William Frawley was forced to play roles that made him miserable
He said many of his roles were phony, but he loved playing Bub on My Three Sons and Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy.
When you look at William Frawley, two characters come to mind: Fred Mertz and Bub. The I Love Lucy and My Three Sons roles were among the few that Frawley actually enjoyed playing. He could be seen in over 100 films, several television shows and on Broadway throughout his career, but he loathed many of the parts he played.
He began his career in 1914 as a comedy duo with his ex-wife Edna Louise Broedt, and their comedy act "Frawley and Louise" continued until 1927, when they divorced. After appearing on Broadway and in films because of his seven-year Paramount Pictures contract, he moved on to television to play his most-known roles.
"I am today the same as I was at 20," he told The Asbury Park Press in 1962, days before his 69th birthday. "I never played the phony by putting on a sweet act for people I didn't like. That's not fair to the people you do like. The people who accept you for what you are, those are really people!"
Frawley was a veteran actor with a reputation for being cranky and mean, like his I Love Lucy and My Three Sons characters. However, being forced to play roles that made him miserable could be why he acted that way.
"Can you imagine me in silk pantaloons and turban as the keeper of a harem? Well, that is the kind of role(s) they threw at me. And, even though they forced me to play them, I had the satisfaction of burning their ears pretty good," he added.
He took those roles and played them to the best of his ability but thought they were phony, especially his film roles.
"But, I never hit my stride in movies. [Almost] all my roles were phony and I was miserable playing them. Television, now, that was a Godsend for me. At last, I was playing characters I really liked."
A sentence from the newspaper article stated, "Actually, what Frawley meant was that at last he was given the opportunity to play himself."
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I could be wrong.
However, the entertainment industry is built on illusion. Not quite sure what he expected. I also couldn't see him playing anything except himself. To the extent that we all knew people in our lives with his kind of a disposition, he represented real life.
Wiki doesn't show that he won any Emmys or Awards. I wonder if it was because of his personality. Because nominations and winning, is driven by politics and connections.
Enjoyed William Frawley in his many roles, including Fred Mertz and Bub.
But it probably took a lot to really rile Desi. They needed him in that part. And the bottom line was probably just showing up. Sober, that is.