Freddie Stewart
Date of Birth
May 25, 1921
Birth Place:
New York City, NY


Freddie Stewart was a swing-era singer and, briefly, a B-movie leading man whose career took him from some of New York's poorest neighborhoods to the top swing band in the country and, for a time, to Hollywood. Born Morris Joseph Lazar, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he was drawn to music and performing from an early age and later started singing. As a teenager, he chose the professional name Freddie Stewart, partly in honor of his favorite screen actor, James Stewart. Singing gigs eventually got him to California, and he was good enough to attract the attention of Tommy Dorsey, then the most popular bandleader in America. Their relationship proved to be an unhappy one, however, with Dorsey reportedly trying to exert too much control over Stewart. He was finally rescued from his situation -- albeit, a well-paying one for the time -- by the movie business in 1946. Producer Sam Katzman, seeking a handsome but boyish lead for a new series of movies he was planning, signed Stewart to play the leading role in "the Teen Agers," a young troupe of performers who would be stars in a series of Henry Aldrich-type light comedy-adventure movies made at Monogram Pictures. The eight movies in the series, which have developed a cult following, proved to be the total extent of Stewart's acting career, as his youthful attributes worked against him in future projects. He returned to singing and was mostly seen on live television during the '50s when he wasn't working in clubs somewhere around the world, or running one of his own. He passed away in 2000. In 2005, author/fan Pam Munter published When Teens Were Keen, a salute to and biography of Stewart and the Teen Agers. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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