75 (passed away Aug. 11th, 2008)
Dec. 14th, 1932
Chicago, Illinois, USA
George Furth's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1998 - Bulworth
1983 - The Man with Two Brains
1983 - Doctor Detroit
1982 - Young Doctors in Love
1982 - Megaforce
1981 - The Cannonball Run
1978 - Hooper
1977 - Oh, God!
1977 - Airport '77
1975 - Shampoo
1974 - Blazing Saddles
1973 - Sleeper
1970 - Myra Breckinridge
1969 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1968 - The Boston Strangler
1964 - The New Interns
Guest TV Roles
Phil (segment "Love and the Intruder")
Furth was born George Schweinfurth in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Evelyn (née Tuerk) and George Schweinfurth. He majored in Drama & Theatre at Northwestern University and received his Master's degree from Columbia. He 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, but in New York City theatre circles he is known more as a playwright than a performer, especially for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, the highly successful Company and the ill-fated Merrily We Roll Along, a bomb that eventually drew a cult following. He also penned the plays Twigs, The Supporting Cast, and Precious Sons, and wrote the book for the Kander and Ebb musical The Act.
One of his last projects was a foray into an area of writing he hadn't previously endeavored. 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 appeared 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 received a couple more reworkings, with the title changing to "Last Call" and "Happy Hour." Paula Holt was the primary producer of the project in all of its incarnations.
Frequently cast as a bespectacled, nerdish, ineffectual type, Furth appeared in such films as Blazing Saddles, The Best Man, Myra Breckinridge, Oh God!, Hooper, The Cannonball Run, Young Doctors in Love, Doctor Detroit, Bulworth, and in perhaps his best remembered role, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which he portrayed Woodcock, the railroad guard robbed twice by the titular pair. His many television credits include Tammy, McHale's Navy, F Troop, Ironside, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Green Acres, The Monkees, The Odd Couple, Bonanza, Happy Days, All in the Family, Murphy Brown, L.A. Law, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Murder, She Wrote, and the made-for-TV movie The Scarlett O'Hara War, in which he portrayed famed film director George Cukor. He adapted Twigs for a 1975 television production starring Carol Burnett.
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.
He died on August 11, 2008 at the age of 75. The exact cause is unknown but he was in the hospital for a lung disease at the time.
The family of his brother's son still live in Chicago: Conrad and Sharon (divorced) and their children, Allison, Ashley and Tiffany.
- 2000: Worked with 'Stephen Sondheim' (qv) on 1981 Broadway musical "Merrily We Roll Along". It was awarded Best New Musical at the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001.
- Other plays included "Precious Sons" and "The Supporting Cast." He also wrote the book for the 'John Kander' (qv) and 'Fred Ebb' (qv) musical "The Act" starring 'Liza Minnelli' (qv). "Getting Away With Murder," a third collaboration with 'Stephen Sondheim' (qv), a comedy thriller that ran a few weeks in 1996, was a rare stab at straight playwriting and one of the last examples of the thriller genre to reach Broadway.
- In the late 1990s, there was talk of 'Annette Bening' (qv) starring in his comedy entitled "Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex," but the production never materialized.
- Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, volume 144, pages 160-162. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2006.
- In the early 1970s, plans to film his hit 1971 Broadway play 'Twigs' with 'Elizabeth Taylor (I)' (qv) playing four roles never materialized.
- He graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in speech and received a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University in 1956.
- In the late 60s he began jotting down ideas for a series of one-act plays, with the idea of getting actress 'Kim Stanley (I)' (qv) to play the lead in each playlet. When no producer would bite, he turned to 'Stephen Sondheim' (qv), who, in turn, showed the work to director 'Harold Prince' (qv). The result was 1970's landmark Broadway musical "Company". George later used some of the one-acts not used in "Company" to form "Twigs," a 1971 quartet of interconnected plays about four women, all from the same family.
- Won Broadway's 1971 Tony Award as Best Book (Musical) for "Company."
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