Hollyweird: Freddie Prinze
Friday 23 January 2009
Hear the name Freddie Prinze and you might assume it refers to the teen hunk who starred in I Know What You Did Last Summer and She's All That. But that actor's name is followed by "Junior".
Yet the handsome hunk's father has a story no less interesting than the teen icon. The young Freddie Prinze Senior's performances in local talent nights at Manhattan's Improv Club earned him several appearances on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. Impressed by Prinze, one of the programme's producers signed him to co-star in a new TV sitcom, Chico and The Man, with veteran Jack Albertson. The show was a huge success, and Prinze, who wrote all his own material, took his comedy act on the road.
Two further seasons of the show followed but, by the time the third was due to be premiered, the cracks in Prinze's seemingly ideal life – he was occasionally appearing as a guest host on The Tonight Show and had recently signed a new multi-million-dollar contract with NBC – had began to appear.
Prinze's wife, whom he had married less than 18 months earlier and with whom he had a 10-month-old son, had initiated divorce proceedings, and his old manager had successfully sued him for breach of contract. On 28 January 1977, terrified he would lose access to his son, and under the influence of quaaludes – prescribed to him by his doctor – cocaine and alcohol, which he had been abusing, Prinze shot himself in a hotel room in front of his manager.
The remainder of the third and penultimate season of Chico and the Man was filmed without Prinze, and a newcomer, Gabriel Melgar, was drafted in for what became the final series.
Despite leaving a suicide note which read: "I must end it. There's no hope left. I'll be at peace. No one had anything to do with this. My decision totally," the death was ruled to be a prank that went awry. And, although Prinze had spent all the earnings on drink and drugs, his widow and young son received close to a million dollars in settlements after winning malpractice suits filled against Prince's doctor, for over-prescribing quaaludes, and his psychiatrist, for letting Prinze handle the gun which eventually killed him.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election