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I saw the news today that Stan Freberg passed away at the age of 88. His death brought back memories of laughing at Freberg’s stuff during my formative years.
Back then, anything my parents liked I considered old and square, with two exceptions: Bob Newhart and Stan Freberg. My mom and dad played comedy albums at home, often when they had company for cocktails and chitchat. I would be alone in my room upstairs eavesdropping on them. That was when I first heard Stan Freberg.
Freburg was unpredictable and smart satirist who used recordings, TV and radio to their full potential. Some of his humor was slapstick, like Ernie Kovacs. His best stuff had a darker edge, more like Mort Saul and George Carlin. Read an excellent obit about him at http://nyti.ms/1FdKK9r
When I lived in LA in the early 1990s, I heard a great story about his eccentric habits from a friend who did voice acting work with him. My friend and Stan were both booked for a recording session one day in Burbank.
Stan lived in Santa Monica and never, ever drove a car. But, on the day of this session he decided to drive because someone had given him a new car. The drive from Santa Monica to Burbank typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.
At session time, my friend was there but Stan hadn’t arrived. After a half hour of searching for him, Stan called the studio. He had gotten lost. Instead of going east on the 101 to Burbank, Stan went west. He was in Reseda where he had booked a room at a Ramada Inn. Stan liked to stay at Ramada Inns because they had the same floor plans in all of their hotels.
My friend was dispatched to Reseda to bring Stan to the studio. Stan was not drunk or stoned, he had gotten lost in thought on the 405 and went the wrong way. He stopped at the Ramada Inn in Reseda because, in Stan’s words: Ramada Inn is where l can find reality.
If you’ve got an extra three minutes for a chuckle, give a listen to Stan Freberg’s parody of The Platters chestnut The Great Pretender: