Eddie Foy

Eddie Foy III, left, signs a copy of his book, “Show Business, The Foy Way: Memoir of a Hollywood Casting Director,” for Dennis Sychra during RAGBRAI’s visit to Denison on July 22. Foy and his wife, Jan, left southern California and made Denison their home in March.

DENISON, Iowa — A celebration of the life of Eddie Foy III will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Donna Reed Theater. The event is open to the public.

Foy was an award-winning Hollywood casting director who moved to Denison in March with his wife, Jan.

Foy died Nov. 3 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he had been hospitalized after suffering a fall at his home. He was 83 years old.

He was a casting director for hundreds of television shows that became ingrained in the social consciousness in America, among them “The Donna Reed Show,” which starred the Denison native by the same name. He cast classics such as “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy” and “I Dream of Jeannie,” among others.

Foy became acquainted and then fell in love with Denison after teaching workshops at the Donna Reed Performing Arts Festival.

“I came here just to look at what they were doing with the Donna Reed Foundation, because they asked me to teach, and I kept saying to myself, ‘This is a place I think I’d like to live,’ ” Foy said during an interview this summer.

Foy also gave Omaha-born Swoosie Kurtz one of her first big breaks after a play at Hollywood High School.

“We were backstage after the performance getting ready to meet our families when I was told there was a man who wants to see you, Eddie Foy III,” Kurtz remembered in 2013.

“He was a famous casting director. He said, ‘I thought you were wonderful in the play. I want to put you on “The Donna Reed Show.” ’ It was a big deal. I had to get my SAG card. I had to get out of school to shoot it.”

After Foy and Jan met in 1995, she accompanied him on his trips to Denison every summer that the Donna Reed Foundation hosted the festival and workshops.

“Most of it was getting away from the rat race,” Jan said. “When we drove from airport to here, we both were quiet. We looked at each other and said it’s so green, so refreshing.”

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.