Comedian and Voice Actor Stan Freberg Dies at 88

Satirist Stan Freberg Dead
freberg: Bill Bridges/Getty Images

Satirist Stan Freberg, who influenced generations with his witty comedy albums and cartoon voices and memorable advertising campaigns, died Tuesday in Santa Monica. He was 88 and had been suffering from respiratory problems and pneumonia.

His son Donavan posted the news on his Facebook page, saying, “He was, and will always be, my hero, and I will carry his brilliant legacy forward as best I am able.”

The writer-producer crafted some of the funniest TV commercials of the 1960s and ’70s, including “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!,” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”

He also scored such novelty-record hits as “John and Marsha,” “Saint George and the Dragonet” and “Green Christmas.” His 1961 comedy album “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America” remains a classic of the form and an influence for a generation of comedians.

Freberg produced the Emmy-winning kids puppet show “Time for Beany” — Albert Einstein was said to be a fan during his years at CalTech — and he hosted numerous variety series and specials on TV and radio.

Among the many characters he voiced were Junyer Bear in “What’s Brewin’, Bruin” and the voice of Beaky Buzzard. For Disney, he voiced Beaver in “Lady and the Tramp” and Wile E. Coyote’s father Cage in the short “Little Go Beep.” He auditioned to play C-3PO in “Star Wars,” but actor Anthony Daniels ended up doing his own voice.

His live-action acting included roles in “The Monkees,” “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.,” the role of Mr. Parkin on “Roseanne” and “The Weird Al Show.” His “Stan Freberg Show” on radio was controversial for several reasons, including the fact that he refused to accept tobacco companies as sponsors.

See More: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Salutes His Hero, Stan Freberg

Born in Pasadena, Calif., he started voicing Warner Bros. cartoons such as “Roughly Squeaking” and “It’s a Grand Old Nag” as soon as he graduated from high school. He continued working well into his ’80s and released an album, “Songs in the Key of Freberg,” with his wife in 2010.

He is survived by his wife Hunter, son Donavan and daughter Donna Jean.

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  1. charles cap says:

    My Soc. Sci. teacher cracked up on the “Crossing the Delaware” sketch. “…gouge a serviceman….stifle the small businessman…”, That was spring of 1963.

  2. Jack Carrerow says:

    A genius. I saw a retrospective of his work years ago and came away feeling that he was up there with Clemens and Will Rogers as far as American humorists. I’ve been a fan since I was about 9-years-old. I’m 65 now. RIP Stan.

  3. Mark says:

    I am too young to remember Mr. freburg’s work when first out, but I get the jokes. Of course ;Stan would have real fun with what is going on in DC.

  4. Richard says:

    In the words of Bang Gunleigh, U.S. Marshall Field: “Somebody sure cut through that fence alright…” Good to see the ads again, too. (All that’s missing: “Beany and Cecil” with Stan and the great Daws Butler.)

  5. MerryMarjie says:

    Truly one of the greats! His talent knew no bounds, and his humor was so biting, so witty that you had to pay attention for fear of missing something. I enjoyed everything he did, from advertising to comedy albums. When my daughter was in an advertising class in college, she took my Freberg albums to share with her class, and he gained a whole new enthusiastic audience.

  6. GlennBerk says:

    A sad day, the loss of an original and irreplaceable talent. Freberg’s LPs nurtured me through middle and high school – he was the gateway intoxicant leading to the Firesign Theatre, the Goons and Cheech & Chong. Sorry to hear of his passing – long live the King !

    . . . sir, the crew is revolting . . .

  7. Jesse White, a Freberg regular, was featured in the Chun King spot.

  8. Griff says:

    It’s the end of an era. He was among the greatest comic talents of the past seventy years. His many comedy recordings and great CBS radio show of the 1950s were extraordinary for their wit and cleverness. His fans will never forget him.

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