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Chico and the Man
September 13, 1974 – July 21, 1978
(88) half hour episodes (4 seasons)
in color on NBC
Executive Producer: James Komack
Produced by: The Komack Company Inc. and Wolper Productions
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“Chico and the Man”
Composed & Performed by: José Feliciano
Chico, don’t be discouraged,
The Man he ain’t so hard to understand.
Chico, if you try now,
I know that you can lend a helping hand.
Because there’s good in everyone
And a new day has begun
You can see the morning sun if you try.
And I know, things will be better
Oh yes they will for Chico and the Man
Yes they will for Chico and the Man.s
The basic story unfolds as Ed Brown (Jack Albertson) an old school, hard-core WASP and garage owner in East L.A. has Chico (Freddie Prinze) a young down on his luck yet optimistic young Chicano come to work for him. Despite their vast differences the two form a bond and come to respect one another. The shows humor arises from the situations caused by old Ed Brown’s attempts to deal with life in his neighborhood which is now 90% Hispanic.
Executive Producer James Komak originally conceived of this concept after watching several of Cheech and Chong’s stand up routines. After he unsuccessfully tried to hire them to star in the show he saw Freddie Prinze on Johnny Carson and arranged for him to audition for the lead role.
Ratings were good and the show had three successful seasons until Prinze who had fought depression and drug abuse for years, committed suicide. Komak worked around Prinze’s death covering his absence by Ed Brown announcing that Chico had gone to Mexico to visit his family. It wasn’t until the fourth and last season that Brown admits that Chico isn’t coming back that he’s dead.
Ratings kept slipping after Prinze’s departure and the show was canceled after the fourth season.
Video Clip of Chico and the Man
Jack Albertson died in 1981 of colorectal cancer, he was 74
Scatman Crothers passed away in 1986 of lung cancer, he was 76
Freddie Prinze took his own life in 1977 he was only 22
It seems that 1970s sitcoms produced a lot of popular slang and “Chico” was no different. “That’s not my job” was a favorite catchphrase of Chico’s to get out of work. Fearing, however, that it tended to typify Hispanics as not wanting to work, the phrase was changed to “Looking good” which seemed to be ok with all audiences.
José Feliciano was asked to write a theme song for the show. He was concerned that the producers would reject his song, so he wrote two. The producers bought both of them and used one at the beginning and the other at the end.