You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stan Freberg: Madcap Maestro Marks 70 Years in Show Business

Parody king’s gags skewered social ills and turned ads into art

Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it.

The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising.

As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold his own alongside Mel Blanc. (Freberg voiced Cecil, the seasick sea serpent, for the KTLA kids show, “Time for Beany.”)

The Phil Spector of the ’50s novelty record boom, he churned out a string of hits for Capitol, including a delirious “Dragnet” parody set to medieval myth. (“My name is St. George. I’m a knight. Saturday, July 10, 8:05 p.m. I was working out of the castle …”)

An entire relationship was encapsulated when two lovers kept repeating each other’s names: “John!” “Marsha?”

Later, this maddest of mad men energized moribund Mad Ave. with witty, memorable spots like “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!,” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”

But the product was always the star. Freberg recalls a hotel clerk quoting Sunsweet’s tagline and claiming, “I only heard it once and I never forgot it.”

Comfortably ensconced on L.A.’s Westside with devoted wife Hunter, and surrounded by awards, Freberg sees continued life in his brand. The 1958 consumerism satire “Green Chri$tma$” itches to become an animated short.

Legendary history spoof “The United States of America” almost made Broadway until he got fed up with “Abominable Showman” David Merrick.

“Merrick told me, ‘Take Lincoln out of the Civil War. He doesn’t work,’ ” a still-frustrated Freberg growls.

The likes of Steven Spielberg, Paul McCartney and Adam Sandler avowedly cherish the LP, and he hopes to expand its fanbase.

“Freeb” has been a devoted Native Americans booster ever since his “United States” number “Take an Indian to Lunch” skewered a pol trolling for votes.

On a TV show, he invited “any Indians within the sound of my voice to lunch at my hotel tomorrow.” (“Appropriately,” he recalls, “it was the Algonquin.”) They arrived and were feted en masse.

Decades later, the Navajo nation gave the song a standing O at a Kennedy Center “First Americans” gala.

“It was,” he says mistily, “the most important night of my career.”

Tipsheet

What:
The Genius of Stan Freberg: Celebrating 70 Years of Creative Entertainment

When:
7:30 p.m. Nov. 2

Where:
Egyptian Theater, Hollywood

More TV

  • SAG-AFTRA Reaches Deal on Television Animation

    SAG-AFTRA Reaches Deal on Television Animation Contract

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • ALLAN HEINBERG ABC

    Marvel Female Superhero Project in the Works at ABC From 'Wonder Woman' Writer

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • TV News Roundup: 'The Haunting of

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'The Haunting of Hill House' Drops First Trailer (Watch)

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • James F. Lopez

    Will Packer Productions Names James F. Lopez President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • Master Chef Gordon Ramsey

    'MasterChef' Renewed for Season 10 at Fox

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • SNOWFALL -- "The World is Yours"

    'Snowfall' Renewed for Season 3 at FX

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

  • Chevy Chase SNL

    Chevy Chase Basically Hates the Current 'SNL'

    Whenever you chuckle at a funny ad spot, think of Stan Freberg, the spirit-genius behind it. The multi-hyphenate, who prefers the simple label “satirist,” literally changed the state of multimedia through 70 distinguished years in animation, radio, recordings and advertising. As a pop-obsessed Pasadena kid, he bluffed his way into a WB audition to hold […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content