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.
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.