Stan Freberg, whose freewheeling comic career in advertising garnered him worldwide acclaim and whose satirical entertainments abounded on TV, the radio and on records, has died. He was 88.
Freberg died of natural causes at a Santa Monica hospital, his son and daughter, Donavan and Donna Freberg, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
“He was and will always be my hero, and I will carry his brilliant legacy forward as best I am able,” his son wrote on Facebook.
The godfather of humorous and irreverent commercials, Freberg lampooned cultural institutions and described himself as a “guerilla satirist.” TheNew York Times dubbed him the “Che Guevara of advertising,” and years later, “Weird Al” Yankovic called him a major influence on his career.
“Very sad to say that one of my absolute all-time heroes has just passed away,” Yankovic wrote on Twitter. “RIP Stan Freberg. A legend, an inspiration, and a friend.”
Freberg also was known for his musical parodies. “Wun’erful Wun’erful,” his 1957 spoof of “champagne music” — on which he collaborated with orchestra leader Billy May — lampooned The Lawrence Welk Show.
He also parodied Johnnie Ray’s hit “Cry,” which Freberg rendered as “Try.” (Ray was quite angry until he realized Freberg was fueling sales of his record.)
The Los Angeles native had hit records of his own, including St. George and the Dragonet, a 1953 send-up of the series Dragnet. His recordings were so popular that he landed his own radio program in 1954, That’s Rich. Three years later, he presented The Stan Freberg Show on CBS Radio, where he regularly mocked commercials by advertising bogus products.
Stan was a true Hollywood success story. He actually walked off the bus, and into an ad agency and began writing copy. He wrote terrific ads, like many for Volkswagen during the Bug era.
And was hysterically funny without being lewd.
I hope you and Mel Blanc, June Foray, Bob Clampett and Daws Butler and the others are having a raucous time doing voices for The Supreme Being!