Furth, George 1932-2008 (George Scheinfurth)

views updated

Furth, George 1932-2008 (George Scheinfurth)


See index for CA sketch: Born December 14, 1932, in Chicago, IL; died August 11, 2008, in Santa Monica, CA. Actor and playwright. Fans of musical theater remember Furth for his award-winning collaborations with composer Stephen Sondheim. He won an Antoinette Perry Award and a Drama Desk Award for best book of a musical in 1971 for the stage musical Company. The play is a collection of vignettes revolving around a single character, Robert, a bachelor who tries to decide whether marriage is right for him by observing the married couples in his circle of friends. Furth employed a similar device in other plays, such as Twigs (1981), which usually features one actress playing the roles of four sisters as each spends a single day before Thanksgiving in her own kitchen. The Supporting Cast (1981) is a set of vignettes connected by a would-be author attempting to weave the lives of several friends into a single novel. Furth supported his writing career with character roles in dozens of television shows and films, from the alternative 1976 comedy series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman to the 1975 film Shampoo, starring and produced by his good friend Warren Beatty. He appeared in several Beatty films over the years. Furth may be most often recognized by filmgoers as Woodcock, the railway guard whose loyalty to "E.H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad" placed him in mortal danger, not once but twice, in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Furth appeared in at least a hundred television series and films between the early 1960s and 1998, when he made a brief appearance in the film Bulworth. Furth's most lasting and respected legacy, however, will be his contributions to the Broadway stage. Among his other plays are the Sondheim collaborations Merrily We Roll Along (1981), a musical, and Getting Away with Murder: A Comedy Thriller (1996), one of Sondheim's rare non-musical collaborations.



Chicago Tribune, August 13, 2008, sec. 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2008, p. B7.

New York Times, August 12, 2008, p. C9.

Washington Post, August 13, 2008, B7.