Though Bill Idelson (also occasionally credited as William Idelson) ultimately established himself as one of television's most prolific writers, many aficionados of vintage small-screen programming will recall him for his memorable on-camera portrayal of Sally's (Rose Marie) boyfriend on the CBS situation comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). Born in Chicago, Idelson entered show business as a child, co-starring in the popular radio program Vic & Sade; its creator, Paul Rhymer, reportedly inspired his young performer to take up a writing career.
Idelson kick-started his trade as a scribe with a teleplay for Rod Serling's Twilight Zone: the 1961 "Long Distance Call" (with Billy Mumy as a boy who converses with his deceased grandmother on a toy telephone). Idelson then began to specialize in television comedy, and went on to author episodes of programs including The Flintstones, Get Smart The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, and The Andy Griffith Show. Idelson branched out into producing in the 1970s, amassing credits that included the series The Bob Newhart Show and Love, American Style; he also continued his acting appearances, with guest spots on programs ranging from The Odd Couple to Will & Grace. In Hollywood, Idelson became a mentor to scores of writers and ran a series of famed writing workshops. He died on New Year's Eve 2007, at age 88.