Freddie Prinze Jr.: 1976—: Actor - Pursued Acting Career After High School
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalFreddie Prinze Jr.: 1976—: Actor Biography - Pursued Acting Career After High School, First Leading Role, Starred In Scooby-doo
Pursued Acting Career After High School
Freddie Prinze, Jr. was born on March 8, 1976, to Freddie and Kathy (Cochran) Prinze, in Los Angeles, California. At the time of his son's birth, twenty-two-year-old Freddie Prinze, Sr. was already a television star through his leading role on Chico and the Man. The half-Puerto Rican, half-Hungarian comic, who was born with the name Frederick Karl Pruetzel, was the first Latino prime-time television star and his good looks made him a heartthrob as well. Yet the young actor was troubled by a drug habit that included cocaine and prescription drug abuse and alcoholism. A bout of depression over his failing marriage sent the actor into a tailspin that ended with his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on January 28, 1977.
Kathy Prinze stayed in Los Angeles for a couple of years after her husband's death but decided to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, around 1980. She had worked as a travel agent in the past but now pursued a career as a real estate agent. Growing up as an only child with a somewhat shy nature, Freddie Prinze, Jr. found a creative outlet in acting soon after the move to New Mexico. A member of the Albuquerque Children's Theater, Prinze also joined the Duo Drama Company as a teenager. His love of comic books served as another favorite activity while he was growing up. After attending three different high schools in Albuquerque, Prinze graduated from La Cueva High School in 1994. Deciding to forgo college in order to pursue an acting career, Prinze then moved back to Los Angeles.
Prinze enrolled in acting classes after arriving in Los Angeles and worked at a restaurant owned by family friends in order to pay his bills. Within a year, Prinze had landed his first important part, a four-word guest appearance as a school hoodlum on the popular television comedy Family Matters. Prinze then secured his first film role, appearing as Claire Danes's boyfriend in the drama To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. Although the movie was not a popular success, it was a prestige project that helped Prinze gain a reputation as an up-and-coming actor. Prinze also benefited from his quirky role in the independent film The House of Yes in 1997, which made the top-ten lists of several movie critics. Returning to television for a leading role in the after school special Too Soon for Jeff, about teenage pregnancy, Prinze also appeared in Detention: The Siege at Johnson High in 1997. Also in 1997 Prinze joined a well known ensemble cast for the teen thriller I Know What You Did Last Summer, where he met Sarah Michelle Gellar—his future wife. After just three years in Hollywood, Prinze was now regularly featured in teen-oriented magazines as a heartthrob, an image that received a boost when he was named to People magazine's "Fifty Most Beautiful People" lists in 1999 and 2000.