Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stan Freberg and the Moral Premise

While preparing for my involvement with the 2014 Biola Media Conference I discovered they were going to give the BIOLA Media Lifetime Achievement Award to satirist STAN FREBERG ("The United States of America Parts 1 & 2," "GreenChristmas," "St. George and the Dragonet," "John and Marsha," et al). I thought the man had died some years back, and so had others. It seems there was a typo in the news accounts when his long time wife and producer, Donna Freberg passed away. Well, he's still kicking at about 86. In 2001 he remarried, one of his fans, Betty Hunter, who produced with Stan a typically hilarious album of satire titled: "Songs in the Key of Freberg: Songs about Life." Stan's accomplishments came from his life motto: "Ars Gratia Pecuniae," Latin words meaning "Art for money's sake." He's the winner of 21 Clios for his advertising campaigns, multiple Emmy's for a show starring sock puppets (Time for Beany) that attracted Albert Einstein as a loyal fan.  And he still refuses to be sponsored by alcohol or tobacco products, a principle that cost him the follow up to the Jack Benny show years ago. 

Here was my introduction and my quick remembrances of how he changed my life:
Ladies and Gentlemen. In the next few minutes you're in for a treat. You're going to meet one of the great icons of entertainment history.  
I remember when I first heard this man's voice. It changed my life. It was July 4, 1965, 10:35 at night. I was just out of high school - on my way to pack Sealtest ice cream into delivery trucks. Over the radio came the voice of Thomas Jefferson. He was trying to persuade Benjamin Franklin to sign a petition he had begun to pass around the neighborhood. "Just a harmless piece of paper," he said. Franklin was hesitant and suspicious. After all, looking over the document all of Tom's "S's" looked like "F's." Finally after a musical interlude, and after Tom promises it won't start a revolution. Franklin signs.
It was a record track on a vinyl LP on this man's presentation of the United States of America, Part 1. I would wear out the grooves on the record I bought, and wait 35 years with thousands of other fans for Part 2...fortunately, this time on CD.  (both albums won Grammys)
This is the man who, before computer graphics were invented and to the astonishment of audiences listening to pay radio (you had to go into your record store and buy one) -- drained Lake Michigan, filled it with Hot Chocolate, bulldozed in a mountain of whip cream, then arranged for the Royal Canadian Air Force to drop a ten-ton maraschino cherry into the mess, accompanied by the cheering of 25,000 extras.  
He's the man who convinced King Ferdinand of Spain, under doctor's orders, to go with Christopher Columbus - to Florida for the Winter.  
This is the man who can play the flight of the bumble-bee - on his lips.
This is the man who counted Lionel Barrymore and Albert Einstein as loyal fans of the world's first televised show featuring -- sock puppets.  
And here to introduce this, ah...original wizard of Oz, is another fan, our host, your friend, Jack Hafer. 
Stan Freberg's Wikipedia Article:

Here's a great bio about Stan written a few years ago from the AP: http://freberg.us/apwire.html

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