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Stan Freberg

California native Stan Freberg began as a voice actor in a number of old-time radio shows. During the 1950s he made a name for himself writing and performing both original songs ("Television") and parodies of popular tunes ("The Yellow Rose of Texas", "Day-O", "Heartbreak Hotel") and radio shows (John and Marsha, St. George and the Dragon-Net).

His popularity landed him his own program, The Stan Freberg Show on CBS Radio, in 1957. The show failed to attract a sponsor, however, at least in part because Freberg did not want to be associated with the tobacco companies who had sponsored Jack Benny, whose time slot he inherited. In lieu of actual advertisements, Freberg mocked commercials in general by "advertising" such products as "Puffed Grass" ("It's good for Bossie, it's good for me and you!"), "Food" ("If you haven't any teeth you can gum your food with your gum, gum, gummy-gum gum"), and himself ("Freberg - the foaming comedian! Bobba bobba bom bom bom" - a parody of a well-known Ajax Laundry Detergent commercial). The lack of sponsorship forced the cancellation of the show after a run of only fifteen episodes.

Freberg continued to skewer the advertising industry, however, producing Green Chri$tma in 1959, a scathing indictment of the overcommercialization of the holiday. Green Chri$tma$ foreshadowed 1961's Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America, Part One in that both combined dialog and song in almost musical-like style. (One can almost imagine John Hancock and Ben Franklin performing the big Broadway finish on "A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days".)

Freberg seemingly mistrusted television; in one of his best-known skits, he used a series of sound effects to simulate draining Lake Michigan, filling it with hot chocolate (complete with whipped cream), and dropping a ten-ton cherry on top courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Force (with 25,000 extras cheering them on). The tag line to the skit: "Let's see them do that on TV." Even so he produced commercials for products such as Contadina Tomato Paste ("Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?"), Geno's Pizza Rolls (friend and science fiction icon Ray Bradbury proclaimed them "the food of the future") and Sunsweet Prunes ("Today the pits, tomorrow the wrinkles"). Today, these advertisements are considered classics by many critics, and Freberg is usually credited as being the first person to successfully introduce humor into television advertising.

Freberg is still actively doing adverting and other projects today. In 1996 he released Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America, Part Two. He is most visible these days as the host of a syndicated anthology of old-time radio shows, When Radio Was.

In addition to his work in radio and advertising, Freberg has also voiced a number of animated cartoon characters over the years. He often found himself paired off with other talents such as Mel Blanc at studios like Warner Bros, where the two men performed such pairs as the Goofy Gophers, Hubie and Bertie, and Spike the Bulldog and Chester the Terrier. He has also worked with Walt Disney Studios on movies, such as Lady and the Tramp, and television projects, such as The Wuzzles.