Frady, Marshall (Bolton) 1940-
FRADY, Marshall (Bolton) 1940-
PERSONAL: Born January 11, 1940, in Augusta, GA; son of Joseph Yates (a Baptist minister) and Jean Marshall (Bolton) Frady; married Susanne Barker, January 20, 1961 (divorced, October, 1966); married Gloria Mochel, November 10, 1966 (divorced, 1975); married Gudrun Barbara Schunk, May 14, 1975; children: (second marriage) Katrina, Carson, Shannon. Education: Furman University, B.A., 1963; received degree from University of Iowa, 1966.
ADDRESSES: Office—ABC News, 7 West 66th St., New York, NY 10023.
CAREER: Newsweek, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, bureaus, correspondent, 1966-67; Saturday Evening Post, Atlanta bureau, staff writer, 1968-69; Harper's, Atlanta bureau, contributing editor, 1969-71; Life, Atlanta bureau, writer, 1971-73; American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC-TV) News, New York, NY, chief correspondent for "ABC News Closeup," 1979-86, "Nightline" correspondent, 1986—; nonfiction author.
AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1963; Golden Eagle Award, Council of International Non-Theatrical Events, 1980 and 1983; Pulitzer Prize nomination for general nonfiction, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1981, for Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey; Emmy Award, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1982; named distinguished alumnus, Furman University, 1982.
Wallace, World Publishing (Chicago, IL), 1968, revised edition published by New American Library (New York, NY), 1976, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.
Across a Darkling Plain: An American's Passage through the Middle East, Harper's Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1971.
Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1979.
Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey, New American Library (New York, NY), 1980.
(With others) To Save Our Schools, To Save Our Children: The Approaching Crisis in America's Public Schools, introduction by Robert Coles, foreword by Peter Jennings, New Horizon Press (Far Hill, NJ), 1985.
Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor to numerous periodicals.
ADAPTATIONS: Wallace was adapted for the miniseries, George Wallace, 1997, TNT television.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Marshall Frady has written extensively about southern politics and culture, both as a reporter for such magazines as Newsweek, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post and in his nonfiction books. In 1979 Frady moved into television journalism when he became a correspondent for ABC News. Frady's writings, which include biographies of controversial politician George Wallace and of televangelist Billy Graham, draw upon his rural North Carolina background. Reviewers often cite his skill in evoking ambiance through adjectives; some have compared Frady's descriptive talent to that of acclaimed twentieth-century southern novelist William Faulkner (author of Light in August and The Sound and the Fury). In a 1980 article, Los Angeles Times contributor David Shaw remarked that Frady "has always had a touch of the poet about him, an ability to use language far better than most journalists to evoke feeling, to invoke a sense of place and time and character."
Wallace, Frady's first book, attracted widespread attention for several reasons. The first was its well-timed publication in 1968, when its subject, former Alabama governor George Wallace, was a third-party presidential candidate finishing ahead of opponents Hubert Humphrey and incumbent Richard Nixon in some polls. The Vietnam conflict had divided the country, as had growing racial tensions in both impoverished northern cities and a South ravaged by the civil rights struggle, and Wallace's stance on these issues appealed to some voters. Others felt that Wallace's "populist" campaign—championing the cause of the working poor for better economic conditions and streets free from crime—was racist and divisive. As Frady's biography details, Wallace's most notorious brush with fame stemmed from his opposition to racial integration in the South. In one instance, Wallace himself, with the help of the National Guard, physically blocked the doorway of the University of Alabama after federal courts had ordered admission of the school's first black student. Frady first came to know Wallace when he was a Newsweek reporter covering the 1966 Alabama gubernatorial campaign, and came to believe Wallace would be the perfect subject for a work of fiction about an ambitious southern politician.
Frady spent eight months researching the book inside the Wallace camp, interviewing his subject, friends, and advisors, and the work evolved from a novel into a direct biography. When Wallace was published in 1968 in the midst of the presidential campaign, the candidate was dismayed at Frady's portrayal of him and threatened to sue for libel. Another of its more controversial aspects was its cover—a caricature of Wallace with a chin cleft that resembled a swastika (a symbol of the Nazi party). Frady chronicles Wallace's impoverished background and entry into politics, revealing that when Wallace and his first wife, Lurleen, moved into the governor's mansion in 1962, they owned only the clothes on their backs. Wallace also recounts the near-total control of Alabama that the governor obtained, including successfully running Lurleen for governor in 1966 because the state constitution limited the office to a single term.
Frady culled his portrait of Wallace from tape-recorded conversations that are transcribed in the biography. According to reviewers, Wallace thought that Frady was a sympathetic southerner and candidly gave his views (often inflammatory) on race, bigotry, and the violent nature of American society—in the process, offering insight into the ruthless political campaigns he was infamous for waging. A considerable focus of the biography is Wallace's early career in Alabama state politics. As a young legislator he had been a protégé of Governor "Big Jim" Folsom, who was known for supporting integration and held liberal views regarding African American rights; Wallace later married Folsom's niece in 1970. Wallace's initially moderate stance on race mirrored Folsom's, as Frady demonstrates, until he lost a 1958 election to a bigoted opponent.
Because of Wallace's status as a presidential candidate, the book's publication received intense media scrutiny. Some critics felt that Frady's treatment of his subject was too superficial and faulted his portrayal of Wallace as a populist hero without delving into the charges of corruption that plagued his political career. Other reviewers, however, praised Frady's biography as rich with insight. New York Review of Books contributor Elizabeth Hardwick, noting Frady's original intent to write a novel, remarked that the end result is a biography with "an unusually imaginative quality." In a New Republic article, Robert D. Novak asserted that Frady "has established new standards in political biography by ignoring stylistic traditions and instead seeking the essence and the spirit of this unique and terrifying political figure through novelistic techniques." Ben A. Franklin of the New York Times Book Review described Wallace as "one of the finest pieces of political reporting published in years—a sensitive, informed and funny feat of high journalism that is a classic of the kind." Saturday Review writer Ronnie Dugger suggested that "Frady's work should convince his readers that Wallace has discovered and is hollowing out a great darkness within the American possibility." Wallace entered the presidential political foray again in 1972, but was shot and wounded in Maryland while campaigning. Partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, he ran again in 1976, and a revised edition of Frady's biography was published the same year. The author added a 9,000-word addendum that incorporated the altered political climate of the 1970s as well as Wallace's triumph over adversity.
Frady continued in his career as a journalist, writing for such periodicals as Harper's and Life until 1973. Across a Darkling Plain: An American's Passage through the Middle East is a 1971 chronicle of the author's journey through Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. The author formed his impressions of the area through interviews with intellectuals, military personnel, and the rank-and-file; he presents them in the third person, referring to himself as "the American." Frady brings a southern perspective to his observations of life in the war-torn region, comparing Egypt to the American South in its adherence to a simpler way of life and its refusal to yield to the speed of the modern world. Despite his premise of objectivity, the author was dismayed by what he perceived as the nationalist outpost of modern technocratic civilization embodied in Israel. Alan Pryce-Jones of Book World noted that readers "may find the wrought prose and the third-person detachment a trifle daunting," but commended Frady's end result as "a sympathetic and evocative book."
Frady tackled a different icon of American fervor in his book on the popular and influential Reverend Billy Graham. For the 1979 biography, Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness, Frady draws upon his background as the son of a Baptist minister to portray Graham as the epitome of a peculiarly American postwar spiritual movement; Frady also speculates on what it is that drove Graham to achieve a global following. The volume chronicles Graham's rise from obscurity as a door-to-door salesperson to the leader of worldwide religious crusades that tempered a fireand-brimstone ethic with a contemporary agenda of political conservatism. Frady writes that Graham's career as an evangelist began in the late 1940s and was assisted when tradition-bound media moguls such as William Randolph Hearst championed his mission, garnering it extensive and favorable press coverage. Effectively utilizing the medium of television to bring supporters into his fold, Graham was a household name by the 1960s and was consistently cited in polls as one of the country's most-admired men.
Frady's biography of Graham was culled from four years of research and several extended interview sessions with the minister. The biography discusses the evangelist's particular message of salvation, which incorporates a Gospel-based ideology of love and temperance with a pro-American, anti-Communist sentiment. In discussing the minister's popularity, Frady asserts that "Graham has become the only familiar American paragon left; the last hero of the old American righteousness." Frady also chronicles the more controversial aspects of Graham's career as a friend and erstwhile golfing companion to the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Graham vociferously supported American involvement in Vietnam, and remained on Nixon's side even after the president resigned from office in 1974.
In reviewing Billy Graham, New York Times Book Review critic Garry Wills faulted Frady's use of "overripe Southern rhetoric," remarking that the author's "style, clinging and sweltering, will not refrain from five adjectives where one would do." Yet Wills granted that "Graham is our nation's least-studied national institution. Marshall Frady has finally given him the kind of attention he deserves, close and critical, not condescending." Lance Morrow of Time also commented on Frady's prose, describing it as "a hot-wired Southern lushness of phrase and fluorescence of effect that would be insufferable were it not so accurate, so funny and, sometimes, so moving."
Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey is a 1980 collection of eighteen of Frady's previously published magazine articles. The pieces, written for Newsweek, Life,and Harper's in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily focus on southern politics and personalities. Frady penned a profile of himself as an introduction, and each of the essays is premised by his commentary on the subject matter and followed by an update. One subject in the collection is a piece on former President Jimmy Carter, who, prior to 1976, had been governor of Georgia. Frady describes him at the time of his bid for national office as a "neat soft-spoken martinet of conscientiousness....Itwasasifhe were pursuing the Presidency through a kind of politics of niceness—a gentle, bread-pudding didacticism." Frady chronicles Carter's stint as governor, in addition to that of the more controversial Lester Maddox, and profiles other such luminaries as Georgia legislator and civil rights activist Julian Bond. Southerners also reflects upon past and present relations between blacks and whites as well as the legacy of slavery in the South. Frady once again draws upon his background as a North Carolina minister's son to provide insight into a peculiarly southern blend of fundamentalist religion and shady politics. Los Angeles Times critic Shaw faulted some aspects of the collection for "intrusive self-consciousness," but asserted that Frady "writes movingly of his feelings and of the feelings of his subjects." Robert Sherrill of the New York Times Book Review deemed Southerners full of "scenes you won't likely forget." The critic further praised Frady's evocation of the old South through extravagant prose, asserting that often the author's "results are excruciatingly sentimental or even incoherent. But when he brings it off, ah, the hair on your neck will stand up."
Frady tackled another controversial subject in his 1996 biography, Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson. Frady first met the black leader and heir presumptive to Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1960, then later followed Jackson in his 1988 campaigning for the failed presidential bid of Michael Dukakis, as well as during his own bids for the country's highest office. Frady's biography covers the high points of Jackson's career, from his blood-stained presence on television the day of King's assassination, through his successes and travails with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Reviewing the biography in Washington Monthly, Clarence Page felt that Frady "has written a hagiography worthy of Jackson's important place in history," though he also suspected that Jackson's "final chapters have yet to be written." According to Jack E. White, reviewing the title in Time, "Frady provides such a full-bodied portrait of this awesomely gifted but equally flawed man that it should provoke a repositioning of Jackson's place in history." Wayne Kayln, writing in People Weekly, also had praise for the book, noting that Frady's years of following Jackson for the biography resulted in the story of a "man of many parts," while the Nation's Debra Dickerson felt that Frady "seamlessly synthesizes" his decade of research and years of interviews with Jackson and his associates. "Frady is to be commended for putting Jackson's accomplishments in their proper perspective," Dickerson further commented. And Entertainment Weekly's Megan Harlan called Jesse a "galvanic, richly variegated, novelistic biography."
In 2001 Frady contributed a short biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the "Penguin Lives" series. K. Anthony Appiah, reviewing Martin Luther King, Jr. in the New York Review of Books, commented that the abbreviated text aims "to provide a lively narrative unencumbered by the scholarly apparatus of footnotes." Appiah further called Frady's work "engaging," a book that covers "elegantly and persuasively" the central facts of King's turbulent life. "Frady captures King in heroic moments and occasional failures alike," wrote a contributor for Kirkus Reviews, "delivering a nuanced portrait of a complex man." More praise for the King biography came from Thomas J. Davis in Library Journal, who observed that Frady's work "is an engrossing read for its literary prose, as well as for its tableau of the times and freshened perception of King as a personality." As with his Jackson biography, Frady was able to use his personal experience with King to add depth to his biography. Booklist's Vernon Ford felt that such experiences "add texture to this reflective look." And a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, while noting that the author covered King's negative sides—his philandering, for instance—as well as his positive aspects, concluded that "Frady's sensitive, succinct presentation never lets King's foibles obscure his tremendous contributions to American life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Frady, Marshall, Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1979.
Frady, Marshall, Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey, New American Library (New York, NY), 1980.
Book, January-February, 2002, Nathan Ward, "The >Man Who Would Be King," pp. 18-19.
Booklist, December 15, 2001, Vernon Ford, review of Martin Luther King, Jr., pp. 686-687.
Book World, May 2, 1971, Alan Pryce-Jones, review of Across a Darkling Plain, p. 8.
Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1979, Section 1, pp. 8, 10, Section C, pp. 8, 10.
Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 2002, Gerald Early, "A Short Biography of the Man with a Long-Term Dream," p. 15.
Entertainment Weekly, July 26, 1996, Megan Harlan, review of Jesse, p. 50.
Kirkus Reviews, review of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 1594.
Library Journal, December, 2001, Thomas J. Davis, review of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 138.
Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1980, David Shaw, review of Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey; July 2, 1996, Michael Kennedy, "Chronicling a Man Out of Time," p. E1; January 20, 2002, David J. Garrow, "How the Dream Unfolded," p. R9.
Nation, April 10, 1976, pp. 442-44; July 8, 1996, Debra Dickerson, review of Jesse, pp. 25-28.
New Leader, November 4, 1968, p. 20.
New Republic, October 12, 1968, Robert D. Novak, review of Wallace, pp. 33-35; July 15, 1996, Eugene D. Genovese, review of Jesse, pp. 29-34.
Newsweek, August 12, 1968, p. 82.
New Yorker, December 16, 1996, review of Jesse, p. 109.
New York Review of Books, November 7, 1968, Elizabeth Hardwick, review of Wallace, pp. 3-4; September 19, 1996, Gary Wills, review of Jesse, pp. 61-72; April 11, 2002, K. Anthony Appiah, "The House of the Prophet," pp. 79-83.
New York Times, May 22, 1979, p. C9; July 29, 1996, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Jesse, p. B2.
New York Times Book Review, October 6, 1968, Ben A. Franklin, review of Wallace, p. 3; April 11, 1976, pp. 4-5; May 20, 1979, Gary Wills, review of Billy Graham, pp. 1, 52-53; September 28, 1980, Robert Sherrill, review of Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey, pp. 3, 47; June 9, 1996, Alan Brinkley, review of Jesse, p. 12; January 27, 2002, Scott Malcomson, "King for Beginners," p. 10.
People Weekly, July 8, 1996, Wayne Kayln, review of Jesse, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, July 1, 1996, Norman Oder, "Marshall Frady: Into Jesse's World," pp. 38-39; November 5, 2001, review of Martin Luther King, Jr., pp. 49-50.
Saturday Review, October 5, 1968, Ronnie Dugger, review of Wallace, p. 26.
Social Science Quarterly, June, 1998, John Rouse, review of Jesse, pp. 478-479.
Time, May 28, 1979, Lance Morrow, review of Billy Graham, pp. 85-86; July 8, 1996, Jack E. White, review of Jesse, p. 69.
Washington Monthly, July-August, 1996, Clarence Page, review of Jesse, pp. 46-49.*