Biographical Information:
Dates in Ridgefield: 1986-

author, journalist

Bill Franzen is a humor writer who began his career in the mail room of The New Yorker. His book, Hearing From Wayne--a collection of short stories, most of them reprinted from Gentlemen’s Quarterly, National Lampoon and The New Yorker--was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “carefully crafted studies in whimsey and moments of truth....” In Ridgefield, he is famous for having annually staged hilariously ghoulish Halloween extravaganzas on his front lawn, complete with smoke machines, a tumbledown shack, skeletons, mummies, severed body parts, and graveyards. These he displayed in as many as 20 elaborate tableaux with such evocative titles as “Alien Crash,” “Lunatic Asylum” and “Death in the Desert.” In 2006, he gave up the project–which over the years attracted thousands of visitors–and began giving away many props and equipment which he couldn’t bear to simply toss out. “I’m not going to throw away perfectly good rubber hands,” he told The Ridgefield Press, with typical drollery. Franzen is married to cartoonist Roz Chast. She hates Halloween.

Hearing From Wayne, 1988

–Sources: The New York Times, The New Yorker, Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, Ridgefield Press, Amazon