Fred Tobias, passed away peacefully at his home in Naples, Florida on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
Fred was born March 25, 1928 in New York City, where he lived until he and his wife Lee moved to Naples. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, Fred followed in the footsteps of his father, writer of such hit songs as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, “Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” and the Warner Brothers cartoon theme song, “Merrily We Roll Along”.
Over the next decade Fred wrote songs which were recorded by Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Perry Como, Roy Orbison, Patti Page and Elvis Presley. With his partner Stanley Lebowsky he wrote the only original song in the Bob Fosse film “All That Jazz”, which subsequently became the Tony Award winning musical “Fosse”.
With musical tastes changing, Fred turned to writing industrial shows for Westinghouse, Buick, General Motors of Canada and GE. He wrote for the legendary Milliken Breakfast Show for years, penning parodies performed by such luminaries as Ginger Rogers, Ray Bolger, Donald O’Connor and Phyllis Diller. While working on one of the General Motors of Canada shows he met Lee Sandford, an RN turned entertainer who was performing in the show. They married in 1986 and moved to Naples in 1990. They established themselves as members of the community and for the next fourteen years they wrote and performed a topical musical revue under the name “The Once In A While Players”. The revue was housed out of the Norris Center and Fred wrote a fresh show every year; he and Lee were given a key to the city when they retired.
An avid “Letters to the Editor” contributor, Fred was widely appreciated for his humorous one-liners.
Burial will be in Lee’s hometown of Toronto, Canada where they were planning to move at the time of his passing. Lee will be moving there alone.
Survivors include Fred’s beloved wife Lee, her brother Fred Sandford, Fred’s daughter Holly Tobias Browde and her husband Ric Browde. Fred was preceded in death by his brother Jerry and his parents Charles and Edna Tobias.
Donations in his name can be made to Avow Hospice of Naples and the Holocaust Museum of Naples.
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