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Barry Kemp Papers

Identifier: MsC0495

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Scope and Contents

The papers of Barry Kemp occupy approximately twenty seven linear feet of shelf space and covers the years form 1982 -- 1997. The material is divided into two series, Television scripts and Videotapes. The scripts document such series as Newhart and Coach. The inspiration for the main character in the latter series was the University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, and some of the exteriors were filmed on campus. The videotapes are a selection of Kemp productions.   Kemp authored and/or co-authored a number of the scripts in this collection; the remainder are the work of others writing for television series Kemp either created and /or produced. The scripts include complete first and final drafts for several series, along with single scripts from other productions providing a representative cross-section of Kemp's output.   Series One: Television Scripts, Boxes 1-8.   Series Two: Videotapes, Boxes 9-13.


  • Creation: 1982-1997


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Born December 4, 1949, in Hannibal, Missouri, Barry Michael Kemp earned a B.A. degree in communication and theatre arts from the University of Iowa in 1971, where he first began writing plays. His career has since centered around television scriptwriting and production.

Kemp broke into the television situation comedy scene at Paramount in 1978. Initially a writer, he also became executive script consultant for the ABC hit series Taxi. Ten years of work on Taxi brought industry recognition of his talent with Writer’s Guild of America award nominations in 1978 and 1979, and a 1980 Emmy award nomination for outstanding writing in a comedy series.

By 1982, Kemp was an executive producer for MTM Enterprises, penning the pilot for In Security and creating The New Bob Newhart Show -- later Newhart -- early in his tenure there. With Kemp at the helm as executive producer, Newhart was recognized with Emmy nominations in 1982 and 1983 for outstanding comedy series.

Kemp also shared writing credit and produced the 1986 soap opera and miniseries parody Fresno for MTM before moving on the Universal in 1987 to set up Bungalow 78 Productions. During this period along with a stint as producer of Coming of Age (1988), Kemp created and produced The Popcorn Kid (1987), Dad’s A Dog (1990), Princesses (1991), and Delta (1991). One of his most successful television series was Coach, created by Kemp in 1989. It was a situation comedy about a divorced football coach in a small Midwestern college town.

Married in 1972, Kemp and his wife Maggie Kemp (also a UI graduate), co-sponsor the UI Playwrights Festival they initiated in 1986. In 1990, Kemp was the recipient of the UI Distinguished Alumni Award.


64.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Television writer, producer. Consists of two series, scripts and video cassettes.

Method of Acquisition

Barry Kemp began donating his papers to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1992, and has been making regular additions to it since.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)