I’m saddened to hear of the death of John Furia, Jr., one of the WGA’s giants, and a fine screen and television writer.
I served with John briefly on the negotiating committee in 2004, but more extensively on the Executive Search Committee in 2005. Like everyone else who spent time with John, I was impressed with his intelligence, diplomacy and gentility of spirit.
John was a long-time Guild politician who understood that governance didn’t have to be a combat sport. It didn’t matter if I agreed with him or disagreed with him on any particular point; John had a way of making everyone in the room feel like a welcome and integral part of the process. His was an enormously influential voice in our union, and he continued to share his considerable skills and wisdom with our union long after his official term as President had ended.
In that sense, John defined what it meant to be an eminence grise in our union and our business, and I have no doubt that he will be mourned equally by writers, directors and even the studios with whom he so frequently negotiated on our collective behalf.
Here is Patric Verrone’s lovely note to the WGAw membership. I think Patric does a great job of conveying why this is a real loss not only to Mr. Furia’s immediate family, but to his extended family of 7,500 writer members of the WGAw.
To My Fellow Members,
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of our Guild’s beloved former president, John Furia, Jr. His death was peaceful but unexpected and his loss is made all the more tragic by our inability to say good bye.
No single person served our union in as many capacities as John. He was a board member and president from 1973 to 1975, served on innumerable committees including several negotiating committees (chairing in 2004), and he was chair of the East/West National Council from 2005 to 2007. He was also a past president of the WGAW Foundation and still served as its Vice President for Programs.
The WGAW recognized John’s dedication with all three of our honorary awards including the Morgan Cox Award (for service to the Guild) in 1978, the Valentine Davies Award (for public service) in 1990, and the rarely bestowed Edmund H. North Award (for Guild leadership and professional achievement) in 1994.
John’s service to writers was not limited to his Guild work. He was a former governor of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a founding trustee of the Humanitas Prize, and a consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was the founding chair of the Division of Writing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television where he was a full professor of screen and television writing.
John’s professional career spanned nearly three decades as a writer-producer. His television credits include episodes of The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, The Waltons, and Hawaii 5-0; showrunning Kung-Fu, The Dirty Dozen, and the long running public service series Insight; and mini-series The Blue Knight, Sidney Sheldon’s Rage of Angels, and The Sun Also Rises. His screen credits included The Singing Nun and A Change of Habit.
Such a remarkable list of achievements and recognition does not do justice to the stature of a man whose character and dignity touched and influenced generations of writers from the founders of the Guild to its newest student-associates. John had the rare capacity to bridge political divides in our union as no one else did and he was truly loved and respected by everyone who knew him. For those of us who relied on John’s knowledge and his counsel, he was more than an éminence grise; he was pure eminence. In A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt wrote, “Death comes for us all. Even for kings he comes.” Today he came for a king.
On behalf of the members of the Writers Guild of America West, I extend deep and heartfelt condolences to John’s wife Mary and his seven children. May he rest in peace.
Patric M. Verrone President, WGAW