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The Final Resting Place of Freddie Prinze.
June 22, 1954 – January 29, 1977
Located in the Court of Remembrance, Sanctuary of Light.
Cause of Death - Suicide, shot himself in the head.
Freddie Prinze was an American stand-up comedian and actor. He was of Puerto Rican descent on his mother's side and German on his father's side. Although he would claim his father was a 'Hungarian Jew', his father was actually a German Lutheran; He referred to himself as a "Hungarican." In his short career he was best known as the star of Chico and the Man. He was 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. He was raised in a Hispanic milieu in the Washington Heights section of New York. His father was a German immigrant from post-Nazi Germany
and his mother was Puerto Rican Catholic. Some sources, including Prinze's own autobiography, say his father was a Hungarian Jew. The death certificate does not support this allegation, listing Prinze's father as being born in Germany. There are various arguments as to why Prinze had described his ethnic background the way he did
. As a small child his mother enrolled him in ballet classes because of his weight problem.
Prinze was educated first in a private Lutheran school, in a religious compromise by his parents (though his mother took him to Mass on Sundays). Then, without telling his parents, he auditioned for and was accepted to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where among other subjects he was introduced to drama and continued to study ballet. This was also where he really found his gift for comedy — he would entertain crowds in the boys' restroom — and he quit school in his senior year to become a stand-up comedian.
Prinze worked at several comedy clubs in New York City, including Catch a Rising Star and The Improv. For his budding career as a comedian, he changed his name to Prinze. He chose that because, according to his friend David Brenner, he 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 TV appearance on one of the last episodes of The Jack Paar Show. In December 1973, he had his biggest break, an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Prinze was the first young comedian to be asked to sit down and chat with Carson on his first appearance. He went on to appear, as well as guest host, The Tonight Show on numerous occasions after that.
From 1974 to 1977, he starred as Francisco "Chico" Rodriguez in the NBC TV series Chico and the Man with Jack Albertson. Both Prinze and the show were 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 1976, he starred in a made-for-TV movie, The Million Dollar Rip-Off. Also in 1975, he released a comedy album that was taped live at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago titled Loooking Goood—his catch phrase from Chico and the Man.
Prinze had a little-known talent for singing, examples of which were 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.
Prinze dated actresses Lisa Farringer, and Pam Grier, among others. He was also good friends with Kitty Bruce, daughter of the late Lenny Bruce, whom Prinze admired. He and Kitty Bruce were reported to have been engaged to be married at one time, but the rumor was never substantiated. He married Katherine Cochran in October 1975. They had one son, Freddie James Prinze, who later became an actor. The son's middle name was in honor of James Komack, producer of Chico and the Man.
In 1976, after his arrest for driving under the influence of Quaaludes, his wife filed for divorce on the grounds that his escalating dependence on drugs was endangering her and their son. On January 28, 1977, after receiving a restraining order from his ex-wife the night before, Prinze, who for a while had been telling friends at times 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 these goodbye calls and rushed over to Prinze's room. When Snyder arrived, Prinze continued with his 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 going on, but the psychologist did not take the situation seriously and told Snyder that Prinze was in no imminent 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 stop him, but Prinze shot himself in the head. He was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center and was placed on life support following emergency surgery. It was futile, though, and his family decided to take him off life support. Freddie Prinze died at 1:00 p.m. on January 29 at the age of 22.
The death, initially ruled a suicide, was years later re-ruled an "accidental shooting due to the influence of Quaaludes"; his mother led the effort to have the cause of death reworded. Prinze had a history of playing with guns, faking suicide attempts to frighten his friends to his amusement. He had left a note stating that the decision to take his life was his alone, but because he pulled the trigger in the presence of a witness, something suicides rarely do, it gave enough weight to the argument that he really was not planning to take his own life that night.