George Yanok, who won two Emmys for co-writing television specials about Lily Tomlin in the 1970s, died Friday in Nashville after an 18-month battle with lung cancer, his daughter-in-law announced. Katie Hill. He was 83 years old.
One of CBS’ original writers Hee HaYanok has also written and/or produced for other shows such as Welcome back, Kotter, Sanford and sons, The Bob Newhart Show, Too close for comfort, The Stockard Channing Show and the Nice to meet you spin off, Tabitha.
Yanok was nominated for an Emmy for his work on The Lily Tomlin Show and Lilyboth aired on CBS in 1973, and for 1975 The Lily Tomlin Special, for ABC. He won for the latter two, sharing the honor with, among others, Tomlin’s longtime creative partner (and future wife), Jane Wagner.
Yanok landed another Emmy songwriting name in 1976 for Welcome back, Kotter. During this career he shared credits with the likes of Richard Pryor, Lorne Michaels, Herb Sargent and Christopher Guest.
George Richard Yanok was born on November 29, 1938 in Bristol, Connecticut. In 1951, he and his family moved to Pomona, California, and he attended Pomona Catholic High School, Santa Clara University, and San Jose State College.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Yanok performed stand-up at San Francisco’s starving nightclub and performed in theater. In 1969, he arrived writing concerts on Hee Ha, Glen Campbell’s Time for a Good Time and The Jimmie Rodgers Show.
In the 1990s, Yanok moved from Los Angeles to Nashville to write, direct and produce Prime time countries for the Nashville network.
He also did research for Judge Judy; taught television writing at Watkins College of Art in Nashville; developed a private consulting and teaching practice; and had a novel, Romeo in Shubert Alleypublished in 2017.
As a teenager, he was inspired by Gene Krupa to become a drummer, and he devoted much time and energy to the Nashville Jazz Workshop in its early years.
In addition to his daughter-in-law, survivors include his wife of 20 years, Laura, and son-in-law John.