Steve O'Donnell (writer)

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Steve O'Donnell (born July 19, 1954) is an American television writer. His credits include The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Chris Rock Show and Late Night with David Letterman.[1]

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with an A.B. degree from Harvard College in 1976. He also did graduate studies in American history at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He was in the David Letterman show almost since the beginning. The Top Ten List was invented while he was head writer of the show, and he wrote the lists in collaboration with the other writers of the show. According to O'Donnell, the Top Ten List was an "almost simultaneous inspiration arriving from staffers Jim Downey, Randy Cohen and Robert “Morty” Morton — largely prompted by the ridiculous 'eligible bachelor' lists in a local New York paper that included the 84-year-old Bill Paley. 'Why, we can put such nonsense together ourselves!' we exclaimed. And we did." [2] He later co-authored several of the Top-ten books based in the show.[3]

He has been the head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live! since the show's debut in January 2003. He occasionally appears acting in comedy bits for the show in front of camera as well.[4]

He is the identical twin of Mark O'Donnell, the Tony-award winning co-writer of the Broadway musical Hairspray[1] who died on August 6, 2012.[5]

He won Primetime Emmy Awards in the "Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program" category on four occasions: for Late Night with David Letterman in 1984, 1986 and 1987 and for The Chris Rock Show in 1998.[6]

Simpsons episodes written by O'Donnell


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Interview with Steve & Mark O'Donnell". The Believer. August 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Steve O’Donnell (2015-05-07), "David Letterman's Top Ten On Air Moments", New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sources for top-ten list:
  4. Mendoza, Manuel (2006-02-04). "Inside 'Kimmel Live'". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2010-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kennedy, Mark. "'Hairspray' co-writer Mark O'Donnell dies at 58".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Awards for Steve O'Donnell". IMDB. Retrieved 2010-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links