BEVERLY HILLS —Longtime friend of the Bell family in Beverly Hills, Jerry Birn died recently and the creators of “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” made certain their friend would never be forgotten. Prominent advertising executive and daytime drama writer Jerry Birn died on December 5, 2009, of natural causes.
After his stint at McCann Erickson, Birn went to work for Tatham, Laird & Kudner, in Chicago and New York, where he created some of the most unforgettable characters and slogans in the history of commercials. Birn’s client list included Mr. Clean, Head & Shoulders, Kix and Trix Cereal, Tidy Bowl, Lucky Strike Cigarettes and Biz and Bold detergents. Birn was the very first person to obtain permission from the elusive Walt Disney to allow a product to use a Disney character in an ad, when he introduced the animated “Peter Pan” and “Captain Hook” for Peter Pan Peanut Butter. Birn retired as Chairman of the Board of Tatham, Laird & Kudner in 1984.
Born in Chicago on March 23, 1923, Birn was extremely proud of his Chicago roots and upbringing. He attended DePaul University on a scholarship. After graduating, he moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, but soon found himself back in Chicago and working as a copy-writer for the advertising agency McCann Erickson. It was there that he met fellow Chicagoan and young copy-writer, William J. Bell, who would later create the two most successful daytime dramas in television history, “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Birn and Bell worked side by side creating ad slogans and writing jingle copies. When Bell moved on to begin his career in daytime, Birn stayed back and forged a successful 30-year career in the advertising world.
In 1987, Birn was contacted by his longtime friend William J. Bell, who by now was living in Los Angeles and helming his creations “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Birn quickly packed his bags and again found himself working side by side with Bell, but this time writing soap operas. For the next 22 years, until shortly before his death, Birn served as a writer and a story consultant for the two critically acclaimed Bell dramas. During this time Birn garnered 20 Daytime Emmy nominations and three Emmys, as well as three Writer’s Guild Award nominations and one Writer’s Guild Award.
“Jerry was a close personal friend of mine and the best man at my parent’s wedding,” said Bradley P. Bell, Executive Producer and Head Writer of “The Bold and the Beautiful”. “He has been and always will be an important part of our lives, our shows and our family. Jerry had a zest for life and lived his gloriously. A true ad man and writer, Jerry loved everyone and everything at “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and was very proud to be a beloved member of our shows. Jerry’s quick-wit and vibrant sense of humor will continue to resonate in our hallways, on our stages, and in our hearts. He is already greatly missed.”
Birn is survived by his wife, actress Patty Weaver Birn, his daughter, actress Laura Bryan Birn and his grandson, Matthew. No immediate memorial service will be held.