Jeremy Stevens, a three-time Emmy Award winner – including two as a writer and executive producer on Everybody Loves Raymond – died of renal failure on October 27 at his home in Northridge, California, surrounded by his family. He was 83,
A Brooklyn native, Stevens earned a degree in theater at Brooklyn College before studying at New York’s HB Studio under Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. Roles Off Brodway led to his hiring in the replacement cast of the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys.
While working at the Fourth Wall Improvisational Theatre Group, Stevens was offered his first opportunity to write for television, penning sketches for Valerie Harper and Richard Schaal on The Skitch Henderson Show. This led to more jobs, including a stint as headwriter for the talk and variety show, Playboy After Dark.
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His next job led to his first Emmy Award in 1972, when he was one of the founding writers of The Electric Company for PBS. Stevens would go on to write for such shows as Norman Lear’s Fernwood Tonight, The Richard Pryor Show, What’s Happening?, The Bad News Bears and Mork & Mindy. He temporarily returned to New York from Los Angeles to serve as head writer on the ill-fated 1981 season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Despite the notorious failure of the season, Stevens said he considered witnessing the emerging talent of a young Eddie Murphy a career highlight.
Stevens briefly returned to acting in 1976, reuniting with Harper for an appearance on Rhoda as a man proposing marriage to Julie Kavner’s Brenda.
Stevens went on to cowrite the 1985 John Candy movie Summer Rental, directed by Carl Reiner, while also performing a cameo role in the film.
He would write and produce other TV comedies including Dear John, Coach, and Down the Shore. On the latter, he first encountered fellow writer Phil Rosenthal, beginning a friendship that would lead to his joining the writing staff of Rosenthal’s Everybody Loves Raymond in its first year. He would remain on for all nine seasons, serving as Executive Producer and earning two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series.
See Rosenthal’s remembrance below.
After Raymond, Jeremy journeyed back and forth to Russia, spending the better part of seven years supervising the successful Russian version of Everybody Loves Raymond (‘Voroniny’) which not only produced all 210 of the original Raymond episodes, but went on to create new episodes of its own. The show spawned several spinoffs.
Upon returning from overseas, Stevens retired from screenwriting to focus on a lifelong passion for teaching and mentoring as a life coach.
He is survived by his wife Margie, daughter Nellie Reed and her husband Corey; son Billy and his wife Grace; daughter Lorie; and two grandchildren, Oscar and August Reed.
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One of the world’s greatest people and one my best friends passed today. This is Jeremy Stevens. We first met 30 years ago on what was an early sitcom writing job for me, but Jeremy was already a veteran. He had been an actor on Broadway, co-created The Electric Company for PBS, wrote on SNL during the Eddie Murphy years, and had tons of sitcom experience. He was so kind to me, this new kid. I loved him immediately. Hard not to. Ask anybody. He was the most loyal, generous, fun, encouraging human being you could wish to know. When I finished writing the Raymond pilot script, I was nervous, had no idea if anyone would even like it. I sent it to Jeremy first, knowing that at the very least, he’d be gentle. My phone rang. I said hello. “We’re gonna be on for ten years!”, he said. That’s how he was. I like to always let him know how wrong he was, that we were only on for nine years. But what fun we had. What laughs. He was my right hand. He later went after me to Russia to supervise their adaptation of Raymond and made it the most successful adaptation of a show in another language in television history. It’s still on there, there’s spinoffs even. That’s because of him. He stayed there seven years. The Russian team all loved him too. He was an an ambassador, a role model for how to be with people. Later, when he returned home, he told me he was going to become a life coach, I said, “So what else is new”. I was just happy that maybe now he’d get paid for it. He was besieged with illnesses for many years but he was always the personification of positivity. Of love. Of kindness. Of enthusiasm. It was not uncommon for him to burst into the room and say, “I just met the most terrific guy in the world. Talked to him for an hour. He parked my car.” I love Jeremy. I love his family, I love the family we made at Raymond and beyond for all these years, and I will love the laughs and joys we all shared together. Dear sweet Jeremy, my slightly older brother and buddy, you, you’re gonna be on forever. ♥️
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