FREDDIE PRINZE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Freddie Prinze                                                                     
Birth name: Frederick Karl Pruetzel                                                       
Born: 22 June 1954 New York, New York, U.S.                                               
Died: 29 January 1977 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                       
Freddie Prinze (June 22, 1954 – January 29, 1977), was an American actor and           
stand-up comedian. In his short career he was best known as the star of Chico             
and the Man. He is the father of actor Freddie Prinze, Jr.                               
Prinze was born Frederick Karl Pruetzel at St. Clair's Hospital in New York City,         
the son of Karl and Maria Pruetzel. His mother was Puerto Rican Catholic and his         
father was a German Jewish immigrant from post-Nazi Germany.                             
Prinze was raised in a Hispanic section in Washington Heights, New York City.             
Prinze began his education at a private Lutheran school, in a religious                   
compromise by his parents (though his mother took him to Catholic mass on                 
Sundays). When Prinze was a small child, his mother enrolled him in ballet               
classes to deal with his weight problem. Without telling his parents, Prinze             
successfully auditioned for the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing           
Arts, where he was introduced to drama and continued ballet — and where he             
discovered his gift for comedy while entertaining crowds in the boys' restroom.           
He dropped out of school in his senior year to become a stand-up comedian.               
Prinze worked at several comedy clubs in New York City, including The Improv and         
Catch a Rising Star where he introduced himself to audiences as a "Hungarican" (part     
Hungarian, part Puerto Rican). For the sake of his budding comedic career, he             
changed his surname to "Prinze", which he chose because, according to his friend         
David Brenner, he originally wanted to be known as the King of comedy, but Alan           
King already had that last name, so he would be the Prince of comedy instead.             
In 1973, he made his first television appearance on one of the last episodes of           
The Jack Paar Show. In December 1973, his biggest break came with an appearance           
on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Prinze was the first young comedian           
to be asked to have a sit-down chat with Carson on his first appearance. (Prinze         
appeared on and guest hosted The Tonight Show on several other occasions).               
From 1974 to 1977, Prinze starred as Francisco "Chico" Rodriguez in the NBC TV           
series Chico and the Man with Jack Albertson. The show was an instant hit.               
Prinze made several appearances on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, most                 
notably at the roasts for Sammy Davis Jr. and Muhammad Ali.                               
In 1975, he released a comedy album that was taped live at Mr. Kelly's in                 
Chicago titled Loooking Good — his catch phrase from Chico and the Man. In 1976,       
he starred in a made-for-TV movie, The Million Dollar Rip-Off.                           
Prinze had a little-known talent for singing, examples of which could be heard           
in the background of the title song of the Tony Orlando and Dawn album To Be             
With You, in his appearances on their variety show, and on rare occasions on his         
own sitcom.                                                                               
About four months prior to his death, Prinze had signed a multi-year deal with           
NBC worth $US 6 million dollars over five years.                                         
In the months before he died, he had a strong fixation on how John F. Kennedy             
was assassinated. He also developed an obsession with the film Taxi Driver,               
viewing it repeatedly.                                                                   
Upon becoming wealthy, Prinze took martial arts lessons from Robert Wall, a               
student of Bruce Lee who appeared in Enter the Dragon and Return of the Dragon.           
Soon after, Wall became godfather to Prinze's newborn son Freddie Prinze, Jr.             
During the early morning hours of January 28, 1977, after receiving a                     
restraining order from his ex-wife the previous evening, Prinze, who                     
occasionally told friends that "life isn't worth living", made a series of               
farewell phone calls to family, friends and management from his hotel room at             
the Beverly Comstock Hotel. His business manager, Marvin "Dusty" Snyder, was             
alarmed after receiving one of the calls and rushed over to Prinze's room. When           
Snyder arrived, Prinze continued his rueful phone calls, telling his mother "Mom,         
I love you very much, but I can't go on. I need to find peace." Snyder called             
Prinze's psychologist from the next room about what was happening, but the               
psychologist insisted that Prinze was in no actual danger. Snyder returned to             
Prinze, who supposedly called his ex-wife and said "I love you, Kathy. I love             
the baby, but I need to find peace. I can't go on." After the call, Prinze               
pulled out a gun from the sofa. Snyder tried to intervene, but Prinze shot               
himself in the head, and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center to be placed on           
life support following emergency surgery. Prinze's family removed him from life           
support, and he died at 1:00 pm on January 29 at the age of 22.