Gayle S. Maffeo, Producer on ‘Roseanne’ and ‘Home Improvement,’ Dies at 81

Gayle S. Maffeo, the three-time Emmy-nominated producer who worked on the first season of Roseanne and all eight seasons of another hit ABC sitcom, the Tim Allen-starring Home Improvement, died Friday, her daughter, Laura, announced. She was 81.

Maffeo had produced specials starring Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny and George Burns in the 1960s and ’70s before she segued to sitcoms including Nell Carter’s Gimme a Break!, Dabney Coleman’s Buffalo BillMary Tyler Moore’s Mary, Head of the Class and Open All Night.

She served as senior vp television for Matt Williams and David McFadzean’s Wind Dancer Productions, where she produced Roseanne in 1988-89, Home Improvement from 1991-99 and other shows such as Carol Burnett’s Carol & CompanyDan Aykroyd’s Soul Man, Thunder Alley and Buddies.

Maffeo, Williams, McFadzean and others shared Emmy noms for outstanding comedy series for their work on Home Improvement in 1992-94 but lost out to Murphy BrownSeinfeld and Frasier in consecutive years.

The second of three kids, Gayle Arden Sickinger was born on April 29, 1941, in Evanston, Illinois. After her father, Kenneth, died of leukemia, her mother, Virginia, remarried, and the family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then Darien, Connecticut.

She earned her associate of arts degree from Centenary College in New Jersey in 1961, then began her career in the programming department at CBS in New York. She worked as a script supervisor on The Sid Caesar Show and The Perry Como Show and served six years as Benny’s associate producer until his death in December 1974.

Maffeo co-founded and served on the board of the American Association of Producers and was a member of the DGA, Women in Film, the Hollywood Radio & Television Society, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the PGA.

Survivors include her partner, Kenneth; children Laura and Ken; daughter-in-law Elizabeth; and grandson Dante.

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