Oh, William Frawley

23 Mar

Bill, Bill, Bill…

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William Clement Frawley was born a solid 100 years before me, on Feb 26, 1887. He was born to Roman Catholic parents in Burlington, Iowa. When he got older, he moved to Chicago and against his mother’s wished took a part in a singing comedy. Frawley eventually made the jump to full-time vaudevillian and moved to San Francisco. In 1933, he moved again, this time to Hollywood and signed with Paramount as a character actor.

By the time casting for ILL began, parts for Frawley were getting to be fewer and fewer and he jumped at his chance for TV. He called his old acquaintance Lucille Ball and asked if there was a spot for him. Ball and Arnaz liked him for Fred Mertz but the studio was against him due to his long reputation as being a drunk. Arnaz straight out told Frawley that if his alcoholism in any way, ever, got in the way of making this show, he would be written off. Frawley was a total pro but if you watch him closely you can see his hands shaking in some scenes- due to his withdrawal.

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Everyone knows Frawley and Vivian Vance did not get along and Frawley would sometmes wear ear muffs behind the scenes when a scene called for Vance to sing. He was on board for the Mertzes spin off idea for the money, but Vance was the hold out and the show never went forward.

Frawley was only married once. To Edna Broedt Frawley from 1914 to 1927 however they separated in 1921. He remained a bachelor for the rest of his life. He suffered from prostate cancer but on March 3rd, 1966 he was rushed to the hospital after collapsing due to a heart attack, where he was pronounced dead.

Upon hearing of  his passing, Arnaz took out a full page spread in a newspaper bidding his friend “Buenas Noches, Amigo!” Vance was at a restaurant when she heard the news and proclaimed, “champagne for everyone!”



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