Freddie Prinze (June 22, 1954 – January 29, 1977)
Frederick Karl Pruetzel was born in New York City in 1954. He changed his last name to Prinze because he wanted to be known as the “Prince” of Comedy. He got his wish at age 19 when he performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He had dropped out of high school to pursue comedy fulltime after discovering an affinity for it. A year later, in 1974 he was cast as Franciso “Chico” Rodriguez on the hit sitcom Chico and the Man. His catchphrase “Ees not my job!” catapulted into a full-fledged celebrity. In 1975, he released a full-length comedy album, Looking Good.
In October 1975 Prinze married cocktail waitress Katherine Cochran. They had a son together, Freddie James Prinze (the actor Freddie Prinze Jr.) Unfortunately, his personal demons caught up with Prinze. A regular user (since age 16) of cocaine, the trappings of success intensified his use. Arrested for a DUI while under the influence of Quaaludes, Cochran sought a divorce. This only furthered Prinze’s downward spiral. On January 29, 1977, Prinze sat on his couch in his L.A. home, scribbled “I must end it” on a scrap of paper and shot himself in the head. He was 22 years old.