MELVIN FRANK, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR AND WRITER OF MOVIES, DIES AT 75
By GLENN COLLINS
Published: October 15, 1988
Melvin Frank, half of a prolific team that wrote, produced and directed some of Hollywood's wittiest
romantic comedies, including ''Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,'' died of complications
from open-heart surgery on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 75 years old.
Mr. Frank, who had more than 35 movies to his credit, was born in Chicago and was graduated
from the University of Chicago. There he met Norman Panama, who was to become his writing
and producing collaborator for close to a quarter of a century.
The two moved to Hollywood in 1938, where they became writers for the Bob Hope radio show,
leading to their first screenwriting venture with Mr. Hope, ''My Favorite Blonde,'' in 1942.
Subsequently they wrote ''The Return of October,'' ''The Reformer and the Redhead'' and their first
''road'' picture for Mr. Hope and Bing Crosby, ''Road to Utopia.''
In 1947, Mr. Frank and Mr. Panama wrote and produced ''Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,''
which starred Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas. Bosley Crowther praised the film in The
New York Times, writing that it offered ''as much casual fun as can be looked for on our sparsely
The team of Frank and Panama were accustomed to alternating as producers and directors of
their films, which in the 1950's included ''Strictly Dishonorable,'' ''Above and Beyond,'' ''Callaway
Went Thataway,'' ''The Facts of Life'' and two Danny Kaye comedies, ''Knock on Wood'' and ''The
In 1956 the team also wrote and produced a Broadway musical, ''Li'l Abner,'' based on the Al Capp
comic strip; they also made it into a movie, in 1959.
The two men ended their partnership amicably after writing and producing ''The Road to Hong
Kong,'' their final road picture for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, in 1960.
Mr. Frank subsequently produced and was a co-writer of the film version of ''A Funny Thing
Happened on the Way to the Forum'' (1966) and in 1973 was director, producer and co-writer of ''A
Touch of Class,'' for which Glenda Jackson won the Academy Award as best actress. His last
picture, released in 1979, was ''Lost and Found,'' with George Segal and Glenda Jackson.
Mr. Frank is survived by his second wife, Juliet; a daughter, Elizabeth; two sons, Andrew and
James, and three grandchildren.
On my trip to California in 2012 I went to a Jam session at the Twin
Palms in Palm Springs where I met Jimmy Frank. I have no real
photograph of Jimmy as he is playing the piano to the right of the
camera. We jammed together and I enjoyed the set and we agreed that
I should phone Jimmy when I got back to Spain regarding his music with
Ronnie Lane and others including Gerry Rafferty and Tom Robinson.
However, there is far more to the story as Jimmy has a really famous
father and he is now writing film scores. Listen to the podcast especially
near the end when Jimmy tells me about his dad. I have added a
newspaper article below to help understand who Jimmy is.