He Was The Grumpy Old Neighbor We All Loved
Fred and Ethel Mertz weren’t only the Ricardo’s neighbors. They were our neighbor’s too.
One of the most iconic television shows of all time is, of course, ‘I Love Lucy’.
For 6 years beginning in 1951 (plus some one-hour specials later in the decade), everyone (and I mean virtually everyone!) followed the antic’s of Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred. Not only were the Mertz’s Lucy and Ricky’s neighbors…Fred was the landlord as well.
It seems almost all great TV comedies have great supporting players. Kramer in ‘Seinfeld’, Barney on ‘Andy Griffith Show’ along with many others.
So it was with the character of Fred Mertz.
Fred was portrayed perfectly by actor William Frawley. Having appeared in over 100 movies prior to ‘I Love Lucy’, Frawley was no stranger to the camera, but this would be the role that placed him squarely in the hearts of the public.
Despite the fact that Frawley was known to have some, uh, drinking issues (and the fact that his contract stated he would have time off during the World Series if his beloved Yankees were in it…and they always were), Desi Arnaz took a chance, rolled the dice, and the rest is television history.
You may remember Frawley as well for his role for a time on ‘My Three Sons’.
So whatever happened to William Frawley?
He passed away from a heart attack in March of 1966 at the age of 79.
But while William Frawley may be gone, Fred Mertz never will be, thanks to rerun’s of what many call the greatest show in television history.