George Furth (1932-2008)

August 13, 2008

George Furth died on August 11 at the age of 75.  Furth will be best remembered as a playwright, in particular as the author of the book for three Stephen Sondheim collaborations, including Company.  But before and even during his success as an author, Furth was a busy actor, always in medium-sized character parts and mainly in episodic television.  He bore a resemblance to Paul Lynde, and also to Charles Grodin, and like both of them he specialized in playing nervous, excitable types, developing a schtick that was sort of a much milder version of Lynde’s.  Here he is in a 1967 segment of Ironside (the mustache is a fake).

Furth was gay, and like Roddy McDowall, he became such a treasure trove of Hollywood gossip over the years that he declared a moratorium on dishing it to inquiring reporters and historians.  When I contacted Furth in 1996, he told me that he did not give interviews, and then in the process of explaining why he answered all my questions anyway, in hilarious detail.  I was only asking about a couple of television episodes in which Furth guest-starred, but his remarks gave me good leads that I was able to follow up with people who would speak on the record.  You can bet that had Furth been willing to submit to true interviews, I would have been at the head of that line.

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