I just wanted to say hello to everybody, and in the spirit, of our beloved Freddie, say to you all... Loooking Goood!!!
I wanted to share something that recently happened, on my last visit to Los Angeles, about a month or so ago. For the first time, in 29 years, or since Freddie's funeral, I went to Forest Lawn, to visit our friend, Freddie. The last time I was there, I arrived in the Limo, with my wife, Mother, Freddie’s Mom Maria, and Freddie Dad, Karl.
Maria, as most of you know, did not want me, to be a pallbearer. She asked me to please, not leave her side, and to accompany her, and Karl. So, I declined, the offer to be a pallbearer, and stayed with Maria, for the entire time, while at the UCLA Medical Center, and at the funeral service at the church, then at the cemetery. (church service was held, at "The Church on The Way")
In fact, There were only two chairs, at the graveside tomb, and I was standing with my Mom & wife, and right next to me was Lucille Ball, "Lucy Ricardo", from the "I love Lucy" show. Lucille Ball, grabbed my hand, and held it tight, and just looked at me, eye-to-eye, and shook her head. That was her way, of telling me, how sorry she was, and as if she was saying...what a waste.
A lady sang two songs, and I remember one of them was..."Because He Lives", and standing around, were a host, of other celebrities, but to tell you the truth...the only one I focused on, was Lucille Ball, and only, because she was standing, right next to me. I was overwhelmed with grief, for my dear, lost, poor friend, Freddie, and I still, just couldn't get over it. I think I was in denial, because I just couldn't believe, or understand, that I would never, get to speak, or be with him, again. I kept thinking, I'm dreaming, and will wake up soon. Unfortunately, it was real.
Freddie without question, was a "Momma's boy", but not in the sense, he needed to be around her all the time, and that she would shelter him, or smother him. He was his own man! And, he definitely, loved the ladies! (and had his share) But what I am referring to, is, he used to make her laugh, and enjoyed being around her, cause Maria was always...always...a positive influence on him, and always encouraged him. Plus, she was funny in her own right & Freddie would draw, from her.
Are we no different? Isn't it nice, to be around people, who love us, and care for us, and people who are sincere, and full of honesty and truth...instead of B.S., and hot air! That’s, why he liked being around his Mom. Maria, did not let Freddie get away with anything, and told him what he didn't want to hear! But then again, maybe, just maybe, he really did...want to hear it, after all.
Freddie’s Mom Maria, told him, to listen to Mando, me, cause I was older, and like an older brother, to him, and she told him to call me, when he needed to talk to a real friend...not one of his "roadies", or those who are just around because of his fame, and are there for the moment. I was long term, with Freddie, and I loved his funny butt. HE was, like my little, but famous, bro.
I didn't see it coming, though I was with him 5 hours, before he shot himself. It devastated me, and I for years, felt guilty, cause I didn't stop him. But it was Maria, and Karl, who would console me, and they took me in like their own son, and comforted me, in my time of pain. My pain? My pain? What about their, pain? Freddie was their son, and they too, had much pain, and yet had to suffer silently.
I wish you could all, know, and meet Maria Pruetzel, Freddie’s Mom. She is so wonderful, and so special. She has been a dear, dear friend, for over 30 years and when she was going through so much herself, she reached out to Mando, to help me, with my grief. She is like my 2nd Mom, and I am proud, and honored, to call her my friend.
Anyway, now I am back to the cemetery, and visiting Freddie, for the 1st time, in 29 years, and no sooner do I get to his crypt...that I broke down sobbing, and weeping, for my long lost amigo, and it was almost as if it was yesterday. I could smell, Lucille Balls perfume, and remembered, how she held my hand, ever, so tight, and her Husband, Gary Morton, was standing on her other side, and then...it was over. I am referring to the graveside, service. People started paying Maria, Karl, and even me, their condolences, and I got a great big "bear" hug, from Lucille Ball, and she kissed me on the cheek, patted me on my back, and walked away.
So I was remembering all this, and I was by myself, until a man, came by looking at all the crypts, and saw me, on my knees, in front of Freddie’s, crypt, and he said..."Did you know him?" I looked up at him, and again, my eyes, welled up with tears, so that I couldn't even see him clearly, and I said..."Yes, I knew him, and he will forever, be in my heart, and in the hearts of all who knew, the real...Freddie Prinze." He smiled, patted me on the back, and left. In case you don't know, Freddie's Dad Karl, is on the right of Freddie, and on his left...is George Raft.
So my friends, I just wanted and felt led, to share this moment, with all of you, and I have to close now, because my eyes are so filled with tears, I am wetting the keyboard, and I can't see, what I am writing. So to you all, I say...God Bless...take care...and thank you all, for loving someone, whom you never knew personally, but yet will forever be in your hearts. I hope you have enjoyed, what I have shared. This was not planned. It just happened. Good night to you all...and also to... "Good night sweet Prinze...and Happy Birthday."...your "big" brother...Mando
Hello to everyone, on this memorable, and special day, Freddie's, 53rd birthday! Just as many of you, I always am thinking about my friend, on his b-day. He was such a trip! And, so much fun, to be around! I feel honored, to have been so close to him. Closer, than anyone knew, which included, James Komack, "Chico & The Man's" executive producer, his management team, including Ron Di Blasio, his wife, Kathy, and even NBC.
But only his Mom, Maria Pruetzel knew, how close Freddie and I were. She was all for, me being his closest friend. You see, Freddie had many, many, "hangers-on", and "groupies", but true friends, who wanted nothing from him, except his friendship...there was me, and I do believe, that David Brenner, and Bill Cosby, loved Freddie as well, and cared much about him.
They were seasoned vets, who saw trouble coming Freddie's way, unless he was to change his ways, and people he hung with. David and I spoke on several occasions, when he was to host or be on, the Johnny Carson Show, and he would tell me, that Freddie was heading for disaster, unless he changed his ways. Bill loved Freddie and saw him, as a bright and funny comedian, who was taking the country by storm, but also felt, Freddie was heading in the wrong direction, by some of his moves.
Remember, David and Bill were seasoned veterans in the comedy arena, and they had seen much, in their day, and they tried to warn Freddie of the pitfalls. They truly loved, and cared for Freddie, but Freddie was young, talented, and very, very popular, and was on the Titanic, heading for the iceberg, and like the Titanic, didn't see it in time. But Freddie, was at his age, the up-and-coming giant, of his era. He was huge, and no one could see it coming, including him. I know, I didn't.
But to be around Freddie, was to know, you were in for fun, and games,
because Freddie loved, to pull pranks. He was always pulling them on me, and I continued to fall for them, each and every time.He was something else. For instance...One day, Freddie and I were in the Chico & The Man offices, and he pretended, he was speaking to Redd Foxx. He said, "Honest Redd, I will put it back, just as soon as me and Mando, are finished with it. Yeah,
that's right, about 10 minutes." "O.K. pal, thanks alot." then he hung up the phone.
Freddie told me, that he asked asked Redd Foxx, of Sanford and Son Fame, if he could borrow his golf cart, because he had to go to the other side of the studio, and didn't feel like walking all the way. He told Redd, that he would be back in 10 minutes, and put the cart back. He said Redd said fine, and told him to go ahead and use it. Then, Freddie told me to get in the cart and go with him, that he would be right back. I said O.K., so I got on the cart.
The halls at NBC, were wide, and very long, as there were many sets along the way, and people were always, walking up and down the hallways. Well, Freddie starts driving like a maniac, as fast as the cart could go, and he begins running people out of the way. I mean, he was going fast, and cracking up all the way. I told him Freddie, cut it out, you might run some one over. He said yeah, I know, that's what I'm trying to do.
There were women screaming, and papers flying in the air, and people cusssing at us, and Freddie was having a ball. he was like a little kid, and then when he turned one of the corners, he ran the cart into a wall, jumped out and took off laughing, and running away. I was so shocked, that I kept staring at him, then jumped into the drivers seat to take the cart back, when the security guards asked me to get out of the cart, and to come with them.
I said, "wait a minute, you don't think I had anything to do with this, do you?" Then here comes Freddie, liked he just was walking by, and says to me in front of the guards, "Mando, I thought you were kidding, when you said you were going to steal redd Foxx's golf-cart, and run people down!" Man Mando, you're in trouble now, dude." and he goes off laughing his rear end off.
I was so mad, and no one would believe me. Luckily, for me, Redd heard about what happened, and he wasn't too happy with Freddie. But, though he knew, it had to be Freddie, he stuck up for me, and told the security guards, he knew, it wasn't me, and to let me go. Well they refused, to let me go, and were determined, to turn me over to the Captain of the guard, but Fedd again, would not let them.
He told them, "Now you three guys, listen to me real good. If you don't let this innocent man go, you may lose your jobs, because I will refuse, to do my show this week, and I'll blame you three. They immediately let me go, and redd and I got into his cart, and he said, "C'mon Mando. Take me to my office." Me and Redd laughed all the way back, and of course, that rascal Freddie, got away with another one! I'm telling you, he was a piece of work.
Anyway, I am proud to have been his friend, and I wish all of you, a very happy day, as you remember our friend Freddie, on his special day. I also salute his Mother, Maria Pruetzel, for all her influence on him, and helping him to become the star, that took Hollywood by storm, and shined so very brite for those years he was with us. I love you Freddie, and look forward to the day, we will once again be reunited, on the heavenly set, of "Chico & The Man". Good night, sweet Prince!
Isaac Ruiz "Mando"
Good afternoon, everyone...
Well, tomorrow will light another candle for my dear friend Freddie, who would still be "wowing" crowds today, if he wasn't making St. Peter laugh at the "Pearlies". Freddie was so gifted, and so talented.
I often said, that He had more talent in one finger, than most of us had in a lifetime. Freddie was so funny, and for those of you who never knew, or even knew about, Freddie's Mom, Maria Pruetzel, if you knew her, you would understand why, Freddie was so talented. Maria, is so funny herself, with her expressions, and especially her accent, which Freddie would on so many occasions imitate.
Freddie had so much humor to draw from, just through his Mom. She is hilarious, and Freddie used much material, which he got from her. Even though, I am sure, at times she wasn't even aware of it.
We all know, how special Freddie was, and that kid, never ceased to amaze me. I would like to share a story, which I have shared before, however, it has been at least 6 years since I shared this. So, here goes.
Freddie was living in an apartment, in West Hollywood, at 7777 Hollywood Blvd. He didn't know how to drive, and did not have a car, and he would somehow convince everyone, that he had a New York driver's license, but it got taken away, because one of his friends (underage) got caught in his car with some drugs, that he (Freddie) di9dn't know about.
Making a long story short, Freddie said in court, he had to fork over his license, and when he moved to California to do "Chico", he never tried to get it back. All of this, was a "Freddie Fairy Tale!" He was so convincing! I should have known better, but Freddie was a charmer, and he knew how to especially charm me, when he needed something.
Freddie had everything he needed, except, a car. So, he convinced me to give him a "crash course" in driving, because he said that in New York, driving was different. He even convinced me, that the drivers in new York, were fast paced, and everyone just had to fend for themselves.
So, like a big dummy, (as my good friend Redd Foxx used to say to his son Lamont) I( took Freddie out to drive. I have never, ever, been more scared in my life, than being with Freddie in the streets as he practiced his driving. He was absolutely, crazy! He was nuts...no, he was INSANE!
Freddie just about hit every car, on both sides of the streets, and had me scared to death! He would be laughing like a maniac, and got a kick out of me, because he never saw me scared, before. He would act, like he was going to hit a parked car, then turn away at the last minute, and boy, was he getting me mad!
Then, if that wasn't enough, he still managed to convince me, to borrow my car. I had a new Cadillac El Dorado, that I had bought from Dan Blocker, "Hoss", of Bonanza, and when Freddie brought it back to me, it was wrecked on all four sides. My beautiful car, was never, to be the same again.
Then, if that wasn't enough, the studio, NBC, got mad at me, for letting Freddie use my car, because they said he could have been killed, and it would have been my fault! I could not believe my ears! So what does the studio do? They end up buying Freddie, a new corvette! My oh my!
There is much more to this story, but suffice to say, is that Freddie was like a little boy, playing with his toys, and guess what? He never, grew up. But then again, isn't that why we all love him so much?
God Bless you my sweet Prinze, and Happy Birthday to you my dear friend! We all love you so...Mando
As usual, a wonderful job and tribute to Freddie. Very moving, touching and brought back many memories of our friendship. Freddie and I, were a best kept secret...(our friendship that is) only his Mom Maria, knew, how close, we really were. I spoke with her today, and she is 88 years young, going strong, and in great helath! I speak to her at least once a month, and have for many, many years. I love her as my 2nd Mom, and she knows that I was Freddies "big" brother.
I will always, miss my friend, and always think about him. "Happy Birthday, little brother"...
A look back at the most versatile and talented actor comedian ever! Remembering the legendary Hungarican Freddie Prinze