Name at birth: Frederick Karl Pruetzel
The son of a Puerto Rican mother and a Hungarian father, Freddie Prinze was a 20 year-old stand-up comedian when he earned a spot on the TV sitcom, Chico and the Man. The show made its debut in 1974, was a ratings success, and by 1977 Prinze was one of the biggest stars on TV. At the height of his popularity, despondent over personal problems and apparently under the influence of drugs, he shot himself in the head and died several hours later.
Prinze is the father of movie star Freddie Prinze, Jr.… Prinze’s career, like that of Bill Cosby, took off after he appeared on Johnny Carson‘s Tonight Show… Prinze’s death remains controversial: coroner Thomas Noguchi ruled it a suicide, but after Prinze’s family challenged the ruling a jury decided the shooting was accidental, allowing Prinze’s family to collect on his $200,000 life insurance policy.
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