James Frawley

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James Frawley

James Frawley

Photo credit: 
Courtesy Cynthia Frawley

James Frawley

Date of Birth

Date of Birth: September 29, 1936
Date of Passing: January 22, 2019
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Obituary: Hollywood Reporter

James Frawley was an American director and actor.

A native New Yorker, he attended the Peddie School and Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, Frawley studied at the Actor's Studio under Lee Strasberg, and they became friends.

His first Broadway appearance was in Stephen Sondheim's musical Anyone Can Whistle with Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury. He appeared in Jean Anouilh's Becket with Laurence Olivier, and Samuel Beckett's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Christopher Plummer. Membership in the improvisational group The Premise soon followed, with fellow performers Buck Henry and George Segal.

James Frawley was an American director and actor.

A native New Yorker, he attended the Peddie School and Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, Frawley studied at the Actor's Studio under Lee Strasberg, and they became friends.

His first Broadway appearance was in Stephen Sondheim's musical Anyone Can Whistle with Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury. He appeared in Jean Anouilh's Becket with Laurence Olivier, and Samuel Beckett's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Christopher Plummer. Membership in the improvisational group The Premise soon followed, with fellow performers Buck Henry and George Segal.

Frawley broke into the television with acting credits on Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits, Perry Mason, Dr. Kildare, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hogan’s Heroes, McHale’s Navy, I Spy, and The Fugitive.

Because of his background in improvisational acting and comedy, Frawley was chosen by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to teach and direct four actor/musicians in the art of improvisation. The project became The Monkees, starring Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 1967 for the episode “Royal Flush” and was nominated the following year for the episode “The Devil and Peter Tork.” Frawley went on to direct about half of the show’s 58 episodes.

Frawley also directed episodes of That Girl, Magnum, P.I., The New Mike Hammer, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Cagney & Lacey, Columbo, Law & Order, Melrose Place, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Judging Amy, Smallville, and Grey’s Anatomy.

Frawley did many movies for television but was also known for directing television pilots. In addition to his Emmy win for The Monkees pilot, Frawley received two Emmy nominations for directing the pilot episodes of Ally McBeal and Ed.

Muppets creator Jim Henson, after seeing Frawley's work on The Monkees, hired him in 1979 to direct The Muppet Movie, where Kermit the frog and his friends travel across America to find success in Hollywood. The film’s all-star cameos gave Frawley a chance to direct Orson Welles, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Mel Brooks.

He was married to Cynthia Frawley for 35 years.

Frawley died January 22, 2019, in Indian Wells, California. He was 82.

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Awards & Nominations

4 Nominations | 1 Emmy
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