Furth was born George Schweinfurth in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Evelyn (née Tuerk) and George Schweinfurth. He majored in drama & theatre at Northwestern University and received his master's degree from Columbia. He made his Broadway debut as an actor in the 1961 play A Cook for Mr. General, followed by the musical Hot Spot two years later, but in New York City theatre circles he is known more as a playwright than a performer, especially for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, the highly successful Company and the ill-fated Merrily We Roll Along, a bomb that eventually drew a cult following, and the play Getting Away with Murder. He also penned the plays Twigs, The Supporting Cast, and Precious Sons, and wrote the book for the Kander and Ebb musical The Act.
One of Furth's last writing projects was a foray into an area where he had not previously endeavored. Furth penned the lyrics for a musical revue, with music by Doug Katsaros. Furth and Katsaros shaped the work with San Francisco director Mike Ward into "The End-a new musical revue". The piece was performed at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center during the summer of 2004 and was billed as a "Pre-U.S. Tour Workshop Production". The piece was reworked twice, with the title changing to "Last Call" and "Happy Hour", respectively. Paula Holt was the primary producer of the project in all of its forms.
Frequently cast as a bespectacled, nerdish, ineffectual type, Furth appeared in such films as Blazing Saddles, The Best Man, Myra Breckinridge, Oh God!, Shampoo, Hooper, The Cannonball Run, Young Doctors in Love, Doctor Detroit, Bulworth, and in perhaps his best remembered role, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which he portrayed Woodcock, the railroad guard robbed twice by the titular pair. His many television credits include Tammy, McHale's Navy, F Troop, Ironside, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Green Acres, The Monkees, Batman, The Odd Couple, Bonanza, Happy Days, All in the Family, Murphy Brown, L.A. Law, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Murder, She Wrote, Little House on the Prairie, Love, American Style, Adam-12, F Troop and the made-for-TV movie The Scarlett O'Hara War, in which he portrayed famed film director George Cukor. He adapted his play, Twigs, for a 1975 television production starring Carol Burnett.
Furth won both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for Company, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play for Precious Sons.
The family of his brother's son-- Conrad and Sharon (divorced) and their children, Allison, Ashley and Tiffany-- currently reside in Chicago, Illinois.
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