I have always enjoyed the chemistry
between these two handsome men Chico and Mando. As much as it was shown in Ed and Chico. I, as well as others, could tell
of a special bond of friendship between Chico and Mando. Just as much as Freddue Prinze and Isaac
Ruiz were very close, they themselves held a friendship that would last forever.
|photo courtesy of Isaac Ruiz
Isaac Ruiz center of Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson
When I first met Freddie, he was only 18 years old, and didn't know
how to drive. He was still living with his Mom Maria, and his Dad Karl, in New York. He had been on a couple of
big T.V. shows already, namely Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson.
As You all know, he was a smash on Carson, and Sammy Davis, Jr. was
also on Carson that night, and loved Freddie's performance.
No first-time guest ever got to sit on the couch when on the Johnny
Carson show. Johnny wouldn't allow anyone to sit with him on the first, or sometimes second time on. That is just
the way he was. I suppose he felt you had to earn your dues. But after Freddy finished, and the audience was clapping
for him, Sammy Davis, Jr., who was sitting talking with Johnny, waived to Freddy to come and sit down. And Johnny, looked
surprised but he too, waived for Freddie to come and sit. It had to be a first!
Anyway, Johnny fell in Love with Freddy, and even had Freddy Co-Host
his show when he was off. Freddie was just incredible, and such a talent! But through all of this, Freddie still
didn't know how to drive, and did not have a car. He loved going fast, and it gave him a thrill, and he was just a kid
at heart, in "Hollywoodland"
But remember, the key to all I am saying, is Freddy didn't know how
to drive. Well, when we began doing Chico, he had an apartment in Hollywood, at 7777 Hollywood Blvd., and it was way
across town from where I lived in El Sereno, a little town in East Los Angeles But Freddy used to ask me if he
could borrow my Cadillac. He loved my El Dorado, especially when he found out it used to belong to Hoss from Bonanza.
Plus, it was a gorgeous automobile.
Well I had asked Freddy if he had his license, and if he had insurance,
and also if he knew how to drive. He was very convincing, that he did know how to drive, and he would take good care
of "Hoss." (I named the car after Dan Blocker) So, I wanted to be a pal to him and I let him borrow the car. I
left him the car on a Saturday morning, and let him borrow it for the weekend. He brought the car to me on Monday to
the studios, (NBC) and I couldn't believe my eyes. The car was wrecked on all four sides! Front, sides, and trunk.
Ay Dios mio!
That rascal and prankster made mince-meat out of my beautiful El
Dorado Cadillac! I am not kidding you, I was in shock! It was too much! How in the world could Freddy have
wrecked it on all sides? So, I went lookinf for him and I couldn't find him anywhere. He was hiding from me, and
was scared to death. I had a reputation, as a dude not to mess with, and Freddie was really scared.
Yeah I was upset, but when I found Freddie, he had a way of "charming"
you, that you couldn't help but not be mad. Freddy was definitely a charmer, and schmoozer, and boy did he ever put
on a show for me. Freddie was such a cutie, that he could charm a snake from a snake charmer! He had my car fixed,
but the car was never the same after that.
Freddy would then borrow my caddy and tell me, "C'mon Zak...I couldn't
mess it up any more, could I?" But Freddy the prankster did. He was a prankster for sure, but a charming one!
Que loco, mi amigo Freddie!..
Hi Everyone! I was looking at some old photos
of me & Freddie, and I ran across an old piece of paper, that had a skit I had written for Freddie, (which he never used)
and I started laughing and laughing, as I was remembering our conversation, and how me and Freddie were practically rolling
on the floor, of his old apartment on Hollywood Blvd. (7777 to be exact)
Anyway, I thought I would share it with you all.
As I go through memorabilia, of Freddie and the show, at times it is very difficult, because I began to cry thinking of my
friend, and his pain, and then it starts all over again, and I begin remembering the sad things, and it becomes painfull.
There was a side of Freddie that I wish all of you
could have known. A side that would have you in stitches, and tears, from laughing so hard. A side without the
drugs, pills, and alcohol that showed Freddie as the little kid he was.
Freddie loved to crack up, and I am so privilidged
to have had sessions with Freddie, either at my home, his apartment, or his Mom's, that were hilarious. They should
have been taped, and they would have made Freddie millions!
Forgive me for being redundant, but Freddie was a
genious! That kid had more talent in one finger, than I have in my whole body! What a funny, funny, young man.
The shows, the tapes, or whatever there is on Freddie,
do not fully compliment his talent. He was funnier off camera, than in front of it.
Anyway, on with the story. I have told you the
story, of how Freddie would call me on a Saturday, and lure me to his apartment to show me his "new skit". Well, this
was partially true, because he would do his new skit for me, but the real intent, was to borrow my Cadillac El Dorado, that
I had bought from "Hoss", Dan Blocker of Bonanza.
But one particular Saturday, I called Freddie, and
told him I had something to show him, and Freddie kept bugging me to tell him what it was. I said no, I'll tell him
when I see him at his apartment. He said NO! Either I tell him on the phone, or he was going to go to the highest
building in Hollywood, write a suicide note saying that Mando, from Chico & The Man pushed him, and he would personally
make a phone call to the police department.
When I asked him where would the phone come from,
he said he would do an s.o.s. on the telephone wire. He would act like a stubborn little kid, (but on purpose) that
has to have his way. He was so funny! So I gave in, and told him I had written a skit for him, that I wanted him
to see. He would then say, I should have went to that high building! LOL He was too much. What timing!
Anyway, I began to tell him the skit, and before I
continue...you must tune in again on Thursday to hear Mando & Chico, part ll, & what happened. Or
as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story"....talk to you Thursday....Mando
So, I began to tell Freddie about the skit I had written.
Before I continue, I must tell you, that comedians
such as Freddie, Richard Prior, David Brenner, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, all have egos bigger than you can imagine, and will
not take skits written by a friend, or someone else.
Freddie, and Richard Prior, were every bit like that.
So, when Freddie told me he would listen, that was a "biggie!" (I had even tried, to give, some material to Richard
Prior, but though it was funny, he wouldn't use it.) It wasn't personal, but just one of those "comedian" things.
Well, Freddie would sit in front of me making these
funny, funny faces, and acting as if he was bored, and all the distracting type of things, and almost closing his
eyes, like he was falling asleep. He was making me laugh, but he was also getting me upset!
I told him, "c'mon Freddie, don't be cold!"
and he'd say, "O.K., O.K., I was just messing with you!" Then he would say, "Wait Zak, let me go to the bathroom!"
and I'd say again, c'mon Freddie, quit fooling around, I'm serious here!"
Then Freddie would grab himself by the crotch as guys
do when they have to go, and ran to the bathroom. I mean, it was frustrating, cause though I loved Freddie, and we were
friends, Freddie had ways of annoying you on purpose, so he could get a reaction out of you.
Freddie as a comedian, was a genious. I have
said this many times before! Once he got a reaction out of someone, if it was funny....he would use it in one of his
skits. That's how he used to write. About true life situations.
So anyway, I am waiting now about 15-20 minutes, and
am shouting, "Freddie...FREDDIE!" and he wouldn't answer. So I would go over to the bathroom, and there was Freddie,
sitting on the John, with his clothes on, and reading the funnies from the newspaper.
He would get me so mad, then I would say F_ _ _ you
Freddie, you Chicken S _ _ _. and he'd come back and say c'mon Zak, I was only foolin'. You gotta admit brotha,
it was funny!
And I'd say, Freddie, I came all the way from East
L.A. to see you man, and you didn't make me laugh this time, but you did manage to piss me off! Then Freddie would grab
a knife from the kitchen and go into a Puerto Rican accent and say, "My bru-ther. Jew R rite! I am a peeg!
I am a F_ _ _ _ _ G peeg, who does not de-surv to leave!"
and he would grab the knife with both hands on the
end of the handle, and act like he was going to stab himself, Kamakasi style, then he would put his hand over his forehead,
like someone in distress, and close his eyes, then turn and look at me and say...
"Goodbye, mamacita mia, goodbye papacito, goodbye...Ed
Brown's garage, goodbye jonny Car-sun, good bye louie, my gar-bage snoop-ing ne-grito,
and goodbye to jew...man-do..my goood a-mi-go, no
by then I couldn't hold back from laughing, and laughing,
and Freddie would begin to laugh himself, and we would be rolling crackin up! I was no longer mad, and Freddie "won"
again, but after we finished laughing, Freddie pointed to me as if to say, "I got ya bro!"
But this time, I got the last laugh because I told
Freddie..."Yah, my man, you got me, but guess what? I'm still going to do my skit for you!" Freddie just rolled
his eyes, and fell on the couch as if to say..Oh S_ _ _! So, tune in on Monday, to hear the "rest of the story, and
"Mando's skit!" (part lll)
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 dissaster, 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 pittfalls. They truly loved, and cared for Freddie, but Freddie
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, thats 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 schocked, 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 Fredd 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
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"