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Iowa History Daily: February 26 - Burlington Actor William Frawley

Iowa History Daily: On February 26, 1893, William Frawley was born in Burlington. An actor best known for his role as Fred on “I Love Lucy,” Frawley also played Bub O’Casey on the popular program “My Three Sons.”

Growing up in eastern Iowa, Frawley got his start on local stages. While attending Catholic school in Burlington, Frawley sang in the choir at St. Paul’s Catholic Church and appeared in small roles in amateur productions at the Burlington Opera House. Frawley moved around after high school, working in several unfulfilling jobs while trying to appease his mother by avoiding his passion for performing.

After briefly forming a vaudeville act with his brother, Frawley eventually left the Midwest to pursue his acting dreams. Starting on Broadway with 1925’s “Merry, Merry,” he soon developed his acting abilities into a career which resulted in a contract with Paramount Pictures. National audiences first met Frawley when he appeared in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) as Judge Harper's (Gene Lockhart) political adviser who warns his client in great detail of the dire political consequences if he rules that there is no Santa Claus.

By 1951, the 64-year-old Frawley had appeared in over 100 movies, but started to find film role offers growing more scarce. When Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball started a new television situation comedy, he applied to play the role of the cantankerous, miserly landlord Fred Mertz. Frawley next joined the cast of the situation comedy My Three Sons, playing live-in grandfather and housekeeper Michael Francis, then "Bub" O'Casey beginning in 1960. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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