Stan Freberg

Stanley Victor Freberg was born in August of 1926, in Los Angeles. He was the only son of a Reverend Victor Freberg, a minister in the Baptist Church.

As a young lad he worked for his uncle, a magician, however, as it was the golden age of radio the prospect of him working in that industry appealed to him more than the desire to follow in his uncle’s footsteps.

Stan became recognised as an outstanding debater, in California, while still in his teens. He turned his back on a scholarship in drama and, instead, went to Hollywood where he auditioned at Warner Bros. Cartoons. There, directors were sufficiently impressed as to put him to work alongside the legendary Mel Blanc whose voice provided those of a number of animated characters.

Before long Stan was impersonating celebrities on a popular local radio show, all of the while developing voices that would continue to stand him in good stead for his career in cartoon, radio and recording.

Nevertheless, Stan’s career was to be interrupted by his induction into the Army, in 1945. Upon his discharge, in 1947, Stan began working in the fledgling industry of television; helping to devise and produce what was to become an extremely popular children’s programme.

Circa 1950, Stan was signed to a recording contract by Capitol Records and, in early 1951, his release, “John And Marsha”, a satire on soap operas, became an instant hit.

Stan lampooned Johnnie Ray’s huge hit, “Cry”, when he released “Try”. However, his biggest hit, “St. George And The Dragonet”, came in 1953 when he parodied television’s police series, ‘Dragnet’. The track has Stan as Sergeant Joe Friday — played in the series by Jack Webb — and a young actor, Daws Butler, as his junior police partner, Frank. Daws was later to provide the voices of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound in the cartoons of the late 1950s. “Little Blue Riding Hood” was on the reverse of the single, which was to spend four weeks at No.1. In all, it sold two million copies.

In 1957, Stan wrote and performed “Tele-Vee-Shun”, an early commentary on the quality of television and how it was affecting the populace.

Stan continued to send up successful records, throughout the decade. Fans of Jason Derulo’s “Don’t Wanna Go Home”, in 2011, will recognise his sampling of Harry Belafonte’s classic, “Banana Boat (Day-O)”, which was another parodied by Stan. In 1958, he received a Grammy for ‘The Stan Freberg Show’, a comical series of programmes on the radio.

In this same year, Stan released his most controversial work, “Green Chri$tma$”, an assault on the over-commercialisation of a time viewed to be of such religious significance.

Despite this, Stan Freberg turned his hand to producing humorous advertisements for radio and television. His campaigns, in terms of sales, were extremely successful and his talents, in this regard, became eagerly sought after. Stan steadfastly refused to have anything to with the promotion of products related to alcohol or tobacco.

Nineteen eighty-nine saw the publication of Stan’s autobiography, ‘It Only Hurts When I Laugh’.

My favourite recording of Stan Freberg’s is “The Lone Psychiatrist”, from 1955, in which he parodies ‘The Lone Ranger’, a popular western hero of the time.

“The Lone Psychiatrist” has been included in the list of my favourite recordings, which can be located in the suggested playlists.