Comedian Freddie Prinze experienced a meteoric rise before the star of hit sitcom “Chico and the Man” died in 1977 death at age 22.
George Lopez is and was a big fan of Prinze, which he discussed during a virtual visit to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Thursday.
“You know, it was the only time in my life that I saw somebody for the first time, I think I saw him on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson and I fell in love immediately with him,” said Lopez.
When he learned of Prinze’s death, Lopez — then a teenager — was “in shock,” admitting he felt “traumatized” by the loss but wasn’t really able to share it with anyone who would understand the connection he’d formed to someone that he’d never met.
“It affected me emotionally, so I would go to Forest Lawn and I would visit his crypt, and I would kind of just go there, you know, some weird dude just going to see some crypt,” Lopez said of his visits to Prinze’s grave.
“I’d take flowers, I’d talk to him, and one time I was leaning into the headstone, and the headstone, I noticed that it was a little bit loose,” he continued.
“I would just jar it back and forth, and then I’d look around. Man, I snapped that thing off, so now I have this Freddie Prinze headstone,” added Lopez.
“I put it in the back of my pants, I try to walk out of Forest Lawn with it,” he said, revealing he was able to sneak it out of the cemetery and bring it home. He then hid the headstone under his mattress, in hopes that he’d absorb some of Prinze’s “comedic timing.”
“I stole his headstone,” Lopez confirmed. “I don’t think anything of it and I go to the store, the supermarket, and I look down and The Globe has a picture of his mom and it says, ‘Grave robbers are trying to steal my son.’”
Twenty-five years later, he found out that Prinze’s widow knew he had the headstone, and was fine with it. Lopez eventually made up for his theft when he was instrumental in getting Prinze a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame back in 2004.