William Froug, Primetime Emmy-Winning Writer-Producer and Longtime UCLA Professor
A writer and producer for The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island and other popular series, Froug won his Emmy for the anthology series Alcoa Theatre.
WIlliam Froug, a writer and producer who worked on several top series in the 1960 and 1970s, died August 25, 2013, in Sarasota, Florida. He was 91.
Born in New York City, Froug was adopted by William and Rita Froug, who maintained a chain of department stores in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Froug was raised in Little Rock and graduated from Little Rock Senior High School in 1939. His family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, while he matriculated to the University of Missouri, where he received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1943.
Upon graduation, he entered the Navy, having been selected for the V7 Officer Training Program at Columbia University. A so-called “90 Day Wonder,” Froug served as an officer aboard a Subchaser in the Pacific, stationed at Pearl Harbor during WWII. He was given command of his own ship, the PC800, in 1945.
After his honorable discharge in 1946, he pursued his passion for writing. He sold his first novella to True Detective magazine in 1946. He then moved into radio writing and by 1956 had become vice president, programs, for CBS Radio Hollywood. His radio work included producing, directing and adapting a radio version of author Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which has been listed as one of the greatest 50 radio programs of the 20th century.
Froug then transitioned into television and achieved further success as a writer and producer. He received a Primetime Emmy as a producer of the anthology series Alcoa Theatre for an acclaimed episode called "Eddie," which stared Mickey Rooney. In 1967 he received an Emmy nomination as a producer of the popular comedy series Bewitched.
His other credits included Playhouse 90, The Dick Powell Theatre, Adventures in Paradise, The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island, Quincy M.E., The Paper Chase and Charlie's Angels.
James Michener sent Froug a telegram congratulating him on the script he wrote for “Angel of Death” episode of the series Adventures in Paradise, calling it, “A real achievement.”
Froug later became executive producer in charge of drama for CBS and began lecturing at USC’s Film School. After seven years he left USC for a position as an adjunct professor at UCLA in the school's screenwriting program. In time he became a full professor and department chair. In these roles he revamped the screenwriting program and taught select graduate-level courses. He retired in 1987.
During his years in academia, Froug authored numerous books on screenwriters and screenwriting, which are consistently ranked in the Top 10 of all screenwriting books and were widely used as college textbooks for decades. In The Ultimate Writer’s Guide to Hollywood, author Skip Press describes Froug’s Screenwriting Tricks of the Trade as “one of the best screenwriting books I’ve ever read” and includes it in his Top 10 Hollywood Reads.
Writing about the 2007 film Man in the Chair, Roger Ebert noted, “I know an old writer. His name is William Froug, he lives in Florida, and if you look him up on Amazon, you will see he is still writing brilliant and useful books about screenwriting and teleplays. He is not merely as sharp as a tack; he is the standard by which they sharpen tacks. If he had been advising the kid, the kid would have made a better movie, and if had been advising the director of The Man in the Chair, we would have been spared the current experience. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you have to be a decrepit caricature. One thing that keeps Froug young is that, unlike [protagonist] Flash Madden, he almost certainly does not sit on an expressway overpass guzzling Jack Daniels from a pint bottle.”
In addition to his work as a writer, producer and professor, Froug was a social and political activist in the Hollywood community. He also held leadership roles with the Producers Guild of America and Writers Guild of America, West, which in 1987 honored him with its prestigious Valentine Davies Award.
In addition, Froug was selected as one of the Emmy Legends of Television by the Television Academy Foundation's Archive of American Television.
More about Froug's life and work is available at: