Fred Norris

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Fred Norris
Born Fred Leo Nukis
(1955-07-09) July 9, 1955 (age 58)
Willimantic, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Radio personality
Years active 1979–present
Website
www.howardstern.com
www.kingnorris.com

Eric Fred Norris (born Fred Leo Nukis; July 9, 1955) is an American radio personality known for being the longest-tenured staff member of The Howard Stern Show aside from Stern himself. He first met Stern while working at WCCC-FM, a radio station in Hartford, Connecticut.

Early life[edit]

Born in Willimantic, Connecticut, Norris is the son of Valija and Henry Nukis who were Latvian immigrants.[1] Fred was raised in Manchester, Connecticut. By the time Fred, the second of two sons, was born, his parents' marriage was already on the ropes. His biological father left home when Fred was five, but those first few years were turbulent. "There was always tension and rage," Norris remembers. "My father had an alcohol problem. When Dad came home, you hid in the closet because there was always something going on you'd rather not be a part of." Fred spent most of his early childhood alone. When his older brother, Robert, wasn't using Fred as a human punching bag, the brother wanted nothing to do with him. So Fred would escape by reading books, taking long bicycle rides, or watching lots of afternoon TV reruns (whence came his encyclopedic knowledge of trashy fifties TV). "I'd like to state for the record that every person on this show of Howard's, even Robin, at least had a father figure to guide them," he says. "Me, I was on my own." [2]

Despite the lack of guidance, Fred managed to navigate his adolescence without major incident. When Fred was 13 his mother married his stepdad, Lewis Norris, a cabinetmaker, whom Fred credits with finally making his mom happy. Around this time he began playing guitar. He also began hanging out with a "better class of people." Namely people who could afford instruments-a step up from his neighbors, who, he says, could have stepped right out of Deliverance.[2]

Career[edit]

A college student at the time, Norris first met Howard Stern while working the overnight shifts at WCCC, an AM and FM radio station in Hartford, Connecticut in the spring of 1979.[3] When Stern later worked mornings at WWDC DC101 in Washington, D.C. in 1982, he brought Norris over to help write comedy bits for the show.

A regular bit on the show is "Win Fred's Money" where Fred and another contestant answer rapid-fire trivia questions. Fred usually wins these contests handily. However, his primary role on the show is playing sound clips that comically coincide with the current discussion, writing song parodies and skits and contributing jokes during the course of the show, painting the show with soundbites and timing commercial breaks.

Notable radio show moments[edit]

In January 2006, Norris revealed on Stern's Sirius Satellite Radio show that he has a half-sister during a bit where cast members revealed secrets about themselves (his father had an illegitimate child with Norris's godmother). He has stated that he doesn't want to meet this person due to his strong grudge against his father as well as his godmother. Fred also revealed that his godmother gave him the middle name "Leo", which is why he changed his name. Norris has served as a writer on the Stern Show for many years and has helped write most of the show's bits. Particularly memorable events specifically involving Norris include:

  • Norris drunkenly cuddling with show intern Gay Rich at Scores for his bachelor party, then falling down stairs and landing on his head - requiring a trip to the emergency room.
  • The on-air discussion of a fight between Norris and his wife at NBC's Rainbow Room which led to Fred quitting the show, only to come back the next day.
  • Norris frequently denies model Carol Alt a "supermodel" status, vigorously asserting that she has never attained that rare professional level. He also questions her status as a legitimate actress as she has not had a starring role in any Hollywood productions.

Norris, to his chagrin, is often mocked by Stern during the show for what he perceives as Norris' oddness, remarking that Norris is "from Mars" or noting that he fits the profile of a serial killer because he keeps a shovel in the trunk of his car.

Norris was also regularly mocked on the Stern show roasts for his oddness and on-air silence. Jackie Martling referred to him as an alien and Colin Quinn told Gary Dell'Abate that he was "uglier than Fred's thoughts" also stating that he looked like "a retarded Gary Oldman."

When Norris announced on the show in May 2002 that his wife Allison had become pregnant by means other than sexual intercourse, fellow Stern staffer Robin Quivers stated that she knew if Fred was going to have a child it would "have to be a science project." After a pause, Norris called Robin a "fat, malicious cow." A few months after this incident, possibly as a fence-mending gesture, Robin financed Fred's birthday celebration.

Personal life[edit]

In 1995, Norris married Allison Furman, a woman he originally met on the "Dial-A-Date" segment of Stern's radio show. The couple has one daughter together, Tess.[4]

Name change[edit]

In 1993, Norris legally changed his name from Fred Leo Nukis to Eric Fred Norris.[1] As is typical of Fred and his oft-mocked personality, he never discussed or even mentioned this fairly major event until a Stern Show staffer happened to notice Norris's new name signed in a log kept to comply with the FCC. Regardless, the cast has still referred to him mostly as Fred.

On The Howard Stern Show on May 23, 1996, Stern and cast had an extended discussion with Norris about the name change. Norris did not reveal the motivation for the change. Although he did not like the name Fred, he kept it because "Fred Norris" was the name the public knew him by. Norris said the process was simple, that his accountant referred him to a lawyer who "filled out a bunch of papers" that were filed in court. Stern commented that he knew Norris's original last name (Nukis), and that it was a horrible last name; however, out of respect for Norris's privacy Stern did not tell listeners what the name was.

Ten years later the subject came up again. On November 13, 2006, Norris was asked about his motivation in 1993 for a legal name change. Fred revealed that the last name Norris is that of his kindly stepfather. Nukis was his biological father's name. With the name change from Fred Leo Nukis to Eric Fred Norris, he intended to remove from his life any association with his biological father. Fred further claimed that his mother wanted to name him Eric at birth, but that his natural father (Nukis) had not allowed it because "Eric" was the name of his mother's former boyfriend. Norris's middle name Leo was selected by his godmother - the same woman who eventually eloped with his natural father. For these reasons Fred says he hates both the names Fred and Leo - although everyone including Norris's wife, Allison, calls him Fred.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Smoking Gun: Stern
  2. ^ a b http://www.animaux.net/stern/fred.html
  3. ^ Stern, Howard; Larry "Ratso" Sloman (1993-10-15). "Mein Kampf -'My Struggle'". In Judith Regan. Private Parts (1st edition ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-671-88016-3. OCLC 28968496. "But there was one good thing about Hartford. I met Fred "Earth Dog" Norris there. Fred was going to college and he was the overnight guy. He was a funny guy and a good writer and he had a knack for doing impressions." 
  4. ^ Howard Stern.com

External links[edit]