William Frawley began his performance career at a young age in Burlington, Iowa, where he sang in Burlington’s St. Paul Catholic Church choir. Frawley went on to perform at the Burlington Opera House and by the age of 21 he was in Chicago appearing in musicals.
William Frawley and his brother Paul formed a vaudeville act, which he maintained for many years until Paramount Pictures signed the actor to a long-term contract in the early 1950s. By the time Desi Arnaz hired Frawley for the part of Fred Mertz in “I Love Lucy,” the actor had made over 100 films and gained a reputation for drinking and bad behavior. Frawley maintained his good behavior for the run of the show, but poor health forced him to retire in 1965. William Frawley died soon after in 1966.