The Monkees drummer/singer Micky Dolenz has paid loving tribute to James Frawley, the prolific director of The Monkees series and The Muppet Movie, and many other projects over a long career behind the camera.
“Mourning the passing of James Frawley. Probably unbeknownst to many, Jim Frawley was profoundly instrumental in crafting what was to become the Emmy award-winning show, The Monkees,” Dolenz writes to Billboard in an email. “He not only coached us in the art of improvisation but brought to the party a brilliant sense of humor, a dazzling intellect, and the patience of a saint when it came to dealing with the completely off-the-wall antics of the improvisational, spontaneous monster that they had created…’They’ being, [director] Bob Rafelson, [producer] Bert Schneider, and, Jim Frawley.
And, believe me, at times we were, indeed, literally bouncing off the walls. I remember moments when they had to shut down the set because the spur-of-the-moment monster that they had created was about to go ballistic. I liken it to a fission reaction…if you keep the lid on too tight, the fire goes out. If you take the lid off, it burns a hole through the center of the earth.
To the credit of the producers, the writers, and largely to Jim Frawley, they somehow managed to sustain the reaction, control it, contain it, and use it to create a show that I feel blessed to be a part of and through the hard work of many, lives on to this day.”
According to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, Frawley died on Tuesday (Jan. 22) at his home in Indian Wells, Calif., at age 82 following a heart attack.
Frawley was born in Houston, T.X., on Sept. 29, 1936, and began his career as an actor with bit roles on Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, The Dick Van Dyke Show and My Favorite Martian in the early 1960s before taking the helm as the director of the madcap series centered on four lovable mop-topped musicians starring Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and the late Davy Jones.
After his stint directing The Monkees — for which he won an Emmy for outstanding directorial achievement in comedy for the show’s 1966 debut season — Frawley bounced between network TV series and movies, directing on Columbo, Magnum, P.I., Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Cagney & Lacey and Grey’s Anatomy, as well 1979’s The Muppet Movie and 1985’s sex comedy Fraternity Vacation, one of actor Tim Robbins’ first on-screen appearances.