He Worked on Some of the Most Famous Shows on TV: ‘Playhouse 90,’ ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ And Wait Until You Read His Account About the Emmys. Writer-Producer William Froug Dies at 91

Sep 6, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Variety writes that as a television writer/producer, William Froug "was attached to series including ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ ‘Playhouse 90’ and ‘Adventures in Paradise.’ His involvement in ‘Bewitched’ earned him a shared Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series in 1967."

The story also says that Froug, "the Emmy-winning writer-producer, author and screenwriting professor who restructured UCLA’s entire screenwriting program, died of natural causes at the Tidwell House Hospice in Sarasota, Florida, on Aug. 25, 2013. He was 91."  Though he died a week ago Sunday, the Hollywood trades only wrote about his death late yesterday afternoon, and today, Sept. 6.

The Variety obituary adds: "In 1958, Froug won an Emmy for best produced television series for ‘Eddie,’ for which he also received a Producers Guild Award. Among other accolades, he received the Writers Guild of America, West’s Valentine Davies Award for industry/community service in 1987 and was named one of the ‘Emmy Legends of Television’ by the Archive of American Television last year."

Besides being an executive at CBS, at various times Froug taught at both UCLA and USC.

The Variety story also notes: "Froug is survived by four children — Suzy Allegra, Nancy Earth, Lisa Froug-Hirano and Jonathon Froug –[four grandchildren and two great grandchildren], and was married to Christine Michaels at the time of his death."

Here’s a terrific story Froug tells about his Emmy-winning show "Eddie." This is from Froug’s 2005 autobiography, "How I Escaped From ‘Gilligan’s Island’ and Other Misadventures of a Hollywood Writer-Producer."

The year was 1958. and Froug was producing shows for the half-hour drama anthology series "Alcoa Goodyear Theatre." He received an unusual script — a show that consisted of a single monologue. Froug loved the script, titled "Eddie." It was about a gambler who had to raise money to pay off his debts by a certain hour, or he was going to be killed. Immediately, Froug thought of one actor to play the part: Mickey Rooney. (Five years later Froug would also use Rooney as the only actor in a "Twlight Zone" episode called "The Last Night of a Jockey.")

Here is some of what Froug wrote about "Eddie" in his autobiography:

"As it turned out, Rooney could have directed himself. [As the cameras rolled] I could only stare with amazement as this superb actor picked up the prop phone and instantly became Eddie, making his desperate pitch to his customers, his brother, and finally his mother; a lonely, isolated man pleading for his life. With no actor to play against, it was a virtuoso performance. Rooney’s face broke out in sweat, his eyes searching the tiny apartment as if seeking divine intervention. Mickey Rooney’s performance defined talent. He was even better than I had imagined. … When we finished shooting after a little more than two days, the entire crew gave Rooney a richly deserved standing ovation."

Froug continues: "When the print was edited we showed the rough cut to a few Screen Gems executives. They came out of the projection room with raves. ‘It’s an Emmy for Rooney, no doubt about it,’ was the consensus. You could feel the excitement around the Screen Gems offices. We had something special."

Finally it was time for the Emmys to be presented. The show itself won. Froug writes, "It turned out to be ‘Eddie’s’ night. Jack Smight won as best director, and Al Brenner won one for adapting Kenneth Hughes’ script."

Rooney was up against five other actors in the category "Best Single Performance of the Year." Four of the others — Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Paul Muni and Robert Crawford Jr. — were nominated for their performances playing characters in various other drama anthologies. The fifth nominee was Fred Astaire, who was up for playing himself singing and dancing in his TV special "An Evening with Fred Astaire." Astaire won the Emmy.

Froug writes: "Entering the men’s room at the Earl Carroll Theater after the ceremonies were over, I discovered Rooney at the sink, staring at his image in the mirror. ‘Fuck ’em!’ he yelled. ‘Fuck ’em all! Who needs the bastards!’ He turned away form the sink and staggered drunkenly out the door, barely able to navigate. Who could blame him?"

william-froug-book-cover.jpgWilliam Froug pictured on the cover of his autobiography

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