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George Furth (December 14, 1932 - August 11, 2008) was a Tony Award-winning Americanmarker librettist, playwright, and actor.


Furth was born George Schweinfurth in Chicago, Illinoismarker, the son of Evelyn (née Tuerk) and George Schweinfurth. He majored in Drama & Theatre at Northwestern Universitymarker and received his Master's degree from Columbia. He made his Broadwaymarker 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 Citymarker 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.


  1. George Furth Biography (1932-)
  2. Weber, Bruce. "George Furth, an Actor and Playwright, Dies at 75 ". New York Times. Accessed August 12, 2008.

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