Relatives of the late actor-comedian Freddie Prinze agreed to accept a partial settlement of nearly $1 million in wrongful death and malpractice suits against two doctors who were caring for the young entertainer when he shot himself.
Psychiatrist William Kroger agreed to pay Prinze's family members $750,000 and internist Edward Albon will pay $200,000.
Prinze's mother, Mary Preutzel, his wife, Kathy Cochrane, 30, and son, Freddie Jr., 5, agreed Thursday to accept the payments as partial settlement of their lawsuits charging the physicians with "carelessly and negligently" treating the television star of "Chico and the Man."
The complaint alleged Kroger should not have allowed Prinze access to a .32-caliber pistol, which he used to fatally shoot himself Jan. 28, 1977, and that Albon overprescribed the powerful tranquilizer Quaalude for Prinze.
Before shooting himself, the 22-year-old actor wrote a note that said, in effect, "I can't go on." He died the next day at UCLA Medical Center. i
Friends said he was despondent over the breakup of his marriage, misdemeanor drug charges and other personal problems.
Prinze's widow and son will receive $665,000 and his mother will get the remaining $285,000.
Albon's settlement cover the period from May 1974 to November 1975, and another lawsuit covering November 1975 until Prinze's death is still pending against a different insurance company.
Neither Albon nor Kroger was available for comment yesterday.
Suits also are unresolved against three other companies that carried more than $1 million worth of life insurance on Prinze. So far the companies have refused to pay benefits because Prinze's death was a suicide.
Renny Martin, Prinze's former secretary, said Prinze's mother was happy with the partial settlement, adding, "She's lived with the worry of whether she's going to have a settlement for many years and she's been living with the loss of Freddie for many years. The house is still full of memorabilia of him just as when he left. It's really heartbreaking. That was her only child."