David Sunshine: When Historical Fiction Makes You Laugh

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Morrow Wilson, whose new novel, David Sunshine, tells the story of the movers and shakers of the television industry in the 1960s, says, “I didn’t make it funny – it was funny!”

Author Morrow Wilson

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The secret of making the reader laugh,” says Morrow Wilson, “is to describe the crackpots accurately.

Recounting the adventures and misadventures of an innocent young man breaking into television in the bygone days when TV was black and white, when there were only three networks, and when even the Chairman of the FCC referred to television as “a vast wasteland,” David Sunshine, though fiction, is, as one reader put it, “exactly the way it was.”

“The secret of making the reader laugh,” says Morrow Wilson, “is to describe the crackpots accurately.

“Who would believe that the media’s (and the public’s) most famous and most admired television producer would begin a job interview by telling the job candidate, ‘It’s all con!’

“Who would believe he was so cheap he’d tip a cab driver a dime?”

David Sunshine is -- not so loosely -- based on real people and real events in the era of “Mad Men.” Had it been published then, it would have been an expose. But the timidity of book publishers kept that from happening. Now those events and people and litigation threats are gone. But the truth – and the laughs – go marching on.

Says Morrow Wilson, “The novel is accurate down to the dialogue. I’ve been dining out on these stories for years. Surefire laughs.”

After successful careers in broadcasting and advertising, Morrow Wilson stepped out from behind the scenes to become an actor, a singer and, as Betty White’s agent described him, “one of the foremost voice over artists in the world.” (He was also Golden Girl Rue McClanahan’s sixth and final husband. Their marriage lasted twelve years.)

“I enjoy the book-signings,” says Morrow Wilson, whose recent readings have included recitals at bookstores in New York City, a Columbia Alumni luncheon, and an evening at The Players, this country’s oldest and most prestigious theatrical and literary social club. “I get to perform moments from David Sunshine -- to act my own writing, to make the audience laugh. And I get to relive and remember.”

David Sunshine and the other colorful characters who populate his novel may be gone, but they are, thanks to the novel, far from forgotten. “They needed to be laughed at then,” says Morrow Wilson. “And now they are. It’s about time.”

He who laughs last…

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