Obituary: Franklin Garfield Marshall, Jr., 1933-2017 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Franklin Garfield Marshall, Jr., 1933-2017 

Published May 24, 2017 at 5:30 a.m. | Updated May 26, 2017 at 9:59 a.m.

click to enlarge Franklin Garfield Marshall, Jr.
  • Franklin Garfield Marshall, Jr.

Franklin Garfield Marshall, Jr., a true storyteller, like the raconteurs of old, left this life on May 20, 2017, as he preferred to live it: in his house on Lake Champlain, surrounded by those he loved, and with a glass of red wine by his side.

Frank was born and presumed still-born on August 1, 1933 to Franklin Garfield Marshall and Ada Winn Marshall in Springfield, Massachusetts. When the infant was discovered alive hours later, the heat from a nearby radiator was credited with reviving him. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Frank grabbed the following 83+ years with both hands, until the cancer that he had staved off for several years finally had the last word.

Frank embarked upon his professional career in New York armed only with his wits and a singular ability for writing prose. Hanging out a shingle with Phil Bloom, he launched the firm of Marshall and Bloom writing position papers and making industrial films for corporate clients. Frank’s ability to translate complex concepts for different audiences earned him the reputation of being an “out of the box” thinker. It was during this time as a consultant he introduced one of his clients, Xerox, to the idea of underwriting special programming for television resulting in such ground-breaking programs as Roots, Nicholas Nickelby, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, to name a few.

The overwhelming success of Xerox Presents led to formation of his own production company --Reeves Communication-- which produced a string of successful shows such as Electric Company, Sesame Street, Kate and Allie and That's Incredible! At the same time he served as the creative force and executive producer for Mobil Oil Corp.'s Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery productions, including The First Churchills, Elizabeth R, I, Claudius, and Edward and Mrs. Simpson. Upstairs Downstairs which was aired in 1974 and became an immediate sensation, winning numerous national and international awards.

Frank is survived by Val Hird, six children (Kathleen Marshall, Kenneth & Elizabeth Marshall, Jonathan & Gregg Ross, and Blackwell Hird), their spouses, and eight grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, may we suggest a visit to Frank’s blog, to enjoy a few of the stories that Frank so loved to share at Frank may not be happy with any formal fuss: but we know he will be pleased with increased readership!

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