Friday, July 17, 2009


TV and film writer and playwright Judi Ann Mason, who wrote for shows including "Generations" and co-wrote the film "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit," died of a ruptured aorta July 8 in Los Angeles. She was 54.

Mason wrote for TV shows including "Good Times," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Sanford," "American Gothic," and "I'll Fly Away."

Writer Tina Andrews said Mason was inspirational to African-American and female writers, "So many of us are here as writers because she was there first willing to assist our journeys. I thank God I had her powerful shoulders to stand upon."

A Shreveport, Louisiana native and Grambling State U. alumna, Mason began in theater. She wrote more than 25 plays such as "Living Fat," for which she won the Kennedy Center's Norman Lear Award for comedy writing at age 19, and "A Star Ain't Nothin' but a Hole in Heaven," for which she won the first Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award in 1977.

She was barely 20 years old when she was hired as a writer on the CBS comedy "Good Times" by Norman Lear. "I never saw Judi Ann Mason without a smile. She brought it to her writing and her writing brought the rest of us to laughter. She was the ultimate upper," said Lear.

Mason also wrote extensively for daytime serials, serving as head writer for the writers' development program at "Guiding Light," writing for "A Different World" and becoming associate head writer on "Generations," the first daytime series to center around an African American family. Her telefilm credits include co-writing Lifetime's "Sophie & the Moonhanger."

Mason was a Writer's Guild member since 1975. She taught as a visiting professor at such institutions as the U. of Florida and the U. of Louisville.

Mason remained active in the theater world, serving as chair of the first Southern Black Theater Festival in Shreveport. Her latest play was "Storm Stories: True Dramas of Hurricane Katrina," which was produced in New York and elsewhere.

She is survived by a daughter, a son and three siblings.

A memorial service will be held Friday July 17 at 11:00 a.m. in the prayer chapel on the east campus of the Church on the Way, 14300 Sherman Way, Van Nuys.