Toby Freedman

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Toby Freedman MD (July 2, 1924 – April 15, 2011) was an American physician, who worked with the American Manned Space Flight Program for North American Aviation, as their Corporate Medical Director, later served as a team physician for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Lakers; and finally physician for Korean Airlines, before returning and retiring from North American Rockwell in 1988. He was best friends with Tom Fears, who he met in High School football.

Early life[edit]

Freedman was born in New York City on July 2, 1924.[1] His father, David Freedman, was a comedy writer for Eddie Cantor. Cantor moved to Beverly Hills. In 1936, after David died, Beatrice Freedman, Toby's mother, moved Toby and his three siblings: Ben, Noel, and Laurie to Beverly Hills. Toby graduated from Beverly Hills High School at age 16 in 1940, and was an All Conference Football Guard. He met Tom Fears and they became lifelong friends. He received a football scholarship to the University of California-Berkeley. After three years, he transferred to Stanford University, receiving a B.A. in biology in 1945, and an M.D. degree from Stanford Medical School in 1948 with Dr. Bob Kerlan. He completed his residency in 1951 in Internal Medicine at USC Medical Center under the direction of Dr. Max Gaspar. Freedman then entered the Air Force.

Space medicine[edit]

In 1956, Freedman joined North American Aviation, later North American Rockwell, as Medical Director, reporting to Chairman Dutch Kindelberger and President Lee Atwood. In 1961, when NAA was awarded contracts for the Apollo spacecraft and S-II second stage of the Saturn V rocket, Freedman was given the added responsibility of Director or Life Sciences in Downey. As head of aviation medicine and medical research at North American Aviation, Freedman worked closely with Harrison Storms, Division President, and his staff in developing the Apollo spacecraft. He was frequently quoted in the press on medical aspects of space travel.[2] He was known for promoting the idea that people could be modified to make them better adapted to space travel.[3][4]

Sports medicine[edit]

In 1970, Freedman left North American Rockwell. From 1973 until 1985 he worked with Kerlan-Jobe Sports Medicine Group as a team physician for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Rams.[5] Freedman became good friends with Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Rams. He enjoyed a lifelong relationship with the owner and his wife, Georgia Frontiere, as a friend and personal family physician. He remained a medical consultant to the Rams and served as a member of the Rams Board of Directors until 2008. He had a close relationship with Rams Players: Merlin Olsen, James Harris, Jack Youngblood, and Dennis Harrah, and Trainers: George Menefee and Jim Anderson, and Receivers Coach Lionel Taylor.

His best friends with the Lakers were: Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Jeanie Buss, and Magic Johnson.

In 1984, Freedman was also the Team Doctor for the Olympic Tennis Venue at UCLA. Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf won the Singles there. He was an avid Tennis player and played tournaments with Dale Jensen, Emil Porro, Ray Sena, and Sonny Sanders at North American Aviation, the Riviera Country Club, and the Palm Springs Racquet Club. He played often at Carroll Rosenbloom's Tennis Court and in many charity events such as: John Tracy, Tennis and Crumpets, and the Adoption Guild. Among his good tennis friends and patients were Tony Trabert and Vic Braden.

Later life[edit]

In 1985, Freedman returned to North American Rockwell and worked there until his retirement in 1988. He then moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington. He died in Poulsbo, Washington on April 15, 2011 at age 86. He is survived by his wife, Carol, daughter, Andrea St. Clair, and sister Laurie.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Doctor backs uncloistered space pilots". Modesto Bee. June 10, 1959. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Physician Forecasts Space Age 'Optiman'". Los Angeles Times. November 14, 1962. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Man in Space". Life. October 2, 1964. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Collins to miss Rams game". Los Angeles Times. October 19, 1983. Retrieved July 16, 2011.