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As Told By His Mother: Mrs. Maria Pruetzel

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Freddie Prinze Biography
As Told By His Mother: Mrs. Maria Pruetzel
Why are we fascinated with Freddie Prinze?
Tracerella and Her Prinze Charming
Chico and the Man
Freddie's Puerto Rico
Freddie Prinze Sr. Fan Club
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Visiting Freddie's Crypt June 22 Photo Gallery
Poems For Freddie
Poems For Maria
Freddie Prinze

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As Told By His Mother: Mrs. Maria Pruetzel

No One Seemed To Notice:

Even to this day, I cannot help but feel the terrible turmoil that tortured our son for so long. Even during those long hours of his last day, everything he said and did was a plea for help. He sought the help of others. Yet Freddie was left alone. Why? No one ever called us, his parents, to see what we might be able to do to help him? Why?
The people around Freddie knew his problems. They of his bouts with depression. They knew about his court struggles, his marriage problems, his battle with drugs. They knew he was physically and mentally wasted, on the edge of a complete breakdown, yet no one seemed to notice.

Minutes Could Have Saved Our Son: (part 1)

It was 2:45 a.m. Karl answered. He heard Freddie's voice, "Pa, I've taken seven pills. She wants to take everything from me." At that moment I picked up the extension in my room. I asked, "Freddie, what's wrong?" He said, "Kathy wants to take everything away from me. I have taken seven pills, Ma." I said, "Freddie, please don't take any more pills. Don't be silly. She cannot take everything from you. Do it for me. Do not take any more pills." Freddie said, "The lawyers are taking everything. I cannot go to my house any more." I said agian, "Do it for the baby, Freddie. Do not take any more pills." He said, "I am at home." I said, "What's the telephone number? Your address and room number?" Freddie told me, "I am at the Beverly Comstock Hotel on Wilshire." He gave me his telephone number. I asked him to keep on repeating the address and telephone number. I told him, "I'll be there at the Beverly Comstock in 20 minutes." Freddie said, "Okay". And he hung up the telephone. I jumped out of bed. :Karl," I called out. "Call the Comstock. Tell them to get somebody to Freddie's apartment right away." As I dressed I could hear Karl on the phone. He came down the hall. "It's all right. Dusty Synder is with him." "Thank God," I said, "that somebody's there." Hopefully Freddie's manager could clear his head.

Minutes Could Have Saved Our Son: (part 2)

Then I called his secretary. "Carol. Freddie just called me. He needs me. He sounds so depressed." "Don't worry about it. He's just in one of those moods." "But he called. He needs me. Will you take me?" She knew the way and by the freeway we could make it in 10 minutes. "I really can't, Mary. I just got home and into bed about 30 minutes ago. But you don't have to worry about him, Dr. Kroger is with him." Dr. William S. Kroger was Freddie's hypnotherapist. Actually, only Dusty was with Freddie when I called Carol, as Dr. Kroger had already left Freddie's apartment before Dusty's arrival. So why Carol told me the doctor was still there, I don't know. "I'm going! That's it!" I said, and I hung up.

Minutes Could Have Saved Our Son: (part 3)

It was raining as Karl and I backed out of the driveway minutes later. As Karl drove through Beverly Glen, I tried to remember the way. But I'd only been in the neighborhood once before, and that was to shop. At one point, Karl made a left turn and I thought he was right to do so. But after a few blocks more, we realized our mistakes. It was a nightmare ride for both of us driving in the wet darkness on unfamiliar winding roads up the mountain and down again to Sunset Boulevard. Finally, we came to the corner of comstock. Karl asked,"Which way do we go now?" "Go right," I said. But I was wrong, and we lost another 15 minutes before we were headed once again in the right direction on Wilshire Boulevard. And then, there it was, the sign, "Beverly Comstock Hotel." We parked across the street next to the apartment building Freddie planned to move into the next weekend. I saw the police cars in the Comstock's circle drive as we ran in the rain across to the hotel, but I didn't know they were there because of Freddie. The night clerk looked up as we pushed open the door. "We're Freddie Prinze's parents," Karl said. The clerk hesisted a moment. "The ambulance just drove away," he said.

Minutes Could Have Saved Our Son: (part 4)

As I turned away, there was a terrible agony inside me. It was as though something within me had ripped apart; there was pain, and a feeling of suffocation and the beginning of an awful loneliness. At the same time, I was thinking of Karl. He had not been well, and I saw him standing there, staring at the desk clerk and looking as though he had just been hit a painful blow.

Minutes Could Saved Our Son: (Final)

And then a police sergeant was beside us. He was a tall man, and there was a look of compassion on his face. "you're Freddie Prinze's parents," he said, and added after a pause, "I can't tell you how sorry I am." "How is he?" I was almost afraid to to ask. He shook his. "It doesn't look good. They've taken him to the UCLA Medical Center." Then he us directions on how to get there, saying, "When you get to Ships Coffee Shop you'll see the hospital sign." We hurried to the car. The rain had stopped. Karl headed west along Wilshire, I said to him, "I'll look for the hospital sign." We'd gone about a mile when there it was on the right. We went through the parking lot of the coffee shop, down an alley and, with difficulty, found the parking area for Emergency. Karl was locking the car when I spotted Ron DeBlasio, Freddie's artistic manager. He was at the back of a parked car, talking with a Freddie's lawyer. They saw us at the same moment and hurried over. Ron put his arms around me. His voice was shaky with emotion, he said, "I cannot tell you how sorry I am. It was a shot." A shot! A shot! How many times was I going to hear that? I knew Freddie had a gun for protection. I couldn't understand it. And then DeBlasio took us into Emergency and into a small room. I wasn't prepared for the next moment-a blurry vision of hospital white, policeman blue and people in clothes hastily donned; of shocked faces that turned to look at Karl and me as we stood in the doorway.

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (part 1)
This is what happened leading to the nightmare on the set of Chico and the Man



Sometime during the day, Freddie recieved the divorce papers from Kathy's lawyer demanding $25,000 in lawyers' fees, $10,000 in court costs, $4,000 a month alimony for Kathy and $1,000 a month support for the child, as well as rentention of all properties held in Kathy's name, plus dental and medical expenses for her and the baby. And all of this was retroactive to December 8, 1976. In all of it, what hurt Freddie the most was that he was restrained from going to the house except to visit Freddie Jr. Freddie wasn't feeling well Thursday, so he spent most of the day lying down in his dressing room. On the set that day, members of the "Chico" cast noticed Freddie was depressed and upset during the rehearsal and Chuck, his valet, saw Freddie popping pills. It was that day also when Isaac Ruiz and his wife Francine, visited the set with their baby and were alarmed by Freddie's strange demeanor.

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (part 2)

Later on Thursday, Freddie had a short meeting with Mr. Komack at his producer's house to negotiate better terms for a new contract in his role as Chico. From Mr. Komack's house, he called Carol at his Comstock apartment to tell her, "I'll be home in about 10 minutes." Freddie had already recovered his gun and his supply of pills, for when he got to the apartment, he said to Carol, "I've had five 'ludes and some wine and I drove home!" "Oh great", she answered. "I'm surprised you didn't kill yourself in the process." Freddie went to his room and counted his Quaaludes. He'd had 23. Now there was only 18 left. He put his gun on the bureau and then changed his clothes. Back in the living room, he made some more phone calls. One was to his attorney. He asked the lawyer questions about his life insurance and his will. But he was not quite coherent. "Are you alone?" the attorney asked. "No, Carol is with me," Freddie replied. The attorney then spoke to Carol, saying, "He sounds pretty bad." Freddie lay down on the couch and fell asleep. The attorney continued talking with Carol. He sopke about getting some kind of help for Freddie. "I'll call the doctor tomorrow, he said. A little later, Kathy called. "Freddie's passed out", Carol told her. "What do you mean, 'passed out'?" Kathy asked. "From Quaaludes. I better hang up. I'm expecting a call from the doctor." Kathy said to tell Freddie that she called. The doctor called and Carol told him the shape Freddie was in. "I'm in the middle of something," the doctor said, "but I'll call you right back." He did call again and the ring of the phone woke Freddie up, so he talked with the doctor who said he was coming over. Freddie was counting his Quaaludes. He had now taken seven. Carol, to take his mind off them, suggested a game of backgammon. But Freddie had great difficulty in concentrating.

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (part 3)

Alan Bursky called and talked to Freddie. Then Freddie called Ron DeBlasio. Carol also spoke to Ron and told him about the gun. Ron asked her to put Freddie back on. "Freddie," Ron said, "you're not going to let life beat you, are you?" "Absolutely not," Freddie answered. "Whatever mistakes you've made are behind you, Freddie," Ron told him. "they are so far behind you that you don't realize that you have outdistanced them." "You're absolutely right," Freddie answered. He told Ron that Dr. Kroger was coming over to get the gun and the Quaaludes. Then as he hung up, he said to Ron, "Goodnight, Ron. I love you." It was about 12:15 a.m. Freddie then called Kathy. They talked for a few minutes. This early morning conversation was happening on Kathy's birthday. Freddie took up his guitar and began playing and singing a song he had written. "When is the doctor coming?" he asked. Carol was feeling strain of the last few days with Freddie. Near exhaustion, she was anxious herself for the doctor's arrival. About 1:15 a.m. Dr. Kroger did arrive. As he walked in, Freddie, according to Carol, was playing with his gun. His gun clip lay on the table beside him. Dr. Kroger reached down, picked up the clip and put it in his pocket. Freddie saw him do it and threatened him, "Give it back to me". he demanded.

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (part 4)

Dr. Kroger looked at Carol who made a despairing gesture. The doctor gave the gun clip back to Freddie. He talked with Freddie about hiring a muscle man who could guard him from himself. "Finally I thought I'd better leave them alone," Carol told me later. So she said goodbye to Freddie. It was already drizzling outside, so Freddie asked her to call him when she got home. He always wanted to be sure that she made it safely home late at night. When she did get home, Carol called Freddie. "Carol," he said, "I'm lonely." "Lonely? Where's the doctor?" Carol asked him. "He's gone home," Freddie told her. Carol could not believe what she heard. "Freddie, please go to sleep, you'll be all right. And I'll call you in the morning." "Okay", Freddie said. A little while later her phone rang again. It was Freddie. "I can't sleep," he said. "Go to bed. You'll go to sleep. You need your sleep." "Okay, I will", Freddie promised.

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (part 5)

But instead of going to bed, Freddie called Dusty Snyder. And when Dusty heard the strangeness of Freddie's voice, he was frightened. He told Freddie he was coming right over. But first Dusty called Carol. "I just got a phone call from Freddie", he said. "He sounds terrible. I'm going right over." Carol had already decided to get dressed and go back to Freddie. But she told Dusty, "If you go, I won't go." Dusty said, "Okay, I'm going." When Dusty arrived at Freddie's apartment in the Comstock, Freddie got up from the couch and opened the door. He was wearing his karate pants and was moving sluggishly. Dusty saw the gun-whether in Freddie's hand or on the coffee table in front of the long sofa, he is not sure. But he saw it. Freddie sat down again on the sofa, his telephone nearby. And on the table in front of him lay an open telephone book, some staionery and a pen. As Dusty sat down on the love seat, he saw Freddie write something on the paper. "Is this legible?" Freddie asked. Dusty read the message. "I can't go on," Freddie said. "I must end it." He repeated the words over and over again. Dusty picked up the phone and called Dr. Kroger. He told him what Freddie had written and how he was acting. Dr. Kroger replied, "I just left him. He's been behaving that way all this week. He's just crying out for attention and help. But I'm not concerned about his doing harm to himself."

Time Runs Out: Leading to the nightmare (Final)

After Dusty hung up the phone, Freddie made several more calls to Kathy and to Carol. He also called me. Throughout most of the 30 minutes that Dusty was with him, the gun was in Freddie's hand. At one point, he made a quick movement with the gun. "Give me that," Dusty said. Freddie pulled back as if to say, "Don't come near me." "I kept my distance," Dusty remembers. "But I knew that the two things he really cared about in life were his mother and his baby. So I reminded him about the insurance and that it had a suicide clause which had four months to run." The next few moments are hazy in Dusty's recolection. As Freddie sat on the sofa, Dusty was aware of what he could only describe later as one fluid movement. The gun was at Freddie's head and there was a muffled sound which Dusty scarcely recognized as a shot until he saw Freddie slump sideways. In shocked disbelief, he called the police.

After the shooting:

Carol tried repeatedly to call Freddie's apartment, but the line remained busy. She kept trying to get through, until suddenly an operator's voice broke in on the busy signal. "I have an emergency call from a Dusty Snyder." And then Dusty's voice broke through. He was obvisiously shock. "Carol, he did it! He did it!" Only moments later, Karl and I arrived on the scene at Comstock, still unaware that we were about to be caught up in the nightmare ending of what had once been Freddie's beautiful dream.


This part picks up after "minutes could have saved our son" (part 4).
UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 1)

As I turned,there was a terrible agony inside me. It was as though something within me had ripped apart;there was pain, and a feeling of suffocation and the begining of an awful loneliness. At the same, I was thinking of Karl. he had not been well, and I saw him standing there, staring at the desk clerk and looking as though he had just been hit a painful blow. and then a police sergent was beside us. he was a tall man, and there was a look of compassion on his face. "you're freddie prinze's parents", he said,and added after a pause,"I can't tell you how sorry I am." "how is he?" I was almost afraid to ask. he shook his head. "It doesn't look good. they've taken him to the UCLA Medical Center." then he gave us directions on how to get there, saying,"when you get to Ships Coffee Shop you'll see the hospital sign." we hurried to the car. the rain had stopped. as Karl headed west along Wilshire, I said to him,"I'll look for the hospital sign." we'd gone about a mile when there it was on the right. we went through the parking lot of the coffee shop, down an alley and, with difficulty, found the parking area for Emergency. Karl was locking the car when I spotted Ron DeBlasio, freddie's artistic manager. he was at the back of a parked car, talking with freddie's lawyer. they saw us at the same moment and hurried over. ron put his arms around me. his voice shaky with emotion, he said, "I cannot tell you how sorry I am. It was a shot." A shot! A shot! how many times was I going to hear that? I knew freddie had a gun for protection. I couldn't understand it. and then DeBlasio took us into Emergency and into a small room. I wasn't prepared for the next moment-blurry vision of hospital white, policeman blue and people in clothes hastily donned; of shocked faces that turned to look at Karl and me as we stood in the doorway.


UCLA Medical Center:Goodnight Sweet Prince:Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 2)
Then I saw Carol and her teenage daughter, Lisa. they were crying. they were standing beside Dusty Snyder, who was sitting on a chair, staring blankly ahead of him in dazed disbelief. Carol hurried over to me. "how is he?" I asked. she pulled me to her, unable to say a word. for the first time, I cried myself. All along Wilshire Boulevard from freddie's hotel, it had been as if a steel band was wrapped around my chest and a heavy hand clamped over my mouth, smothering me and making my heart pound. but now I was crying-crying hard, body-shaking sobs with Carol's arms around me. "It doesn't look good," Carol was able to say at last. A nurse came over. seeing Karl in the black turtle-neck sweater he was wearing, she asked,"are you a priest?" "No," he replied, "I'm his father." the thought flashed into my mind:Freddie must be in bad shape if they want a priest. I grabbed the nurse's arm. "let me see him," I said. "No, you can't. Not right now. they're working on him." I must have sounded rude as I shouted at her. "If you don't, and he dies, I'll never forgive you." the nurse broke my grasp and tried to calm me. "I know how you must feel, but it is impossible right now." "then give me a room where I can pray in private," I asked, "a room with a phone." she took me across the hall to another small room. there was a phone on the wall. Carol, Lisa and Karl came with me. we all knelt down on the hard tile to pray. "please, Lord," I sobbed out. "Don't let it be true. let it be a dream. please, Lord let him live." I said it over and over again. then I got to my feet. I was thinking of Oral Roberts' Prayer Group in Tulsa. I fumbled in my purse for the card with the telephone number on it. I knew it was there. I had carried it for years.I'd watched Oral Roberts on TV since before Freddie was born. but I was too distraught to dial. I gave the card to Lisa. She got through to Tulsa. A woman answered, and Lisa gave the phone to me.I said, "I'm Freddie Prinze's mother. I need your help." and then I began to cry again. the woman waited. at last I was able to continue. "Freddie Prinze has been shot. he is in Emergency here in Hollywood. will you pray for him?" she said,"you mean Freddie Prinze of 'Chico and the Man'?" "yes. I'm his mother." and then that woman whose name I never did find out began to pray. It was a beautiful prayer and I began to feel the ache in heart lessen. when she ended her prayer for God to be present in that hour of agony she said, "God is with you right there in the hospital. don't let go of the fact. he's there, and His Son is the Great Physician who is standing there with doctors and nurses. he is in charge. you can leave your son in His keeping. God bless you. be sure to let us know how your son gets along." we continued to pray in that room. I repeated the words again and again. "please Lord, let him live. please God, help him."


UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 3)
An hour passed. It must have been about 6:30 that awful friday morning when a nurse came into the room. they had prepared a waiting room for us a short distance down the hall from the intensive care unit. but I still could not see freddie. "just as soon as possible we'll let you in to see your son," the nurse said. then they started to come. by seven o'clock, the place was full of people. some of them I knew by sight, freddie's friends. and people from the studio. but also some people i'd never seen before. emotionally it was very difficult. I wanted to be brave. I did not want to go to pieces, but the unbelievableness and the horror of it all pressed in on me. I silently called upon God for strength, as first one person and then another would embrace me, would kiss me, would break down and cry. they grabbed karl's hand; they put their arms around his shoulders. and over and over again the words, "we're so sorry."
in a way, time dragged. as we waited down the hall from the intensive care unit where life support machinery and the best doctors available were doing their utmost to keep death away from freddie.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 4)
each minute seemed like an hour. yet each passing moment was an added tiny segment of life for my son. I tried to push from my mind the thought of any permanent damage to freddie. yet, should he survive his injuries, the appalling possibility was there. if he lived, would those millions of his fans across the country ever laugh with him again? would they ever again see him and jack albertson engage verbal conflict in brown's garage? would they see again the glint in chico's eyes as he'd turn away from ed brown with his characteristic, "that's not my job, mam"? I became oblivious to the activity around me. I seated myself on the couch by the window where I could see the door and waited for the message to come that I could go in to see my son. I continued to pray, and strength came with the absolute knowing that God was with me.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet prince: Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 5)
it was now 7:30 a.m. I went to the door and looked along the hospital corridor. the day's activities were in full swing. I saw breakfast carts being pushed along leaving the smell of coffee in their wake. a nurse came up to me to ask me if we would like something to eat, but I had no desire for food. karl had come to stand beside me. "mary, you'd better have something to eat." "no, karl, thanks all the same, but I want to fast and pray." back I went to the couch. I was there when Isaac Ruiz walked into the room. scanning the room, he saw me and rushed over. he had been hurrying and was breathless. he sat down beside me. "maria, I heard it on the radio. I can't believe it. how is freddie?" he began to cry as he held me tight. "it doesn't look good, mando," we never called him Isaac, always mando, after the character he played on the "chico and the man" show. his father is a minister and mando himself believes strongly in God-and he is not at all backward about letting people know it. he now got to his feet to face the crowded room and there was an authoritative ring to his voice when he said, "hey, let's all hold hands and pray for freddie." it was beautiful to see all those people moving together reaching out for a hand to hold. some who were smoking put out their cigarets. mando joined hands with karl and me. we waited, expectant, and then mando's clear voice with its latino inflection broke the silence. "O God, we love you, and freddie loves you. and now freddie needs you like he's never needed you before-" it was not a long prayer, but it had power as mando placed his friend into the good keeping of God. there was hope for the future and there was acceptance of whatever might happen in the loving wisdom of God.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (part 6)
I saw Dusty walking around with a rosary in his hands. his lips were moving in prayer. as karl and mando and I stood together. mando pointed out different people in the room, co-workers of freddie's. "that's ray, and over there near the door is jack, one of the directors." there were others, names I had heard freddie mention. there were so many friends in freddie's world I did not know. I said to mando, "I need you." he squeezed my hands. "you've got me. I won't leave you." he went out to a pay phone in the hall and called his wife and came back to me. we sat down together on the couch. he was not often at a lost for words, but now for a while he was silent. he was reflecting. "my brother heard the news first, maria," he said. "he woke me up. it was just after six. he asked me, 'did you hear what happen to freddie?' " 'what?' I asked him. and he told me that freddie was in the hospital with a wound in the head. "'don't give me that kind of joke,' I said to him. 'I was with him yesterday.' "'it is not a joke. it was on the radio a few minutes ago.'"it just took me 10 minutes to get dressed and leave the house and on the way here I heard the news again on the car radio." mando went out of the room to get a cup of coffee. "can I get you anything, maria?" "no thanks, mando." he came back to the couch. he sat for a minute or two turning the styrofoam cup around in his hands. "I'm so happy I saw freddie yesterday. we'd seen so little of each other these last few months. it just happen-my wife and the baby and I went over to the studio thursday afternoon.


UCLA Medical Center:Goodnight Sweet Prince:Rest In Peace (1954-1977) (part 7)
"When we walked in Freddie was just leaving the rehearsal stage. I waved at him. Freddie's face lit up. He came over. "Hey, Zac,' he said. you know, he used to call me Zac." I knew that. It was Freddie's humor showing, minicking the way Jack Albertson pronounced Isaac with a heavy emphasis on the syllable. Mando could see, he said, that freddie was troubled. "hey, Zac!' Freddie said again as he hugged me. "then he stepped back, holding me at long arm's length. 'Brother, you look good.'" These last two words had that special intonation that had become Freddie's hallmark. "he put his hand to my face. 'como estas?' he said." Mando told me that he was surprised to hear Freddie break into Spanish. he only talked in Spanish when he was troubled. I knew then that Freddie was hurting deep inside. It was almost like a cry for help."

UCLA Medical Center:Goodnight Sweet Prince:Rest in Peace (1954-1977)(part 8)
Mando explained as he went on with his story. "freddie reached out for my baby. as he cradled the boy in his arms, tears came to his eyes. "'Ay Dios mio; ay Dios mio.' his voice was so low and sad. he repeated the words, 'O my God!' It was just like a prayer the way he said it. he began kissing our baby as if it were his own. "'what a beautiful baby, man!' he said as he handed our baby back to me and asked me, 'how is everything going, Zac?' "I shrugged and answered. 'you know me, brother.' "freddie smiled. 'yea, same old, right? you are a survivor, Zac.' "'yes, I always been a survivor. I guess I always will be,' I responded. "you know, Maria, when freddie looked at me, there were tears in eyes. he tried to brush them away. maybe he was thinking about his family and the hassles he was having. he really loved his own little freddie. "just then, while freddie and I were still talking, a man came over to us and took him by the arm. 'come on, freddie, you've got to lie down for a while.' "freddie flushed. he shook off the man's grasp. 'I be all right. I be all right!' his voice was sharp as he spoke to the man. "but when he turned to me again, his voice was softer, 'I've got to lie down, Zac. I see you around, okay?' "and then freddie walked away. as he turned to go, Maria, his loose sweater made me realize how thin he was." Mando looked at his now cold coffee. "I know, Maria, that he was high on something, but it was more than just being high. he looked depressed.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 9)

"my wife said to me,'what's wrong with freddie?' "'something is bothering him, francine, but I don't know what.'"there was a time, maria, when I knew his moods and could help him but I haven't seen him for so long. he was a different freddie." again mando was silent for a moment. then he repeated, "he was not the same freddie I knew when we were first beginning on the 'chico and the man' show. he was happy then. but yesterday he looked so sad-and older. "you know, maria, francine and I were at the studio for about an hour. and just as we were leaving, we saw freddie again. I said to him, 'I see you, brother.' "freddie said, 'hey, zac, is good to see you.' he repeated it,'is really good to see you.'"he started to walk away, but then he turned back and hugged me, 'brother, it is good to see you.'"then freddie was gone. as we went outside, francine said to me,'something is wrong, really wrong with freddie.'" mando paused, his hand clenched around his coffee. then he went on, the agony now in his voice echoing the agony in my heart."maria, francine was right. but I had no idea what was ahead. if I knew he needed my help, nothing could have stopped me. even if I have to beat him up and take him home with me, I would do it. "but I did not know. I did not know. he needed help-and I did not know."and once again mando began to cry.


UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 10)

Two or three other girls introduced themselves to me that morning and said they too had dated freddie. a nurse's aide came in with coffee and cookies and sandwiches. another aide, a beautiful black girl, brought me a pillow, saying, "here, mrs. Pruetzel, you'll be more comfortable."as she settled the pillow behind my head, she added, "I want you to know that I am praying for you and freddie and when I get home I will light a candle for him."

Ron squeezed my hand. "is kathy here?" I asked. "yes, he said." she's taking it very hard." how thankful I was for a friend like ron to take charge at a time like this. he was more than a manager to freddie, he was one of freddie's closest friends. today he was doing everything possible to make us comfortable and to maintain our privacy. a little later, karl came to me. "I just went to see kathy," he said." where is she?" "she is across the hall. you should go to her."

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince: Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 9)

"my wife said to me,'what's wrong with freddie?' "'something is bothering him, francine, but I don't know what.'"there was a time, maria, when I knew his moods and could help him but I haven't seen him for so long. he was a different freddie." again mando was silent for a moment. then he repeated, "he was not the same freddie I knew when we were first beginning on the 'chico and the man' show. he was happy then. but yesterday he looked so sad-and older. "you know, maria, francine and I were at the studio for about an hour. and just as we were leaving, we saw freddie again. I said to him, 'I see you, brother.' "freddie said, 'hey, zac, is good to see you.' he repeated it,'is really good to see you.'"he started to walk away, but then he turned back and hugged me, 'brother, it is good to see you.'"then freddie was gone. as we went outside, francine said to me,'something is wrong, really wrong with freddie.'" mando paused, his hand clenched around his coffee. then he went on, the agony now in his voice echoing the agony in my heart."maria, francine was right. but I had no idea what was ahead. if I knew he needed my help, nothing could have stopped me. even if I have to beat him up and take him home with me, I would do it. "but I did not know. I did not know. he needed help-and I did not know."and once again mando began to cry.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 10)

Two or three other girls introduced themselves to me that morning and said they too had dated freddie. a nurse's aide came in with coffee and cookies and sandwiches. another aide, a beautiful black girl, brought me a pillow, saying, "here, mrs. Pruetzel, you'll be more comfortable."as she settled the pillow behind my head, she added, "I want you to know that I am praying for you and freddie and when I get home I will light a candle for him."

Ron squeezed my hand. "is kathy here?" I asked. "yes, he said." she's taking it very hard." how thankful I was for a friend like ron to take charge at a time like this. he was more than a manager to freddie, he was one of freddie's closest friends. today he was doing everything possible to make us comfortable and to maintain our privacy. a little later, karl came to me. "I just went to see kathy," he said." where is she?" "she is across the hall. you should go to her."

UCLA Medical Center:Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest In Prince 1954-1977) (part 11)

So I went over to the room where freddie's wife and her mother were. neither kathy nor I could speak. we simply clung to each other, expressing what could not be put into words at that moment when the one we both loved struggled for life down the hall. when at last I could speak, I asked, "when did you get here?" "I got here late." kathy's voice was low and strained. "nobody told me. I didn't know a thing until my mother phoned me and said she'd heard it on the radio and was flying to LA right away." It was a few minutes before kathy could go on. "I jumped out of bed, and dressed the baby and took him to a friends place. I got here as fast as I could." kathy's mother patted her shoulder comfortingly. to me, she said, "I was able to get a plane right away. It's terrible, isn't it. but thank God for a little hope. I don't know what we'd do, mary, at a time like this without God's help." I knew that she spoke out of her own deep faith. kathy's mother, a lifelong Southern Baptist, is a woman of prayer. about 11:30 Ron came back with freddie's attorney, David Braun. The attorney had prepared papers for kathy to sign giving the medical team permission to operate. Ron and David came over to karl and me. "the doctors want to operate, but they want to make it clear that no matter what they do, if freddie lives, he will be a vegetable. what do you think?" "if it means that he will have any chance, go ahead," I said. "I'm glad you think so," Ron replied and headed across the hall to obtain kathy's signature.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 12)

The operation took about two hours. that afternoon all of us were tense with anxiety as we waited. at one point screaming burst out in the corridor. a couple of people rushed out of the room. when they came back one of them said, "that was Alan Bursky. he just couldn't take it any more!" Alan had been one of Freddie's since their new york days together. I saw Freddie's limo driver, dan, leaning against a wall by himself. he looked very sad. It was the way all of us felt. Tony Orlando came to talk with me for awhile. he put his arms around me and kissed me. "what can I say? we all loved freddie." there were tears in his eyes as he turned to grip Karl's hand and hurried out of the room as though he did not want us to see him break down. Jimmy Komack, the producer of "Chico and the Man," was there. I thought of how good Jimmy was to Freddie when my son first came to Hollywood. Freddie had told us that if ever felt down, he knew he could go to Mr. Komack's house. the door was always open. the word came at four o'clock. "Freddie took the operation well," Ron announced. then turning to Karl and me, he said "they will let you in to see him now." at long last, Karl and I were permitted to see our son. we went through those double doors guarding the ICU and beyond the curtained beds of the outer room to a smaller, private room. pushing the door open, we saw Freddie. the sides of his bed were up. a bewildering array of equipment was attached to his body. a bandage covered his shaved head. a machine beside him monitored his heartbeat and brain impulses. he lay there without a motion, without a sound. Karl and I moved forward to stand beside him. his right hand was on top of the covers. I reached out and put my hand on his. It was warm. Karl's hand found mine and held it. I could hear him sobbing softly.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 13)

The nurse standing beside us said, "speak to him. the doctors say he might hear you." "Freddie, if you hear me, I want you to know that we love you," I said. I repeated his name over and over again, but he made no sign that he heard me." Karl put his arms around my shoulders and led me out of the room. I could not contain my pent-up feelings any longer. Carol Novak was in the hall. she came to me. "It's good to cry, Mary," she said and led me back to the room where we had spent most of the past 17 hours. the minutes passed. we all took turns, two at a time, with freddie. staying with him. talking, trying to break through to him, to get a response of some kind. carol continued to take messages from downstairs. someone sent up a cross and heart on a gold chain. cards. penciled notes: "we're praying." "the chapel is full of people praying for freddie." we heard that freddie's old girlfriend, Beverly, had flown in. she was unable to come up so she spent the night in the lobby. "they won't let me up," she wrote on a card, "but I'm here if you need me." so the evening wore on. and the ritual of standing, two by two, in the antiseptic sterility of that small room continued. It was unreal in its quietness after the noise and bustle of the busy corridor beyond the ICU's double doors. periodically we returned from our quiet vigil beside freddie to quiet conversation with others in the hallway and the waiting rooms. some took the elevators to the lobby which was still packed with those who waited word of freddie there. others prayed in the chapel. the lights in the hallways dimmed. the tempo of activity lessened. and the quietness of the night hours settled on the hospital.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 14)
I went back to freddie's room, and Lisa came with me. I took freddie's hand in mine. It was warm but limp in my grasp. I said, "freddie, If you can hear me, I'm going to tell you something very important. Please let me know somehow if you hear me. let me know somehow. move your eyes. move your finger, if you hear what I am going to tell you. "we all love you and we are praying for you. but there is someone else who loves you more, and that is God. Jesus is here. he's standing next to you, freddie, just holding your hand. you believe that, because I do. I can feel it. "no matter what the outcome is , God loves you. he saved you." and when I said those words I felt Freddie's hand lose its limpness. It became strong, as his fingers squeezed my hand in a hard grasp. so hard that I could not take my hand away.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 15)
I was shocked. "thank God, he hears me," I almost shouted. "thank God. Lord, from now on he is in Your hands I love him. We all love him but you love more. I know You love him more!" the tears of joy were welling up. "what your decision is, Father, I accept with humility because he is Your child. I gave him to You when he was born. I always put him in Your hand. "so he is in Your hands,Father. do whatever You must, but please give me the strength to go through, Lord. and please take care of Freddie, Lord." an amazing feeling of lightness came over me.For the first time since the phone call at 2:30 in the morning, I had peace. I was crying and Lisa was crying beside me, but I felt as though my soul had been set free from its terrible weight, for I knew that God was there with us. Lisa and I walked out of the room. a crisis came at 10:30 p.m. The monitor showed that freddie's heart was failing. the wavy green lines had smoothed out and were moving across the screen with scarcely a quiver. The medical team surrounded freddie's bed in a matter of seconds. freddie's heart had stopped. a nurse pounded on his chest, screaming, "hang on, freddie, hang on! you can't die! the world's got to laugh!" once again the wavy lines moved across the screen. they were erractic now, with less variation up and down, but moving nevertheless.


UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 16)
I went back to freddie's room a little after eleven o'clock. again, lisa was with me. karl had not been feeling well and was resting. "I'd like to stay with freddie," I said to the nurse. "for the rest of the night, if I can. "certainly," she said. "somehow your son may sense your presence." lisa sat down on the left side of the bed. I settled myself in an armchair close to freddie, reaching out every so often to touch his right hand. and so I waited and prayed. It was very quiet in the room. the only sound came from the respirator hooked up to freddie's motionless form on the bed. "only the machinery moves," I thought to myself. I sat staring at the tubing, the hanging bottles and all the other equipment fighting to keep freddie alive. and at times, I caught myself slowly breathing in and out with the inhale-exhale rhythm of the life-support equipment. I could not detect the slightest quiver of motion in my son's body, as he lay there in front of me on that bed, his head toward the window. I could see only the enforced rising and falling of his chest, frightening in in its mechanically regularity.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 17)
From time to time I got up from the chair in which I sat and went over to the bed. I reached out and touched his forehead. I felt its cold dampness and, taking a Kleenex from the box on the bedside table, I softly dried the moisture from his brow. I gently stroked his hand as it lay, still and white on the sheet. I saw the veins in the back of his hand as though they had been etched there with pale blue ink. at times like this, you notice such things and recall them later with vivid clarity. but for now I could only look at my son and wonder. his world -that world of entertainment he'd striven so hard to enter-had crashed down around him. for two years now, he'd been a headline part of that world. what would tomorrow's headlines say about him? again and again, I knelt to pray. and always I used the same words, as I bargained with God. "please let him live! do anything You want with me, but please let, dear God, let him live. take me in his place."

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 18)
Even now, some 28 hours later, as I sat in freddie's hospital room, keeping vigil beside my unconscious son, I was still barley able to comprehend all that had happened since the firing of that fateful shot. I looked at my wristwatch and saw that it was now seven in the morning, saturday, january 28. the long night had way to day, and the accelerated tempo of a new day around me. I got up once again to stand beside freddie's bed, and I saw that his eyes were moving.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 19)
A nurse came into the room and I said to her, "his eyes are moving. does that mean that there is an improvement?" "no, it doesn't," she said, as she took her penlight and shone it into his eyes. "you see, he does not respond to light. he won't be with us much longer." there was compassion in her voice as she spoke. "do I have time to go home and change clothes?" It was now more than 28 hours since Karl and I had left home. "yes, you have." Kathy had come into the room with Carol. "I've not left him alone for one minute," I told them. "I want to go home for half an hour. will you stay?" "yes, we will," Kathy said. Carol went around the bed to her daughter who had stayed awake with me for most of that night.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 20)
Luis Rivera took Karl and me home. "I'm going to go home and freshen up myself," he said. In less than an hour we were back at the hospital. I went back to the waiting room because the doctors were with freddie and no one was allowed into his room. "we can't see him anymore," Carol said. I think it was about ten o'clock that a priest came into the room. he was a hospital chaplain, I think. "would you go with me to your son?" he asked. I went with him and held the little silver cup of oil as he repeated the solemn words of the last rites. I was praying as he did so. I knew that I was saying "Goodbye" to freddie for the last time, but strength came to me from the promise of Scripture that God would dry my tears. he did give me strength. even though I had been fasting and praying from the moment I had come to the hospital, I felt strong.

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 21)
About one o'clock in the afternoon, kathy and I were called into a private office. ron and carol came with us. groping for a way to say it, a doctor told us, "we have done everything that can be done. we have declared him dead." I looked out of the window of that small office. I could not cry. even the sun in that moment looked sad to me. kathy was crying, and ron put his arms around her, consoling her. "are you sure you have done everything that could be done?" I asked. the doctor said, "Everything. there is nothing more."

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace: (1954-1977) (part 22)
"Can I go and stay with him for a few minutes?" "you can go, but you'll have to be strong. there are other very sick people there." "don't worry about me. I be strong." I went to freddie's bedside with kathy. we both broke down. I kissed him and held his hand. It was still warm. I stood there praying, "God, he is in Your hands now. this is Your decision. I accept it, Lord. help him, God. and Father, give me strength for what is waiting for me now." as I held freddie's hand, it became colder and a grey tinge spread across his face. "I love you, freddie," I said. "I see you again."

UCLA Medical Center: Goodnight Sweet Prince, Rest in Peace (1954-1977) (the final)
Tony Orlando also came into the room. he was crying bitterly. he bent down and kissed freddie, and he said, "Goodbye. I love you." Chuck Hoffa came and he too was crying. "I was with freddie almost every day and I knew his struggles better maybe than anybody," he said. "my life will be so empty now." Luis Rivera and Isaac Ruiz-Mando-came into the room, and Mando said a prayer for all of us. I said to Luis, "please go and pick up Karl." Karl had not been feeling very well and he'd said, "I'll stay home for a couple of hours and then I'll be back to the hospital." so Luis left to get Karl. we were then asked to leave the room. "I'm staying," I said. "but we have to disconnect the equipment," they said. "then I will wait by the door," I said. "but I'm not leaving until my husband comes to see freddie." and so I waited. Karl came. But Luis had not yet told him our son was dead. "how is he?" Karl asked. "he's been dead for 20 minutes." and as we stood together for the last time beside freddie's bed, Karl broke down and cried. Mr. Greene, the hospital administrator, took us by a back corridor to a private elevator to get away from the crowded front lobby of the hospital. Limousines were waiting for us. as kathy and I parted, I embraced her and said, "we have to face this together." Ron said, "I'm taking care of all the arrangements. Leave everything to me."

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 1)
I had thought that I was anonymous in the neighborhood where we lived in Van Nuys, but I found out that so many people knew who I was. the house was quickly crowded with neighbors taking charge of things. they brought food and flowers and did so much for us. somehow that day passed. the next day was Sunday. Karl and I went to the Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn Memorial Park to meet Kathy and to make the final arrangements. I took Freddie's Bible with me, the one he had marked on numerous occasions. I told Chuck, "put this in the casket with Freddie."

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 2)
I also gave him a silver cross which Freddie cherished. I remember how it had come into his possession. he was stopped one day on the street in the Bowery by an old man who wanted a hand-out. Freddie had two dollars and some change on him. he gave the man the two dollars. the man reached into his ragged trousers and brought out the silver cross. "here. I want you to take this", he said.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 3)
Freddie did not want to accept it. he knew that it was in all probability the only thing of value the man had. but the man insisted, and freddie carried it with him for a long time when he went to the clubs to perform. Chuck put the cross in the casket along with the Bible, and both were buried with Freddie.

We came home. I was not prepared for a funeral and I did not have a black dress. I don't like black clothes anyway. but I went that afternoon to Bullock's in Fashion Square Mall not far from where we live. as I looked for things I needed I thought to myself, "here I find myself shopping for a black dress and shoes, walking around like a Zombie, with my eyes swollen behind my dark glasses." I scarcely knew what I was doing. I bought the first dress that was in any way suitable and almost ran out of the store.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 4)
I had a maid for the day and Minnie, my neighbor, and my friend Edna, and the maid took care of everything around the house for me. My family called from Puerto Rico; my niece flew in from New York. Freddie's half-brother and half-sister, Karl's children by his first wife, came from Puerto Rico. That night I could not sleep. I paced the floor. I kept asking, "freddie, why do you leave now?" I could not understand it.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 5)
Back in 1972, when I was was robbed three times in the elevator in the apartment building, freddie was so concerned. he quit his ushering job, so he could rush home after school and wait for me in the hallway of the apartment building with his German shepherd King to make sure that I got upstairs safely. and he'd say, "can I do the shopping for you?" He did not want me to go out at night anymore. he'd call several times during the evening from the clubs to see that I was all right. and yet now, when I needed him so desperately he had left me. I could not accept that he had done so deliberately.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 6)
Morning came at last. different ones came to me urging me to "take a pill" to help through the strain of the hours ahead. "there are going to be a lot of people there," I was told. "I don't care. I don't need a pill." at the cemetery, in sight of the television studios of NBC, there was such a crowd. cars were backed up all the way from the chapel about a mile from the gate to the highway. there were photographers, TV camera crews, reporters. and the church was packed, with hundreds standing outside.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 7)
Kathy was there in the private family room when we arrived. I went into the sanctuary and saw Freddie's casket completely hidden by flowers. the minister who had officiated at their wedding conducted the funeral service. Jimmy Komack was the first of several to speak. "Freddie Prinze was a genius," he said. "that is not an easy word to throw around. It is a harder word to be, but freddie was a genius and that was the begining of his pain....
"people wanted him to be many things. It was not his job, man. we expected him to behave as we would behave; that was not his job, man. they wanted of him that which he could never give. It was not his job.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 8)
"Freddie was brilliantly talented performing genius. that was his job, man. Freddie never gave in. He fought; he pushed; and he charmed and he cajoled his way through his unique identity to his predetermined destiny.... "He was shockingly brilliant. We glorified him because he was special. And then in the end we became confused, because he was special and did not fit into our pre-set molds. He was driven to make us laugh; and he did. Have a good trip, Freddie," Tony Orlando said,"I'm here to talk about my friend, Freddie Prinze. This is the most difficult moment in my entire life. Freddie at 22 years old was, though he was ten years younger than I am, my teacher. I have never learned so much from one man in such little time. He was the essence of the great performer. The man was in turmoil. He was in great pain and yet his audiences never knew it.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 9)
"He felt that his utmost responsibility was to give one hundred percent of himself even through the pain which he concealed from his audiences. "Freddie stood next to some the greatest, some of whom are here today, who-with all their heads in wonderment that someone his age could have such power and grace. you forget what age he was. "Freddie was the greatest comedian I ever knew." Deeply moved, Ron DeBlasio spoke next: "The world is more familiar with his pain than with compassion. Freddie Prinze was quite familiar with pain but intensely compassionate. he was the substance that the Hollywood dream is made of-a young kid-semi- ghetto New York, talented, physically overwhelming, appealing and incredibly bright. his capacity for understanding and reasoning was the most profound of any of the persons I've ever worked with.

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 10)
"He was kind, he was also fantastically shy-very withdrawn. he strived to maintain his privacy. he understood the rules in this buisness that he loved, although they were often cruel and sometimes unreasonable. he lived and worked very hard. unfortunately, he remained a child in a very adult world. "his instincts were more times right but his wrongs were extremely costly. he loathed any mistakes, but would find them tolerable and easily forgivable in others but inexcusable in himself... .
"his feelings for those-all of those-in his immediate family were loyal and loving. he was especially proud of his son. his overwhelming concern for those who loved him was to make them happy and proud of what he did. he cared what people thought. this extremely complex man strived to please others but too often overlooked himself. "I do not know why he is here today. I believe he did not plan to be here today...but there was down in the murky depths of his mind intense pain; the ultimate desire to escape. He has."

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 11)
Finally Jack Albertson spoke. he recalled how he had met Freddie Prinze three years earlier. "I am here today as a member of a family, freddie's family, each of us a part of him and he a golden part of us... . In less than three years, millions of fell in love with freddie prinze." jack said more but he broke down before he could complete his eulogy. he had intended to close by reading a telegram from David Brenner who could not be there that day. In that telegram David said, "I regret that I cannot be among the many that are paying their respects to freddie on this day, but I have tried to be among the very few to pay him respect while he was still alive. God bless you, Freddie."

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (part 12)
In a few minutes more it was all over. and I had to face all the people who were there that day. one face I was particularly glad to see was that of Dr. Robert Schuller whom I have considered for years, along with Oral Robert's, to be my paster. I had begun watching Dr. Schuller's "Hour of Power" and gaining strength from him many years before we left New York. he handed me a book after the service, a book he had written, Postive Prayer for Power-Filled Living.People followed us as we went to the Sanctuary of Light mausoleum where Freddie's body was placed in a crypt in the wall. as we walked down the terraced walk to the limos, people were standing in deep rows on either side of the walk. I heard them speaking, saying things like, "we loved freddie." A man came out of the crowd and kissed me. A lady said, "I just lost my daughter. I know how you feel."

The Funeral: Saying Goodbye (Final)
One man who had been standing off to one side seemed as though he was waiting to speak with me but always someone came ahead of him. he came at last and shook my hand. In Spanish, in a tender voice, he said, "Freddie was the most wonderful person I ever met. Please accept my condolences. I cannot forget freddie." "what is your name?" I asked. "the name is not important. It is what freddie did for me." "what do you mean?" "what do you mean?" "we played drums together." And it came to me that maybe this was the guy freddie gave his drums to, the set that Buddy Rich had given to him. I had noticed one day that they were gone and when I asked freddie about them, he brushed it off be saying, "I don't need the drums. I gave them to someone who is making a living with them. he needs them more than I do." And I think the quiet man I met in the cemetery that day was that guy. At the end of that walk I turned to face those people and, with upraised arms, I said, "thank you very much. freddie loved you, you beautiful, wonderful people." that is when I realized I was not crying alone. we came home and I went my bedroom and closed the door. I had to be alone.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince. (part 1)

That week a reporter from the National Enquirer called me, "do you plan to watch the 'Chico' show on friday?" I said, "I will watch the show. whatever happens to me, if I die, I watch it." "can I call you back friday?" he called me again, and I said, "I could not stop crying and yet at the same time I could not turn the TV off." And I watch it ever since. when we see the video tapes of freddie's first appearance on "The Tonight Show" or watch as we surprised him on "The Mike Douglas Show" or we see him on "Chico and the Man," he is not dead for us. It is only when we go to the cemetery that we cry. the letters came, and the telegrams by the hundreds and thousands. President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter wrote, "Rosalynn and I would like to express our sympathy at this time of sorrow. please know that our prayers are with you."

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is- and always will be-my prince. (part 2)

Mrs. Betty Ford called and talked with me for 20 minutes. Governor Romero Barcelo of Puerto Rico and his wife cabled, "your son's many friends and admirers in Puerto Rico were shocked and deeply saddened by his tragic death." In his letter, Bob Hope wrote, "It is impossible to think he ended up the he did. I know it couldn't have been the real freddie, because you as his mother gave him a wonderful attitude and a personality that captured the attention of anybody that came in contact with him. "On our last trip to Montreal we had so many laughs and he was always a delight to be with. And although I did get to work with him, we didn't get to enjoy him for very long, but we all feel consolation in the fact that we did get to know and enjoy him for that period of his life."

I feel blessed, forunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince (part 3)

A letter came signed by the persons who worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. A Methodist minister wrote, "He was so bright, why him? why someone so gifted?" A girl in Detroit, wrote, "please forgive us for not sensing you hurt inside. So eager for you to make us laugh we neglected to let you cry. we forgot for just a moment that you were human too, that you had no one to dry your tears A letter came from an inmate of Jackson Prison in Michigan, "we spent many hours watching our brother on TV. he will be remembered for making our stay in prison less trying." some nursing residents wrote to say, "freddie made us happy every week. he lightened our lives." And a letter signed by an entire classroom said, "we will miss him deeply." one fan wrote and said, "freddie came to us like a comet in the sky, rushing through and leaving a trail of light."

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince.(part 4)

some of freddie's friends wrote me too. Beverly Cholakian thanked me for remaining strong and determined throughout the ordeal. Her kind words about freddie still mean much to me. she wrote: "as a performer, freddie prinze was strong. freddie pruetzel, the human being, was extremely sensitive and at times weak. and there were those who took advantage of freddie's weakness and sensitivity until there was nothing left in his heart, only an existence

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince. (part 5)

"A few days before the accident, Freddie told me he was tired and wanted to go back to the days in New York when things were simple and love was sincere. "I believe Freddie found his home, for Freddie was a strong believer in God. I know he has attained his ultimate goal-God's love." Freddie's close friend, Mando, wrote a song about Freddie which goes in part:
"He was tired and lonely,
Yes, a tired young man was he.
And his pains and sorrows
Led him away from reality.
He used to laugh with everyone
And a smile was always on his face
"Till his troubles arrived
Then frowns began to take their place."

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince.
(part 6)

Even to this day,I cannot help but feel the terrible turmoil that tortured our son for so long. Even during those long hours of his last day, everything he said and did was a plea for help. He sought the help of others. yet Freddie was left along. WHY? No one ever called us, his parents, to see what we might be able to do to help him. WHY?
The people around Freddie knew his problems. They knew of his bouts with depression. They knew about his court struggles, his marriage problems, his battle with drugs. They knew he was physically and mentally wasted, on the edge of a complete breakdown, yet no one seemed to notice.

Freddie's compulsive use of Quaaludes:
Freddie's compulsive use of quaaludes was also a cry for help. Even today I hear cry as I read his medical history and see date after date when Quaaludes and other drugs were prescribed for him by his physician, Dr. Alblon:

December 3,1974. 100 Quaaludes,300 milligrams
April 4,1975. 100 Quaaludes, 300 milligrams.
October 27,1975. 50 Valiums.
November 7,1975. Two Ritalins, 20 milligrams.
February 25,1976. Six Quaaludes,300 milligrams.
February 26,1976. 50 Quaaludes, 300 milligrams.
November 16,1976. 24 Quaaludes,300 milligrams

I have no doubt that freddie also spent money for dope on the streets. And I am saddened at how easily young people get whatever they want on the streets.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince. (part 7)
Freddie had come to Hollywood with a dream he believed about to come true. But Hollywood he stopped being a person and became-as he put it one day-"only a piece of merchandise. He was offered a fortunate to endorse lunch boxes bearing his trademark quip: "It's not my job." Freddie the product had replaced Freddie the person. He saw his efforts, everything he had worked for, taken away from him. In his litigation with David Jonas, his ex-manager ended up with 205,000. Besides that amount, Freddie had to pay legal fees amounting to approximately $100,000. The decision blew Freddie's mind. No one that young is that strong. It seemed to my son that he had lost everything. The dream turned into a nightmare so terrible it frightened our son to death. was all this what killed Freddie? was it that the dollar was more important than the human being with feelings and emotions? was the image more important than the real person? Is society responsible for the Freddie Prinzes that die from drugs and pressures? If this is the case, then we live in a society suffering from spiritual malnutrition.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince.(part 8)
In studying my Bible, I know that there was agony in God's heart far greater than any agony of mine when His own son died. And in that death, He became my Savior and my Friend. He is the one who has given me strength to go beyond Freddie's death in the desire to bring some hope to others. So I walk around today and I try to do the best I can for others. The tragedy of Freddie's death is a wound that will never heal, but today I feel closer to God than ever before. And I know that I will meet my son again. Many mothers and wives have written to me and said, "I lost my daughter" or I lost my son" or "I lost my husband" and have asked me, "what can I do? tell me your secret. how can I be strong?" To them I say, my dear friends, positive faith may be the missing link in your life. whatever your problem is, reach out to Jesus. he is the answer. he will give you strength. I hope all of you can find the inner peace that I have found through His love and mercy. And my advice to young people is this: Be aware who your friends are if loneliness and depression have caught up with you. Drugs or a divorce court are not the answer. Believe in a Supreme Being and in the power of prayer. And in the importance of faith. Don't go for temporary happiness. What happened to Freddie doesn't have to happen to you.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother he lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince. (part 9)

Freddie loved life. He was grateful to be alive. He loved the streets and the street people. He once said, "The truth is everywhere you find it, and you find a lot of it in the streets."

Freddie was not as poor as he claimed to be. He talked about being from the ghetto, but he never really lived in a ghetto. He seemed to have a guilt complex about being more privileged than other kids he knew. And because he was so sensitive, he felt the hurt that some of his less fortunate friends experienced. His ethnic humor was a channel to bring a message about minority groups."I make people laugh. but I want people to go home and think," he said on more than one occasion. Freddie was a sucker for a sad tale, and many people who professed to be his friends took advantage of his generosity. He gave a lot of money away to so-called friends, and he lent money to people who never bothered to pay him back.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince.(part 10).

Freddie seemed to feel that he had a mission in life to solve the world's problems, but he was disappointed.

In Freddie's handwriting I have the following: "A friend is faithful, trusting, and helpful, someone that realizes your imperfections and stands by you. A friend makes your problems his problems. He will be with you when you need him most. He is never too busy to listen to you. That is what a friend means to me."

Freddie,s description of a friend is the decription of the friend who has helped me live through the hurt of my son's living and dying. That Friend is my silent partner, now and always.

I feel blessed, fortunate and proud that I am Freddie Prinze's mother. He lives in my heart. He is-and always will be-my prince.

THE END


The Beginning
Looking back: How it all begin (part 1)

I had just arrived in New York from Puerto Rico a few days earlier. I had come to Manhattan in order to help my mother and family. I figured I could do better in New York than I could in Puerto Rico on the $18 a week I made there as a bookkeeper.

I remembered my loneliness during those early days in New York. I remembered too how-when I was sick for three days-I lost my job in the garment factory where I worked. That had happened on a friday, and it left me with only 65 cents in my purse. I went to bed and stayed there until Sunday, figuring I would not feel so hungry lying down.

Looking back: How it all begin (part 2)
But that same weekend I also learned that, no matter what happened to me, I could trust God. On Sunday afternoon, I finally got up and went out, walking west to 8th Avenue. On the corner of 25th Street I saw a lighted cross in a doorway. I went in, and one flight
up I found a little church with a service in progress. When it came time for the collection I looked at the 50 cents in my purse, which by then was all the money I had left. In my heart, I said to God, "With 50 cents there is not much I can do. So I put myself in your hands. I'll trust you." And I put a quarter in the collection, keeping the other for myself.

the very next day I found a job.


Looking back: How it all begin (part 3)
And it was not long after that I met Karl. He had been in this country ever since he left home in Germany in 1934 at the age of 19. We first crossed paths on one of those sunny but chilly days in march. Another girl and I had stopped at a hot dog stand outside the building where we worked. We did not know how to say "hot dog' in English. A tall man standing nearby saw our predicament and spoke to us in Spanish. He helped us to buy the hot dogs and told us he'd just returned from a business trip to Puerto Rico. He said,"my name is Edward Karl Pruetzel." Then he gave me one of his business cards. I think it must have taken me all of a week just to learn how to pronounce his name!

Looking Back: How It All Began (part 4)
At Karl's suggestions he and I had lunch together at a nearby Child's restuarant the next day. And the next. It became a daily habit. Since Karl was older than me, I often wondered over our lunches why such an attractive man was still single. And then he confided in me that he had been married once before and was the father of two children, now living with his former wife. We soon fell in love ourselves, one day he asked me to marry him. Of course, I accepted. We were married in a judge's chambers in New Jersey. Then we lived for awhile on Pelham Parkway in the East Bronx. Since my teen years my dream was to have a little boy of my own. Karl and I planned to have only one child so that we could give him - I felt certain the child would be a boy - a good education.

Looking back: How it all begin (part 5)
I wanted to live close to my sister, so before our baby was born we moved to 61st street and Amsterdam Ave. On June 22, 1954, at 4:09 on a Tuesday morning our son was born. He weighed nine and a half pounds. sixteen girls were born that day in St. Claire's Hospital, but he was the only boy. He was yelling he head off so the doctor told him," all these girls are yours. you can keep quiet now." We named our baby Frederick Karl Pruetzel.

Looking Back: How it all began (part 6)
Six days later we brought him home. my family was so excited waiting for him. they had a chest full of toys. from that day on I watched my family arguing over Freddie: "I want him now." "you have him before." "It's my turn!" "I'd like to feed him." And that's the way it went! I was really happy. Freddie was fortunate. from the day he was born, he was surrounded by love. Aunts, uncle's and older cousins all showered him with affection. So much so that all that attention worried me a little. I didn't want him to be spoiled. But after a while, I just let all that love happen and stopped worrying. It was good for Freddie, for me and for my family. Love gives us strength to survive.

Looking Back: How It All Began (part 7)
About five months after we brought Freddie home, I took a good look around our three-room apartment and decided there just wasn't room enough for Karl and me and a growing baby. We would have to move. I talked to Karl about it, and he agreed. Soon he was out looking around for a new apartment for us.And he found it, a seven-and-half room apartment on West 157th Street in Washington Heights, right where Riverside Drive and Broadway come together. It was perfect for us. The building's elegance was beginning to fade, but it still boasted a uniformed doorman and a lobby with a beautiful chandelier hanging from its high ceiling. The place did have class. Best of all, it had a second apartment for rent-for my sisters. We had always tried to live near each other,just to keep the family together. Now it would still be possible for us to stay near one another. So we all moved in.

Looking back: How it all begin (part 8)
We were the first Latins to break the Anglo exclusiveness of the building. So our new neighbors resented our coming. And they didn't hide their feelings very long. One day, about a week after we had moved into the building. I entered the elevator with freddie in my arms. Two other women, both residents, were already in the elevator before me. One said to the other, purposely loud enough for me to hear, "I think the spics are moving in!"

Looking Back: How it all begin (part 9)
I was shocked. I had never before encountered discrimination. and I began to wonder about the kind of people Freddie would have around him as he grew up. But I decided to stick it out. After all, all my family were there. And the neighborhood was a quiet one. Besides, our apartment gave Freddie plenty of room to move around in. So I ignored our neighbors-even though I couldn't avoid them-and kept him close to me.

Freddie spent most of his first five years in that apartment. When I was at work, my sister's teenage daughters took turn caring for him. And we never let him out alone. He was always accompanied by his father or me or one of his cousins. Every night I prayed, "Lord, let Freddie become the person you want him to be."

Growing up: (part 1)
To get to school, he had to take the subway uptown, and I was always scared for him, maybe I was overprotective, but I was afraid to have him in public school. I'd heard about knives and the muggings. And I knew about the extortion rackets the kids ran, as bullies made gentler kids fork over money before they would be allowed to go to the bathroom. Though I did not want Freddie mixed up in anything like that at school, I knew I had to let him go. Already he was beginning to show signs of restlessness. And he wanted to begin living his own life. Sometimes Freddie was upset when he got home from school. In the lunchroom, bigger kids were picking on smaller ones, knocking trays out of their hands and things like that-just trying to pick fights.

Finally one day, Freddie said, "I don't want to eat in the lunchroom any more. I want to eat outside."

Growing up: (part 2)
I then began giving Freddie lunch money so he could eat outside. But other kids got wise to that. So they would lie in wait for Freddie on the way to school and demand his lunch money.

Give us a quarter. Give us 50 cents, "they would say. Freddie knew they meant business, so he was forced to hand over some of the money I gave to him.

That's when I started giving him an extra dollar so he'd have something to give those who were robbing him, "keep the rest of your money in your shoe." Eventually, Freddie made a joke out of that experience, and it became a standard part of his routine.

Freddie found out at P.S that he could use his humor to get out of many tough situations. However, even though he might laugh on the subway with his enemies when he got home he'd break down.

Growing up: (part 3)
I knew he was crying many an afternoon behind the closed door of his room. Some of the times when he was upset, he'd go to the bathroom for a shower and, above the gushing water, i'd hear his sobbing.

I never let on that I knew about his tears. I pretended I did not see his red, puffy eyes when he'd come out to the kitchen later on for some lemonade and a cookie. I respected his privacy. I let him keep his manhood.

Talented Freddie: (part 1)
It was about this same time that he started with the guitar. He'd been taking piano lessons for four years, but the kids made fun of him, so he gave it up.

As young as Freddie was then, he was already striving to find his doorway into the entertainment world. And he thought that maybe singing with his guitar might be the way to do it.

That first guitar cost Karl and me $150-a lot of money in those days. And it almost cost me pneumonia as well!

Talented Freddie: (part 2)
On a wet, freezing cold day, we took the subway to 42nd Street and walked from one music store to another for hours. Freddie wanted one certain make guitar, and he was not going to be satisfied until he found it.

So we kept on looking. We went all across to 2nd Avenue and then up into the Sixties and back over to 5th Avenue. Finally in a store near 50th Street and 6th Avenue, we got it.

Freddie was so happy as he walked besides me through the snow to Columbus Avenue where we caught the 7th Avenue train. It was after four by the time we got back to the apartment, and we were soaking wet. But I felt it had been worth it as, a few minutes later, I heard Freddie tentatively picking out chords on his new guitar.

Talented Freddie (Part 3)
The guitar was just the beginning. But as I look back on Freddie's career I mark that day as a turning point. From then on show business was serious business with Freddie. If he had any doubts about his goal in life before that day, he had no doubt afterwards. He had taken a decisive step forward that early day in the spring of 1969.

Ironically though, when barely four years later Freddie found himself with 40 million fans across the country, it was because of his gift of comedy-and not because of his guitar. During those same four years, he attempted other things as well.

He even tried his hand at songwriting-and actually received $200 for one song he wrote. there was also a stint with drums, and with those drums he moved into the music group, Mind, Soul and Body.







Freddie Prinze

As Told By His Mother: Mrs. Maria Pruetzel is from the book called "The Freddie Prinze Story" written by Freddie Prinze's mother Mrs. Maria Pruetzel and John A. Barbour.

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