Television writer Henry Sharp dies at 106

Henry Sharp title card from a fourth-season episode of The Wild Wild West

Television writer Henry Sharp, whose credits included The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died Jan. 9 at 106, according to a Twitter post by the Writers Guild West.

Sharp’s entry on lists credits across various genres going back to the late 1950s. Many of his initial credits were for situation comedies, including The Donna Reed Show and McHale’s Navy.

The writer shifted to spy-fi in the mid 1960s as the spy genre became popular. Sharp was brought in to rewrite a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Neptune Affair, about a group of scientists trying to start World War III. Sharp shared the teleplay credit with John W. Bloch, who plotted the story.

Sharp’s biggest mark was on The Wild Wild West, which mixed cowboys and espionage.

Sharp wrote four first-season episodes. Early in the second season, he was brought aboard as story editor (formal title: story consultant), where he helped supervise and revise scripts. He had a total of 10 writing credits on the series.

One of his best was early in the second season, The Night of the Golden Cobra, which featured Boris Karloff as the guest adversary for Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon (Robert Conrad and Ross Martin).

Here’s the tweet announcing Sharp’s death:

3 Responses

  1. The Story Consultant (Editor) is an important job for insuring the series’ premise is being adhered to. Meaning continuity in atmosphere, characters, the general feel of the show. An interesting story (teleplay) can always be written by any talented author. However it must be adapted to the parameters and running time of the series. Sharp did a fine job on those episodes mentioned. Writing for the WWW was a special challenge given the direction of (quirky) plots using (steam-punk) gadgetry! Because it had never been done before. (Our FCC website did a Spotlight article on the WWW, and is getting ready to post one on the MFU). Thank you for acknowledging another talent who contributed to our favorite classic TV shows.

  2. The classic example of a script that was high-quality but did not fit the series format, I’d guess, was Harlan Ellison’s original draft of “The city on the Edge of Forever” on Star Trek. As I understand it, he had a guest character aboard the Enterprise running drugs, and featured Kirk as ready to abandon the ship and Earth’s future for Edith Keeler. Apparently there are very strong elements to recommend Ellison’s original story; but it didn’t fit the format and had to be altered.

  3. The Fan Club Cafe (our blog) wrote a spotlight on a series, namely about the ST:TOS episode titled “The City on the Edge of Forever” which has an interesting backstory, as Benzadmiral mentions above. Here is the link:

    Also appreciate Benzadmiral’s clarification about his comment on the use of the “Fourth Wall” in the MFU series, thank you 😉

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