Harry Smith narrates this account of the life and multi-faceted career of Frederick Hubbard Gwynne, who is born in New York City of Irish and British ancestry, and determines to develop his many talents, in art, writing, singing and acting, under his famous moniker as Fred Gwynne.
Dorothy Ficken Gwynne (mother) encourages Fred to develop his creative talents during his formative years, in drawing, painting and illustrating, as she also performs in artistic ventures.
Frederick Walker Gwynne (father) co-manages a securities firm and offers young Fred educational opportunities in prep school, at Groton, and college, at Harvard University, after Fred enlists in the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II, upon reaching his 18th birthday.
The Gwynne family would often travel to their Florida vacation residence, to mingle with affluent neighbors, but the family's life would change after the sudden loss of Frederick Walker Gwynne, at the young age of 50.
At Harvard University, Fred would devote his singing skills to the "Harvard Krokodiloes," and his cartooning skills to "Harvard Lampoon," and serve as its President, before graduating. Here, he would also act in the "Hasty Pudding" Theatricals shows.
Following his graduation, Fred Gwynne relocates to New York City, joining Brattle Theatre Repertory Company, to act on Broadway, while serving as a copy-writer at J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency for several years.
For his first Broadway role, he supports the legendary Helen Hayes in "Mrs. McThing" and continues to perform on stage and on NYC-based national television productions, such as "The Phil Silvers Show."
In 1961, Fred receives what many consider his "big break," as he lands a co-starring role in the television series "Car 54, Where Are You?" (1961-1963).
But Fred, now married to Foxy, together face personal tragedy as their first son develops a traumatic medical condition, and their second son loses his life in a drowning incident as an infant. Foxy and Fred also share a daughter born between the first two sons, and a daughter and son born afterward.
In addition to his appearing in "Hamlet" off Broadway, this episode discusses Fred Gwynne's Broadway credits include his performances in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Irma La Douce," "Love's Labour's Lost," and "Mrs. McThing."
During his career, Fred Gwynne also writes and illustrates children's books, which include examples which they list in this Biography: "The King Who Rained," "A Chocolate Moose for Dinner," "Best In Show," and "A Little Pigeon Toad" with impressive renderings, as he continues his life-long artistic proclivity.
Fred marries twice: Foxy Gwynne (1952–1980) and Deb Gwynne (1988–1993), who each appears in this episode as Interview Guests, along with Foxy and Fred's younger daughter, Madyn Gwynne.
Other Interview Guests for this episode consist of Actresses Elizabeth Ashley and Beverley Owen, Actors Hank Garrett, Al Lewis, Ralph Macchio, Butch Patrick and Daniel Roebuck, and Television Critic Matt Roush.
Archive footage includes Fred Gwynne with Co-stars Joe E. Ross, Joan Marshall, Yvonne De Carlo, Abby Dalton, Jill Clayburgh, Bob Hoskins, Lou Diamond Phillips, Joe Pesci and others in speaking or in non-speaking parts.
Television and Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Fred through the years, in scenes from "Car 54, Where Are You?" (1961-1963), "The Munsters" (1964-1966), "Munster, Go Home!" (1966), "Anderson and Company" (1969) (TV), "Luna" or "La luna" (1979), "The Cotton Club" (1984), "Disorganized Crime" (1989), "My Cousin Vinny" (1992) plus a sampling of Commercial acting and Voice-over coverage.
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