George Furth in Ellery Queen 1975
December 14, 1932
|Died||August 11, 2008 (aged 75)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Librettist, playwright, actor|
Life and career
Furth was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of George and Evelyn (née Tuerk) Schweinfurth. He is of German and Irish ancestry and was raised in the Christian Science faith. He received a Bachelor of Science in Speech at Northwestern University in 1954 and received his master's degree from Columbia University.
A life member of the Actors Studio, Furth made his Broadway debut as an actor in the 1961 play A Cook for Mr. General, followed by the musical Hot Spot two years later. He was also known for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim: the highly successful Company, the ill-fated Merrily We Roll Along and the equally ill-fated drama, Getting Away with Murder. Furth penned the plays Twigs, The Supporting Cast and Precious Sons, and wrote the book for the Kander and Ebb musical, The Act.
One of Furth's last writing projects was a foray into an area where he had not previously explored. Furth penned the lyrics for a musical revue, with music by Doug Katsaros. Furth and Katsaros shaped the work with San Francisco director Mike Ward into "The End-a new musical revue". The piece was performed at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center during the summer of 2004 and was billed as a "Pre-U.S. Tour Workshop Production". The piece was reworked twice, with the title changing to Last Call and Happy Hour, respectively.
Frequently cast as a bespectacled, ineffectual milquetoast, Furth appeared in such films as The Boston Strangler, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (as a devoted railroad employee travelling in the car that contains the safe that Butch and his gang twice rob), Myra Breckinridge, Blazing Saddles, Shampoo (as a bank officer dealing with Warren Beatty’s character’s loan request), Oh, God! (as a newspaper editor who refuses to publicize John Denver’s character’s claims that God has chatted with him), The Cannonball Run, The Man with Two Brains, and Bulworth. His many television credits include Tammy, McHale's Navy, Ironside, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Green Acres, The Monkees, Batman, The Odd Couple, Bonanza, Happy Days, All in the Family, Murphy Brown, L.A. Law, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Murder, She Wrote, Little House on the Prairie, Love, American Style, Adam-12, F Troop and the 1980 made-for-TV film The Scarlett O'Hara War, in which he portrayed famed film director George Cukor. He was a regular in the cast of the short-lived 1976 situation comedy The Dumplings.
He adapted his play Twigs as a 1975 television production, starring Carol Burnett. He also worked as a voice actor in several episodes of the animated television series The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda for Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Furth won both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for Company, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play for Precious Sons.
- The Best Man (1964) as Tom
- The New Interns (1964) as Dr. Phil Osterman
- A Very Special Favor (1965) as Pete
- A Rage to Live (1965) as Paul Rutherford
- The Cool Ones (1967) as Howie
- Tammy and the Millionaire (1967) as Dwayne Whitt
- Games (1967) as Terry, Party Guest
- Nobody's Perfect (1968) as Hamner
- How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968) as Roger
- P.J. (1968) as Sonny Silene
- What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968) as Murgatroyd
- The Boston Strangler (1968) as Lyonel Brumley
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as Woodcock
- Myra Breckinridge (1970) as Charlie Flager Jr.
- The Third Girl from the Left (1973) as Zimmy
- Sleeper (1973) as Guest at Luna's Party (uncredited)
- Blazing Saddles (1974) as Van Johnson
- Shampoo (1975) as Mr. Pettis
- Norman... Is That You? (1976) as Mr. Sukara
- American Raspberry (1977) as President
- Airport '77 (1977) as Gerald Lucas
- Oh God! (1977) as Briggs
- Hooper (1978) as Bidwell
- The Cannonball Run (1981) as A. F. Foyt
- Megaforce (1982) as Professor Eggstrum
- Young Doctors in Love (1982) as The Patients - Disgusting Looking Patient
- Doctor Detroit (1983) as Arthur Skridlow
- The Man with Two Brains (1983) as Timon
- Foofur (1986) as Additional voices
- The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda (1990) as Additional voices
- The Munsters Today (1990) as Dr. Carver (in "Just Another Face")
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) as Jedidiah Bancroft
- Goodbye Lover (1998) as Mr. Merritt
- Bulworth (1998) as Older Man
- George Furth profile at Film Reference.com
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of the Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
- Dramatists Play Service
- "Carol Burnett Stars in Special Comedy 'Twigs'" Lakeland Ledger (news.google.com), March 2, 1975
- Weber, Bruce. "George Furth, an Actor and Playwright, Dies at 75", New York Times; accessed August 12, 2008.