News & Features
George with film producer Jerry Weintraub
Actress and singer Shirley MacLaine
George with actress and comedienne Lily Tomlin
Alumni Harry Nelson ('50), George, and Paul Perry ('50)
Talk show host Sarah Purcell, George, and comedienne
Motown moguls Berry Gordy and Suzanne de Passe
George Keeps ’Em Laugh-In!
By Nate Ethell ('08, MBA '13)
The stars aligned in Beverly Hills on September 25 as Pepperdine University and Hollywood came together at Still Laugh-In: A Toast to George Schlatter. Hosted by Pepperdine and the Brenden Mann Foundation, the signature event featured a colorful cast of characters who, between songs, stories, and good-humored comedy, paid tribute to a man who had profoundly influenced all of their lives.
The event officially launched Hollywood Visionaries and Beyond, a Pepperdine series of film screenings and celebratory events sponsored by the Brenden Mann Foundation saluting Jewish pioneers in the film and television industry.
Television host Larry King, garbed in his famous suspenders, served as the evening's host and master of ceremonies. Craig Detweiler, director of Pepperdine's Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture, opened the evening at the recently restored Saban Theatre, followed by a rousing homage from George's daughter Maria Schlatter. The string of stars toasting the prolific television director—many of whom received their start with George—included Kirk Douglas, Lily Tomlin, Tim Conway, Shirley MacLaine, Fred Willard, Sarah Purcell, Jerry Weintraub, JoAnne Worley, Berry Gordy, and Bruce Vilanch.
Sandwiched between live tributes were dozens of television clips that showcased George's more than 50 years of programming including the 1960s variety show Laugh-In, the pioneering reality show Real People, and the American Comedy Awards. During his distinguished career producing variety series and specials for television, George was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, winning twice for Laugh-In as Outstanding Musical or Variety Program and for the Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration as Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special.
Other celebrity guests in attendance included Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, Barbara Sinatra, George Hamilton, Barbara Davis, Stefanie Powers, Beverly Johnson, and Joan Collins. Following a video tribute from Goldie Hawn, who fondly recalled her start on Laugh-In, George briefly took to the stage to reflect on the memories and expressed his hope that the evening event could become an annual fundraiser for his alma mater.
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the George Schlatter Comedy Collection, which will be housed within Payson Library, and the George Schlatter Comedy Workshop currently in development at the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture. The comedy collection will provide a gathering place for scripts, memorabilia, and treasures that have inspired and guided the art of comedy. The comedy workshop will offer Seaver College students a brand-new, interactive learning experience to master the art of improv while honing their writing, directing, and performing skills under the guidance of professionals in the entertainment industry.
"I love when hard work toward an event pays off," said Kathryn Linehan, manager of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture. "Still Laugh-In was a win for those who attended, for the celebrities and luminaries who toasted George, for those behind the scenes, and most importantly for future generations of Pepperdine students who will be blessed with a library collection steeped in rich comedic history."
"As a football player for George Pepperdine College, George Schlatter hosted so many pep rallies," said Craig. "With Still Laugh-In, George rallied so many talented friends to support Pepperdine and our new entertainment initiatives. We look forward to hosting the George Schlatter Comedy Collection and educating the next wave of Pepperdine students in comedy and improv for years to come."