LOS ANGELES -- Madelyn Pugh Davis, a screenwriter who co-created the lines and slapstick that Lucille Ball brought to life in TV's classic comedy "I Love Lucy," has died. She was 90.
Davis died Wednesday at her home in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles after a brief illness, her son, Michael Quinn Martin, said.
Davis and her longtime writing partner, Bob Carroll Jr., crafted all episodes for the hit CBS TV sitcom's first four years before they were joined by two other writers, said Lucie Arnaz, Ball's daughter.
Whenever her mother was complimented on her success, Arnaz recalled, "the first words out of her mouth were, 'I have these wonderful writers,' or, 'I can't do it without my writers.' Most of the time she was referring to Davis and Carroll."
Davis' son said his mother would pay tribute to Ball's ability to turn physical gags described in a script into something "much more amazing."
Martin and his mom often watched reruns of the classic sitcom that still airs worldwide.
"She was always kind of flabbergasted that people were still interested in it after all these years," he said. His mother always got a laugh out of the show, sometimes noting she had "cranked out" so many episodes that she couldn't entirely recall them.
Davis and Carroll had worked on Ball's radio comedy, "My Favorite Husband." When the show moved to TV in 1953 as "I Love Lucy," Ball took Davis and Carroll with her and added real-life husband Desi Arnaz to the cast.
The writing duo remained with the show during its 1951-57 run and then wrote for "The Lucy Show," "Here's Lucy" and "Life With Lucy." Carroll died in 2007 at age 87.
Ball, a native of Jamestown, N.Y., died at 77 in 1989.
Arnaz recalled Davis as "such a girlie girl, a lady," someone who understood how to write for a woman.
Her nature, along with "her professionalism, wit and inventiveness," made her an essential part of the success of "I Love Lucy," said Tom Gilbert, co-author of "Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz."
The entertainment industry can be tough for women to crack, but her son said Davis, an Indiana native, got an unexpected assist: When she arrived in Los Angeles around 1944, male writers were scarce because so many were serving in World War II.