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Hollywood Memorial

William Frawley

Veteran character actor best known for his portrayal of Lucille Ball’s gruff landlord ‘Fred Mertz’ on the groundbreaking 1950’s television sitcom ‘I Love Lucy.’ By the time Frawley came to ‘I Love Lucy’ he was a veteran of vaudeville, Broadway and over 100 Hollywood films. When Frawley approached Lucille Ball about a part in ‘I Love Lucy’ in 1951, she was surprised to hear from a man she barely knew from the 1940’s. Lucy responded, ‘Bill Frawley, how are you?’ and promised to discuss the matter with Desi Arnaz. Arnaz agreed that Frawley would be wonderful for the ‘Fred Mertz’ role, but shared the network’s concern over his reputation for instability and drinking problems. Arnaz immediately leveled with Frawley about CBS’s reservations. He denied it, but Desi warned him that if he was late to work, or unable to perform except because of legitimate illness more than once, he’d be written out of the show. So began the saga that continued until 1957 when ‘Lucy’ went off of prime time after 179 episodes. On the evening of March 3, 1966 while strolling down Hollywood Blvd. after seeing a movie, Frawley suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He was rushed to nearby Hollywood Receiving Hospital where he was pronounced dead, a week after his seventy-ninth birthday. He is buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery just outside Los Angeles.