Freddie Prinze

Freddie became a star practically overnight and burned brightly…but unfortunately, it was only for a brief amount of time.

Freddie Prinze was a comedian whose real name was Frederick Karl Pruetzel. He was born in 1954 in New York. His mother was of Puerto Rican descent and his father was of Hungarian roots…two things he used in his comedy.

He worked in clubs in the early seventies and then he got his break. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on December 6, 1973, and Johnny called him over to his couch to talk to him. That was a dream to performers then. Being called to the couch meant Johnny liked you and could make your career. Remember no internet or other exposure to this big of an audience. He became a star overnight. Freddie was 19 years old.

Within a few months, he was starring with Jack Albertson on the hit show Chico and the Man.

The show had a supporting cast of Scatman Crothers and Della Reese. It had a cool factor with teenagers at the time because of Freddie. Chico and the Man was not a great sitcom but a good one that captured a talented young comedian on his way up.

Freddie came out with a 70’s catchphrase “Looking Good” with a comedy album of the same name. He appeared in one TV movie called The Million Dollar Rip-Off and an HBO On Location: Freddie Prinze and Friends.

Freddie suffered from depression and he had a dependency on drugs that kept growing like his fame.

Through all of this, he got married and had a son…the actor Freddie Prinze Jr… His wife started to move toward a divorce and a despondent Prinze shot himself in a hotel room and died the next day on January 29, 1977, only 3 years after his introduction to the world by Johnny Carson.

People don’t remember how big Freddie was then. He was so young and vibrant when he made it…he was just 22 years old when he died.

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

16 thoughts on “Freddie Prinze”

  1. I watched this show when it was on but back then as a teenager I tended to watch about everything. We got three channels and that helped to narrow down your choices. I came across this show a few years ago and watched an episode just to see how my memory on the show held up. Back in the 70’s I thought like you said- it was good not great. I only watched one episode a few years ago but I didn’t think it held up well at all. The show was a good starting point for an up and rising comic. I think had he chose to live he would have been successful. I remember him coming off as being likable. Hard to believe he was only twenty-two.

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    1. You know the funny thing is what I remember the most for some reason is Tony Orlando always joking how they looked like each other. That sticks in my mind. I have watched Chico since and thought the same thing. The show was for the time and to showcase him… I had forgotten they tried to carry on with the show after he died. They got a little boy to take his place.

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      1. I forgot that too- about the show continuing… there was no reason for it to do so after Freddy’s passing.

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      2. I guess the only episode that is worth watching is a scene by Jack Albertson trying to explain to the kid what happened to the “other” Chico…but no they should not have went on without Freddie.

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  2. Two things I didn’t realize -Jack Albertson won an Emmy as The Man one year and in its first year it was the 3rd most popular show in the Neilson ratings.. it quicky sunk after that #25 in year two and not in Top 30 the remaining two seasons.

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    1. I didn’t know that but Albertson was always good in anything he was in. Like we were saying… watching it today it has it’s moments but is just a formula-driven show… Prinze just rose too quickly. In three years that was incredible to me.

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      1. I remember his death well it was pretty shocking at the time. Albertson passed away from cancer in 1981 only a few years after Prinze.

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      2. It was shocking to me. I was thinking to myself as a kid…he is too young this isn’t possible… I remember I was in Jr High when Albertson died. Two celebrity deaths really shocked me as a kid…the very first was Jim Croce because my sister had his albums and I knew who he was…and then Freddie Prinze. I was learning about death along with dying relatives.

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      3. It is hard to believe that Jim Croce was only thirty – he seemed much older. I had his albums too some of the first ones I ever owned. Aircraft tragedies sure took their toll on musicians for a few decades. .. I always think of going to school and hearing the news of the Lynyrd Skynyrd crash… a classmate telling about it and saying “I saw him in concert last summer.”…. must have been a huge fan.

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      4. I do remember when the plane crashed that was carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd. Where I live there are a lot of fans. I’m not a fan but I will say their album Street Survivors may have broken them more into the mainstream as a band from the south instead of a southern rock band…. Jim Croce’s acoustic playing was great. It was just tragic with both because they were on the rise

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      5. I was not a Skynyrd fan at the time but do appreciate some of Ronnie Van Zants songs now– just don’t want to ever hear Free Bird again!!

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      6. Oh I’m with you on that Free Bird part! I just read a book by their tour manager. Their influence was British rock… and I see that more now. He was a good songwriter… I just didn’t like the whole southern rock thing… which country is now…if their new direction would have been the song I Never Dreamed off of Street Survivors I would have liked them more.

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      7. The only southern rock that I could say I liked – Allman Brothers and some Skynyrd– the rest of it I will pass. … the country music of today… beyond awful. Sad…

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      8. It’s a terrible shame what they have done to country music… I never considered the Allman Brothers southern rock but I probably should have… they were just on a different planet… what a talented band… hope this isn’t a double post… lost internet connection

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  3. You are correct though. They are credited with starting southern rock but to me, they just sounded different than anyone else. They threw jazz, blues, rock and everything else in the mix. Jerry Garcia once said that the Allman Brothers were the southern version of the Grateful Dead…I can see that with the jamming on stage part.

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