The world is a little less funny today. Stan Freberg died Tuesday at the age of 88. It is almost impossible to put into the words the profound effect he had on the world of media.
Freberg was known as a recording artist, animation voice actor, comedian, radio personality, puppeteer, author and arguable, one of the greatest advertising minds of all time.
Freberg was hired by Warner Brothers in 1944. In his autobiography It Only Hurts When I Laugh, he wrote about getting on a bus and asking the driver to let him off in Hollywood. There he found a sign advertising a talent agency, walked in and promptly started working for Warner Brother cartoons after an audition.
Later, Freberg started to release comedy albums on Capitol records. In one bit, Freberg spoofed Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” — having the echo effect go wacky, leading Elvis to eventually rip his jeans during the performance.
Following the success of his albums, Freberg landed his own radio show. Known for his biting satire and parody, Freberg was also know for standing up for his principles, refusing to accept alcohol and tobacco companies as sponsors, which killed his radio career after he took over for Jack Benny on CBS Radio.
Doing movies, radio and cartoons would be enough for any person, but his role in reshaping advertising revolutionized the industry. Freberg brought satire to advertising agencies, introducing humor to previously dull and unimaginative commercials. Freberg ended up winning 21 Clio Awards for his work.
One of his classic moments involved proving radio was a better than television to advertise on by masterfully using sound effects to create the illusion of draining Lake Michigan and refilling it with hot chocolate, a mountain of whipped cream and dropping a giant maraschino cherry like a bomb by the Royal Canadian Air Force to the cheers of 25,000 extras viewing from the shoreline.
Check out some of Freberg's most memorable work: