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Jenna McMahon, co-creator of 'The Facts of Life' and 'Mama's Family,' dies at 89

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Jenna McMahon, a three-time Emmy Award winner and co-creator of the comedies The Facts of Life and Mama’s Family, has died. She was 89.

McMahon died of heart failure on March 2 at a hospital in Monterey, Calif., her daughter, Kerry Holden-Dixon, told The Hollywood Reporter.

 

McMahon, born Mary Virginia Skinner, was a longtime comedy writing partner of the late Dick Clair in the ’70s and ’80s.  

 

She met Clair while teaching acting classes in West Hollywood in 1961. They came up with a comedy act and played nightclubs, eventually landing appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show and The Merv Griffin Show and became regulars on comedy variety shows like What’s It All About, World? and The Funny Side.

The team would go on to write for The Carol Burnett Show and create the character Eunice, the ranting daughter of Mama (Vicki Lawrence) and wife of Ed (Harvey Korman) for the show’s recurring sketch “The Family.” This creation would lead to their NBC show Mama’s Family (1983-1990).

Their other sitcoms included The Facts of Life (1979-1988) and It’s a Living (1980-1989). The team also wrote a 1987 variety special starring Carol Burnett, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams (who won an Emmy for his performance.)

McMahon and Clair had seven Emmy nominations, and three wins from their writing on The Carol Burnett Show.

 

She had roles on several shows including The Twilight Zone, The Bob Newhart Show and Welcome Back, Kotter.