As a young man, Fred Gwynne wanted to be a portrait painter.  His mother, Dorothy Ficken Gwynne, an accomplished artist herself, encouraged him to develop his creative talents during his early years, in drawing, painting and illustrating.

When Fred went to Harvard University, he studied under R.S. Meryman, a noted portrait painter. After World War II, he continued his art study at the famed scholarly establishment and soon his creativeness  shone through. Eventually, his work was recognised when he became one of the cartoonists for the Harvard Lampoon.  

But Fred decided to go down the acting route, instead of painting, for his next career move....."I felt that because of colour photography few people would be willing to pay to have their portraits painted."  He later recalled.

  1. On the set of Car 54 Fred shows his handywork to co-star Joe E. Ross.
    On the set of Car 54 Fred shows his handywork to co-star Joe E. Ross.
When he was solidly established as a character actor, he found that his art had become a lucrative sideline.  He went on to write and illustrate numerous books. He even did artwork for other authors, including the sketches for George Martin's, The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice.

"I try to sell everything I do and I've been fairly successful." Commented Fred.  During the 1950s, a neighbour of his, in Bedford Village, New York, saw him sculpture a large wooden bird and said, 'I want that.' Fred had a terrible time trying to set a price finally going trembling to his wife, who gave him a figure which was duly accepted by the neighbour.

  1. Tinted, Lower Manhattan at Sunset (from the New Jersey Side) For the show called, Toody and the Art World, Fred did the artwork, for this painting, that was heavily featured in that classic episode.
    Tinted, Lower Manhattan at Sunset (from the New Jersey Side)   For the show called, Toody and the Art World, Fred did the artwork, for this painting, that was heavily featured in that classic episode.
The following sketches of the Car 54 cast were all drawn via the use of Fred's memory.  He would say this about his  technique, "If I doodle on the sides of my script I remember the doodles not the lines."