Freed began his career in vaudeville, and he appeared with the likes of the Marx Brothers. He soon began to write songs, and was eventually hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For years, he wrote lyrics for numerous films.
In 1939 he was promoted to the position of producer, and helped elevate MGM as the studio of the musical. Freed choose to surround himself with film directors such as Vincente Minnelli and Busby Berkeley. He also helped shape the careers of stars like Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.
Freed served as associate producer of The Wizard of Oz.