Freddie Prinze Biography

Freddie Prinze was a famous American stand-up comedian and actor. This biography profiles his childhood, family, personal life, career, etc.

Freddie Prinze
Quick Facts

Birthday: June 22, 1954

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors Comedians

Died At Age: 22

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Freddie James Prinze

Born in: Hell's Kitchen, New York City, New York

Famous as: Actor

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Kathy Prinze (m. 1975–1977)

father: Karl Pruetzel

mother: Maria Pruetzel

children: Freddie Prinze Jr.

Died on: January 29, 1977

place of death: Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Diseases & Disabilities: Depression

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Cause of Death: Suicide

epitaphs: We Love You. Psalm 23

More Facts

education: Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts

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Freddie Prinze was a famous American stand-up comedian and actor who had everything going for him at the age of 22, when he suddenly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. He is best known for the ‘NBC’ TV serial ‘Chico and the Man,’ where he played the part of ‘Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez.’ He married Katherine Elaine Cochran, and they had a son, Freddie Prinze Jr. However, he often suffered from depression. He was addicted to drugs, and his condition worsened after his wife filed for divorce. He was known as a “Hungarican” (part Hungarian and part Puerto Rican) performer and changed his stage name to “Prinze” to proclaim himself as the “Prince” of comedy. At the age of 19, he became the youngest comedian to be invited to a sit-down chat with Carson on his show, ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.’ Freddie Prinze made his only appearance in TV films with the lead role in ‘The Million Dollar Rip Off’ on ‘NBC.’ He received a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ after his death, and his body was finally put to rest at the ‘Forest Lawn Memorial Park.’ His legacy in Hollywood is being carried forward by his son Freddie Prinze Jr., who is a well-known American actor.

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Freddie Prinze
Childhood & Early Life
  • Frederick Karl Pruetzel was born on June 22, 1954, in New York City, New York, US, to Edward Karl Prutzel and Maria Graniela Prutzel, who were of Jewish–Hungarian and Puerto Rican origin respectively.
  • Pruetzel was raised in New York City in a mixed neighborhood, where his mother enrolled him into ballet classes to help him lose weight. Soon, he auditioned for the ‘Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts’ and was selected. His parents gave into his wish of learning drama so that he could continue with ballet.
  • However, Freddie discovered his real talent in the boys’ restroom, where he would often entertain his mates with his own brand of comedy. He made his own ham radio, which he operated from his house, and took up a job at ‘The Improv,’ a comedy club in New York. His popularity soared, and he dropped out of high school and became a full-time stand-up comedian. He made extra pocket money by working as a movie-hall usher till he gained recognition as an actor.
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Career
  • He started his career as a stand-up comedian in various comedy clubs in New York City and became popular as a “Hungarican” (part Hungarian and part Puerto Rican) performer. He changed his stage name to “Freddie Prinze,” as he wished to be known as the “Prince” of comedy.
  • He made his first TV appearance in one of the last episodes of the talk show ‘Jack Paar Tonite’ in 1973. He was the youngest comedian to be invited to a sit-down chat with Carson on his show ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,’ at the age of 19. He continued to make several appearances on the show as a guest as well as a host.
  • His comedy skills were displayed on the ‘NBC’ American musical variety series ‘The Midnight Special.’ One of his most popular shows was the ‘NBC’ series ‘Chico and the Man,’ where he played ‘Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez’ from January 1977 until his death. He released an album titled ‘Looking Good,’ named after his catch phrase from the series.
  • He participated in several “roasts” too, including ‘The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,’ which featured Sammy Davis Jr. and Muhammad Ali. His lines entertained the audience without undermining the guest celebrities who were “roasted” on the show.
  • He made his maiden TV film appearance with the lead role in ‘The Million Dollar Rip Off,’ directed by Alexander Singer, which premiered on ‘NBC’ in 1976.
  • As his popularity increased, he signed a five-year contract worth US$ 6 million, with ‘NBC,’ in the second half of 1976. However, the contract was cut short by his untimely death, and the world lost a great performer. His last public performance was at the ‘Jimmy Carter Inaugural Gala’ in Washington DC, in January 1977.
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Major Works
  • He was the youngest comedian to be invited to a sit-down chat with Carson on his show, ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,’ at the age of 19.
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  • One of his most popular shows was the ‘NBC’ series ‘Chico and the Man,’ where he played ‘Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez’ from January 1977 until his death.
  • He made his maiden TV film appearance with the lead role in ‘The Million Dollar Rip Off,’ directed by Alexander Singer, which premiered on ‘NBC’ in 1976.
  • His last public performance was at the ‘Jimmy Carter Inaugural Gala’ in Washington DC in January 1977.
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Awards & Achievements
  • His name was included in the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ in December 2004.
  • His performance in ‘Chico and the Man’ earned him a nomination for the ‘Golden Globe’ award for the ‘Best Actor in a Television Series’ and a nomination for a ‘TV Land’ award too.
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Personal Life
  • Prinze was romantically involved with actor Pam Grier. In October 1975, he married Katherine Elaine Cochran, a cocktail waitress, whom he had met at a resort in Colorado. They had a son named Freddie Prinze Jr., who later became a famous American actor.
  • He was addicted to drugs since the age of 16 and was once arrested for driving under the influence of Quaaludes, which further complicated his marriage. Prinze often suffered from depression. His condition deteriorated after his wife filed for divorce.
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  • On January 28, 1977, he shot himself in the head, in front of his business manager, Marvin Snyder, and was rushed to the ‘UCLA Medical Center’ for an emergency surgery. He was put on life support, which was removed the next day, and he passed away at 1 pm on January 29, at the tender age of 22. His son was just 10 months old at the time of Freddie’s death.
  • His death was attributed to suicide, based on a note left by him that said “I can’t go on.” He had also often talked about suicide to his parents and close friends and had pretended to play Russian roulette on many occasions. Some people believed that the suicide was an accident and was not really intended. His body was finally put to rest at the ‘Forest Lawn Memorial Park.’
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Trivia
  • He always wanted to be known as the “King” of comedy. However, since Alan King had already claimed the title of “King,” Freddie settled for the name “Prinze” or “Prince.”
  • Prinze did a bit of singing too, which can be heard in the title song of the album ‘To Be With You’ by Tony Orlando and Dawn. He also sang on his sitcoms at times.
  • His mother wrote a book, ‘The Freddie Prinze Story,’ which was published in 1978 and spoke about her son.
  • His life has inspired the TV biopic ‘Can You Hear the Laughter?: The Story of Freddie Prinze’ (1978) and the 1980 movie ‘Fame.’
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Article Title
- Freddie Prinze Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/freddie-prinze-4782.php
Last Updated
- March 08, 2018

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