Marshall Frady

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Marshall B. Frady
Born 1940
Augusta, Georgia
Died March 9, 2004
Greenville, South Carolina
Cause of death cancer
Nationality American
Occupation journalist
Known for books and articles on Civil Rights Movement
Awards Emmy (1982)

Marshall Bolton Frady (1940 – March 9, 2004) was an American journalist and author particularly known for his work on the African-American civil rights movement in the American South. In 1968, he published Wallace, a controversial biography of George Wallace, later described by contemporary Marc Cooper as "an instant classic".[1] His articles appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Life and Harper's, and he contributed to the American Broadcasting Company's news series Close Up and Nightline.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Frady was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1940.[3] His father was a minister in the Southern Baptist church.[4] In 1963, Frady received a bachelor's degree from Furman University, where he later joined the faculty as writer in residence.[2][3] He began as a journalist at Newsweek, later moving to the Saturday Evening Post and contributing to Harper's and Life.[3] Frady was married three times, to Susanne Barker (January 20, 1961 – October 1966), Gloria Mochel (November 10, 1966 – 1975), and Gudrun Barbara Schunk, whom he married on May 14, 1975 and who survived him. He had three children: Katrina, Carson, and Shannon.[5]

In addition to his print work, Frady was also active as a television journalist, contributing to the American Broadcasting Company's news series Close Up and Nightline.[2] In 1982, he won an Emmy for his work on a documentary about mercenaries, Soldiers of the Twilight.[6]


Frady was best known for his biography of George Wallace (pictured).

The author of several books, Frady is best known for Wallace, his first.[4] This biography of segregationist Governor of Alabama George Wallace was released in 1968, during the presidential election in which Wallace was running as a third-party candidate for the American Independent Party. Originally intended as a novel, the work became a nonfiction project after Frady conducted eight months of interviews with Wallace's staff and associates.[5]

Some commentators criticized Wallace as being an overly sympathetic portrait of the governor, but Wallace himself was angered by his portrayal and threatened to sue for libel.[4][5] The New York Times Book Review stated that Wallace was "one of the finest pieces of political reporting published in years—a sensitive, informed and funny feat of high journalism that is a classic of the kind", while a New Republic reviewer said that Frady "established new standards in political biography by ignoring stylistic traditions and instead seeking the essence and the spirit of this unique and terrifying political figure through novelistic techniques."[5] After Frady's death, contemporary Marc Cooper described Wallace as having been "an instant classic".[1]

In 1997, Wallace was adapted into a television miniseries for TNT titled George Wallace. John Frankenheimer won an Emmy award directing the series, and Gary Sinise, who starred as Wallace, also won an Emmy for his performance.

Other works[edit]

In 1971, Frady published Across a Darkling Plain: An American's Passage through the Middle East, which recounted his travels in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. In 1979, after four years of research, he published a biography of evangelist Billy Graham, Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness. Eighteen of his magazine articles were collected in book form as Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey in 1980. Later in life he published biographies of civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson (Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson, 1996) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Martin Luther King, Jr., 2001).[5]

Death and papers[edit]

Frady died of cancer on March 9, 2004 in Greenville, South Carolina. Jesse Jackson presided over his memorial service.[6] At the time of his death, Frady owed approximately $200,000 in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, causing his papers to be seized and auctioned off by the agency. They sold to Emory University for $10,100.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Marc Cooper (March 11, 1994). "Remembering Marshall Frady". The Nation. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Motoko Rich (October 8, 2008). "Putting a Modest Price on a Storied Literary Life". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Marshall Frady". Charlie Rose. PBS. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Wolfgang Saxon (March 11, 2004). "Marshall Frady, 64, Journalist Who Wrote Wallace Biography". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Frady, Marshall (Bolton) 1940-". Contemporary Authors, New Revisions Series.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 1, 2004. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Author Marshall Frady is dead at age 64". MSNBC. Associated Press. March 9, 2004. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 

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