Modern Problems", eventually settling in Los Cruces, NM. He is survived by his loving wife Kelly, and devoted step-daughter Danielle-Lampkins; his sister Cookie and brother Stanley. He also leaves behind two dauntless daughters, Rosy Rosenkrantz, fka Jennifer, and her son Cerulean, and his daughter Emily Shapiro, mother of Willa, Milo and Romy. Though the transformative impact of his comedic point of view continues to ripple in current culture, life and Ken Shapiro were not friends┬┐more like worthy adversaries, drawing strength and purpose in combat. It was pretty much a draw, and life misses him already.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27, 2017
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