Fritz Coleman in a press photo
Southern California’s beloved weathercaster grew up back East, served in the Navy, and has been a part of the longest-running evening news teams with Chuck Henry, Colleen Williams, and Fred Roggin.
Fritz Coleman eats his healthy breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank: two eggs (poached), turkey sausage, fruit, and buttered wheat toast.
Fritz in the early days
Fritz studied radio, film, and television at Salem College in West Virginia and Temple University in Philadelphia. He started his career in broadcast with the U.S. Navy (1969-72). “When you’re in the military and have a job, regardless of how bad you are, you don’t get fired. The military gave him the gift to be really bad on the radio. I got to be bad until I got good.” He was hired the day he got out of the Navy, working on the East Coast as a disc jockey, radio talk show host, and on-air personality. Fritz credits the Navy with giving him direction, discipline, and pride, calling it “the best decision of his life.”
Fritz doing the weather
In 1980, Fritz moved to Los Angeles to be a comedy writer and stand-up comedian. An NBC news director caught his act and asked him if he had any desire to do some vacation relief work for him doing the weather. He auditioned on a Tuesday, got the job on Thursday, and held onto the position for almost 40 years.
Fritz on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
Contrary to popular belief, he is not a meteorologist. Fritz is rooted in comedy, citing Bob’s Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famer Bob Hope and Johnny Carson as his heroes. He would appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson seven times (1985-89).
Fritz and Fred in a 1980’s promo video
In an NBC “Fritz” commercial (1986), Fritz, in zero seriousness about the weather, parodies the “price match guarantee” of a mattress or an electronics salesman. “You find better weather on another station, bring it to me, I’ll match it; I’m The Prince of Weather.” Another NBC commercial, Fritz and Fred “Basketball” (1984) capitalizes on their dynamic personality. “Fred is all sports. Fritz is all weather. Fred is all show. Fritz is something else.” The perfect camp-aesthetic of these promotions helped propel Fritz’s celebrity and cult following.
Fritz jokes in one of his stand-up comedy acts, “I’m bitter because I’m a weatherman. This is my 32nd year being a weatherman, in a city with no weather. I have a lot of free time. It’s been the same weather since the Paleolithic year but every day I have to show up in a nice suit and a pleasant smile and stand in front of my maps, going, as you can see here morning clouds and fog, hazy afternoon, sun, what a surprise, back to you.”
Fritz has two one-man theater acts, “The Reception” and “It’s me, Dad!” He has performed at the Falcon Theater (now the Gary Marshall Theater) across the street from Bob’s Big Boy Burbank. When backstage Fritz said he felt the presence of Gary Marshall, best known for creating Happy Days.
As the “honorary” mayor of Toluca Lake, he jokes it was years before he even got see "the lake" since it's in a private residential community not open to the general public. Actually, his only real responsibility since 1995 has been to light the Christmas tree on Riverside Drive the first Friday of every December, kicking off the holiday shopping season.
Fritz received a Humanitarian Award from the United States House of Representatives for his work with the American Red Cross. He’s been a sought after commodity as a Master of Ceremonies for many charitable events around Burbank and greater Los Angeles.
The city of L.A. named Fritz Coleman “A Treasure of Los Angeles” in 1999.
Fritz retired in late June 2020, but “The Prince of Weather” still lives in the San Fernando Valley and can be found on Facebook.
Fritz in the U.S. Navy