An emmy award-winning writer-producer, World War II veteran and charismatic professor who restructured the screenwriting program at UCLA, William Froug could weave a story.
Froug, 91, died Sunday in Sarasota, leaving behind four children — Suzy Allegra, Nancy Earth, Lisa Froug-Hirano and Jonathan Froug — four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
“He's going to be missed,” said Steve Johnson, an actor and screenwriter who met Froug through the Liars' Club — an informal gathering of writers and storytellers that was started in 1953 by John MacDonald and Mackinley Kantor at the Plaza Hotel restaurant in downtown Sarasota.
Even in a room full of storytellers, Froug could spin a tale.
“He was one of those guys; he'd done everything, he'd been everywhere,” Johnson said. “He'd filled up his life with living.”
Talk about visiting Hawaii? He used to have a place in Hawaii, and lived there for a year.
Elvis Presley? Played pickup football with him.
Wishing for a new Corvette? He owned one of the first — ever.
“He saw a picture of a new car in 1953 and it was a Corvette; he fell in love with it — he was a radio producer back then,” recalled Richard “Doc” Glidewell, who sat next to Froug at Liars' lunches and drove him there the past few years. “He was living in L.A. and he decided he wanted one of those, and there weren't any of those in L.A. He found a dealership in San Francisco, he bought it sight unseen, they put it on a truck and pulled it up to the CBS building.”
“I've heard him described as someone whose presence was large — larger than life,” Lisa Froug-Hirano said of her father.
Froug-Hirano said her father protected his children from the Hollywood scene.
Sure, once there were swimming lessons from Esther Williams — he replied to an ad where she was offering them for $5. Or Froug brought Richard Chameberlain — then a Hollywood heartthrob as Dr. Kildare — to her sister Nancy's middle school function.
Or when Willie Mays, making a cameo appearance on “Bewitched,” stopped to sign an autograph for her.
“I was over the moon to meet Willie Mays,” said Froug-Hirano, who was 14 at the time.
Froug's biography reads like a Hollywood screenplay.
He was born May 26, 1922, in New York City and adopted by William and Rita Froug of Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was raised and where he graduated from high school.
That was followed by an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1943.
He entered the Navy upon graduating and was selected for the V7 Officer Training Program at Columbia University.
As a “90-Day Wonder,” officer, Froug served aboard a Subchaser in the Pacific stationed at Pearl Harbor and earned command of his own ship, the PC800, in 1945.
During long patrols, Froug honed his writing skills, his daughter said.
After his honorable discharge in 1946, he sold his first novella to “True Detective Magazine” in 1946.
Froug then got into radio writing and rose to Vice President, Programs, CBS Radio Hollywood by 1956.
Froug later got involved in television as the storytelling power of that medium developed. In the 1958-59 Awards, Froug won an Emmy and Producer of the Year awards for the ALCOA-Goodyear Theatre production of “Eddie.”
As a writer-producer, he had a hand in iconic series such as “Adventures in Paradise,” “Twilight Zone,” “Bewitched,” and “Gilligan's Island.”
Froug was nominated for another Emmy as producer on “Bewitched.”
He rose to become the Executive Producer in Charge of Drama for CBS, and that segued into his true passion — teaching.
While at CBS he began lecturing at USC's Film School.
He went on to become a full professor at UCLA — and was proudest about his accomplishments as a teacher.
Froug's books include several essential guides to screenwriting and an autobiography, “How I Escaped From Gilligan's Island.”
After moving between Sarasota and California, Froug settled on Sarasota because of his attachment to the Liars' and the camaraderie there.
Author John Jakes said he will most remember Froug's genial nature.
Froug-Hirano said her father delighted in Sarasota.
“He had a great group of friends,” she said. “He just enjoyed Sarasota and the great group of friends.”
Froug will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered in the Pacific Ocean by the Navy.
Born: 5/26/1922, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 8/25/2013, Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A.
William Froug’s western – screenwriter:
Hondo (TV) - 1962