( b. Dec 14, 1932 Chicago, Illinois, USA - d. Aug 11, 2008 Santa Monica, California, USA ) Male
Mr. Furth was often cast as an odd duck, a milquetoast or a stammery, uneasy type with something to hide. A list of his television credits describes a history of popular series from the 1960s to the ’90s, from “The Defenders,” “The Farmer’s Daughter,” “Honey West,” “F Troop,” “The Monkees” and “McHale’s Navy” to “All in the Family,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Wings,” “Murphy Brown,” “L.A. Law” and “The Nanny.” Perhaps his most memorable role was as Woodcock, the loyal railway employee who allows himself to be blown up not once, but twice, by Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy, rather than let the train he is riding be robbed.
As a playwright, Mr. Furth reached Broadway several times, both on his own and as a collaborator. “Twigs,” his play about four women from the same family, all played by Sada Thompson, received mixed reviews when it opened on Broadway in 1971, though Mr. Furth’s script had a fan in Walter Kerr of The New York Times, who called its four interconnected pieces “funny and touching and freshly conceived.”
A short-lived comedy, “The Supporting Cast,” appeared in 1981; and a more serious play, “Precious Sons,” a family drama with conscious echoes of Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and William Inge, received serious critical treatment when it appeared in 1986, but the prevailing judgment was that Mr. Furth’s noble ambition for his play outstripped his achievement. He also wrote the book for the Kander and Ebb musical “The Act,” a 1977 vehicle for Liza Minnelli.
In his best-known works, however, he was overshadowed by his writing partner, Mr. Sondheim, with whom he wrote three shows: two musicals, “Company” and “Merrily We Roll Along”; and a nonmusical mystery, “Getting Away With Murder.”
“Company” won a Tony for best musical in 1971, and Mr. Furth won a Tony of his own for his book. The show had two full Broadway revivals, the latest in 2006.
He graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in speech, and did graduate work at Columbia. He made his Broadway stage debut in 1961 and his movie debut in 1964 in Gore Vidal’s political drama “The Best Man.” His long show business career took place as much behind the scenes as in public view.
source: NY Times Obituaries