Prinze, Freddie, Jr.: 1976—: Actor

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Freddie Prinze, Jr.: 1976: Actor

With leading roles in She's All That, Summer Catch, and Scooby-Doo, Freddie Prinze, Jr. made his way into the ranks of Hollywood's leading men while he was still in his early twenties. Although his rise to stardom seemed magical, Prinze had to overcome the shadow of his famous father's death when he was just ten months old and the scrutiny that went along with bearing an already-recognizable name. Yet Prinze refused to change his name or succumb to the pressures that led his father to a self-destructive end. Acknowledged as one of the most photogenic and likable new actors of his generation, Prinze indeed maintained a realistic attitude about his career. "Once I settle down and have a family, I'll slow down and sell out and do a cheesy sitcom," the actor joked to Newsweek in 2000 about his busy schedule, "But up until then, I wanna work." Prinze also made headlines with his romance with actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of the popular drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whom he met while the two were shooting the horror movie I Know What You Did Last Summer. After dating for more than two years, the couple married in a ceremony held at a seaside resort in Mexico in September of 2002.

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.

At a Glance . . .

Born Freddie James Prinze, Jr. on March 8, 1976, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Freddie and Katherine Elaine (Cochran) Prinze; married Sarah Michelle Gellar, September 1, 2002.

Career: Actor, 1995. Appearances include: Family Matters, 1995; To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, 1996; The House of Yes, 1997; I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997; I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, 1998; She's All That, 1999; Wing Commander, 1999; Down to You, 2000; Boys and Girls, 2000; Summer Catch, 2001; Scooby-Doo, 2002.

Address: Management Artists Management Group, 9465 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

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 Gellarhis 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.

First Leading Role

Prinze became a bona-fide leading man in 1999 with his role in She's All That, in which he portrayed a high school sports star who makes a bet to turn an ugly-duckling classmate into a prom queen. Although some critics noted that the movie was downright sexist in its premiseas Prinze's character only started to care for his classmate after she underwent a beauty makeoverthe chemistry between Prinze and his co-star, Rachel Leigh Cook, helped the movie to earn respectable box-office figures. She's All That was the first of a series of teen-oriented films that starred Prinze, including Down to You with Julia Stiles and Boys and Girls with Claire Forlani, both released in 2000. The films were not major successes, but Prinze emerged from each one with a stronger profile in Hollywood. As Newsweek noted of his starring role as the nerd, Ryan, in Boys and Girls, "Prinze's turn as the repressed Ryan solidifies his pinup status: the camera lingers lovingly on his bare chest, not costar Claire Forlani's, during the sex scene."

Regarded as the star of teen films, Prinze broadened his range in 2001 with the movies Head Over Heels, in which he portrayed an F.B.I. agent, and Summer Catch, in which he starred as a young pitcher trying to make it to the major leagues. With his role in Summer Catch, Prinze felt that he was finally coming into his own as an actor. As he revealed in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, playing pitcher Ryan Dunne was almost a form of therapy through the emotional release it provided. "He was so different from me," Prinze explained, "Dunne was an emotional firecracker, exploding when things went wrong. He just burned with energy. Personally, when things upset me, I get quiet and closed off. I have nothing to say, and a chill sets in while I think about what's going on." Prinze followed the intense experience of Summer Catch with a decidedly lighter role in a guest appearance on the television sit-com Friends as a sensitive male nanny hired to take care of the newborn daughter of Ross Geller and Rachael Green.

Prinze's rise to leading roles and Hollywood success was not all he had to celebrate. He is also basking in the glow of his recent marriage to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Gellar, was successful in her own right as the title character in the cult television hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although the two young actors hit it off while filming I Know What You Did Last Summer, it was not until three years later that they began dating. Gellar and Prinze moved in together in early 2002 and married on September 1 of that year in a ceremony held at a Mexican seaside resort. The couple granted exclusive media rights to People, to cover the ceremony which duly reported the details of the lavish, yet intimate, occasion. "We will make great parents," Prinze reflected on his new marriage in an accompanying interview, "Because we had great role models who raised us."

Starred in Scooby-Doo

Perhaps Prinze's most unusual film appearance came with his starring role in the live-action adaptation of the popular 1970s cartoon Scooby-Doo. Dyeing his dark-brown hair blond to take on the role of Frederick Jones, the leader of a group of mystery-solving teenagers, Prinze admitted in an interview with the BBC that "It wasn't very manly, having to get my roots done every week. But other than that it was all right. At the end of the movie my hair was so dead that it literally felt like straw, so I had to shave my head so that something would grow back with some sort of life to it." Hair trauma aside, Prinze was glad that the six-month shoot in Australia for the film allowed him to spend time with Gellar, who co-starred in the movie.

Although the film was derided by critics, Scooby-Doo was the biggest hit of Prinze's career to date. After grossing over $50 million in its opening weekend in June of 2002, the film went on to take in over $150 million in North America alone. For his part in the movie, Prinze earned an estimated $2.25 million. A sequel to the Scooby-Doo movie was announced in 2002; set for release in 2004, the movie would feature Prinze and most of the other original cast members.

Selected works


To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, 1996.

The House of Yes, 1997.

I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997.

Sparkler, 1998.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, 1998.

She's All That, 1999.

Wing Commander, 1999.

Down to You, 2000.

Boys and Girls, 2000.

Head Over Heels, 2001.

Summer Catch, 2001.

Scooby-Doo, 2002.


Family Matters, 1995.

Too Soon for Jeff, 1997.

Detention: The Siege at Johnson High, 1997.

Friends, 2002.



Abrams, Lea, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.


Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 2001, p. 18.

Entertainment Weekly, January 27, 1995, p. 64.

Film Journal International, July 2002, p. 55.

Newsweek, June 19, 2000, p. 70.

People, September 30, 2002, p. 56.

Variety, June 17, 2002, p. 23.


"Freddie Prinze Jr.," Internet Movie Database,,+Freddie (March 31,2003).

"Freddie Prinze Jr. Interview," BBC Website, (March 31, 2003).

Timothy Borden