Born on May 22, 1934 in New York City, Rapp grew up Beverly Hills in a family considered part of Hollywood royalty. His father, Philip Rapp, created radio series The Bickersons and Baby Snooks. His godmother was actress and singer Fanny Brice, and his godfather was actor-singer Eddie Cantor.
Joel Rapp went on to work with director Roger Corman on many films and wrote for such television hits as Gilligan’s Island, The Lucy Show, McHale’s Navy, My Favorite Martian, The Patty Duke Show, The Joey Bishop Show and The Donna Reed Show.
Later, he became VP Comedy Development at Universal Pictures. But in a departure, he left that position in 1969 to pursue two different passions: indoor gardening and cooking.