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.