Eunetta T. Boone, a writer and producer for popular television domestic comedies who began as a sports reporter for The Evening Sun, died of an apparent heart attack last Wednesday at her home in Marina del Rey, Calif. She was 63.
Born in Huntsville, Ala., and raised in Washington and Hyattsville, she was the daughter of Richard Earl Taylor, a teacher, and his wife, Eunice Bessie Taylor, a social worker. She was a graduate of McKinley Technical High School and earned a degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. She graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism.
“Eunetta always had an interest in plays and entertainment,” her sister, Regina Ward of Hyattsville, said. As a young woman she loved to take a train to New York and make a weekend of it. As a child, in a store, she would run to the book department and read a book.”
In 1984 she joined the sports staff of The Evening Sun. Among her assignments, she covered the Blast indoor soccer team, wrote a profile of Morgan State University athletic director Earl Banks and reported on the funeral of University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias, who died in 1986. In 1988 she won a Maryland-District of Columbia-Delaware Press Award for a series called “Muscle Mania,” about bodybuilding and the dangers of steroid use. She also wrote a twice-a-week high school sports column.
"Eunetta likely emerged from the womb spinning stories for the delivery doc and the nurses,” said her former Evening Sun editor, Michael Davis of Davidson, N.C. “She not only knew how to enter a room, she could fill it with laughter. Eunetta had intelligence, drive, inquisitiveness and determination. There were times when people in Baltimore's sports orbit didn't know quite how to respond to her, as they had never encountered anyone quite like her. … She had an interviewing style that was hers alone.”
Mr. Davis also said: “She had a zest for life. Meeting her, I had a gut feeling. I could tell she was a storyteller because she told her own story well. She didn’t try to be expert on sports — she told me she could offer something to the sports department that wasn’t already there.”
After working at the newspaper for six years, she had a career change. She and a writing partner, Karen Raper, applied for a Warner Bros. Comedy Writing Workshop through the Maryland Film Commission in 1989.
“In the elevator, they came up with the idea for the sitcom script they would submit as their application,” a 1990 Sun story said. “They wrote a comedy about a family whose older kids return to the nest. It got them chosen as two of the 17 writers who participated in the one-week workshop.”
“We're just both confident people,” Ms. Boone said in 2000. “I set out to be a reporter for a newspaper and I accomplished that. I set out to be an award-winning sports reporter and I accomplished that. I see no reason we can't accomplish this.”
Ms. Boone also said, “We both watch a lot of television. We grew up on it. I'd much rather hear that one of our scripts needed punching up, needed some new gags, than hear it needed better characters or a stronger story. We're both products of the civil rights era. We didn't get this because we're black; this wasn't a minority search. We got it because we were educated, we were ready and we had the ability.”
The 1990 article said Ms. Boone secured an agent and moved to Los Angeles.
She got a job on the staffs of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” with Will Smith, and on “Roc,” with Charles Dutton, who starred as a Baltimore sanitation worker. She wrote for “The Parent ’Hood” and “Getting By.” She went on to a producing career — on “Lush Life” and “Living Single.”
The first series she created was “One on One” for the UPN network, a show about a sportscaster named Mark “Flex” Washington played by Flex Alexander. She also created the sitcom “Cuts.” Other credits include her work on “The Hughleys” and “My Wife and Kids.”
Most recently Ms. Boone was executive producer and showrunner on the third season of Disney Channel’s situation comedy, “Raven’s Home,” starring Raven-Symoné.
"Eunetta Boone was a wonderful person and a consummate storyteller and teacher, and through her leadership on many productions including ‘Raven's Home,’ she did so well what she enjoyed most — mentoring creative talent,” the Disney Channel said in a statement.
Said Raven-Symoné, also in a statement: “Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful storyteller, and empathetic leader and a beacon of light to so many.”
Ms. Boone also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension for six years and gave master classes at Morgan State University.
“Eunetta was engaging and the students had a great time with her,” said Jacqueline “Jackie” Jones, chair of the Department of Multimedia Journalism at Morgan. “She lit up a room.”
Plans for a funeral are incomplete.
In addition to her sister, survivors include her mother, Eunice Taylor, also of Hyattsville; and two nieces, Breawna Taylor and MaKenna Ward, both of the Washington suburbs.