Fred is a fourteen inch
high, milk-white male cockatoo with blue eyes.
He is the pet of Tony Baretta, an ex-merchant
marine turned undercover police detective, who
lives in a rundown apartment at the King
Edward's Hotel in an unnamed city. Fred has
many talents. He can lie on his back and sip
booze from a bottle, and answer the telephone
when it rings and say "Hello." Each time
Baretta entered his apartment, Fred squawked
"Freeze!" On trips outside the apartment, Fred
perched on Baretta's shoulder as he walked
down the street or drove in the car. To reward
Fred, Baretta fed him sunflower seeds.
Detective Baretta (Robert Blake) with his pet
(Photo courtesy of ABC
TRIVIA NOTE: Fred
the bird appeared on the detective drama
BARETTA/ABC/1975-78. In real life, Fred was
actually called Lala (or Lalah). He got his
name because he liked to repeat the phrase
"La-la-la-la-la." Owned by animal trainer Ray
Berwick, Lala was born in Hong Kong and found
smuggled into America with a cage of chickens.
He originally spoke only Chinese, but
Berwick's bird was a quick study and soon
learned English and a number of clever tricks
like pedaling a bicycle, imitating the sound
of a dog and cat, riding a scooter, running on
a treadmill and saying "I love you." For the
series, Lala had a bird stunt double named
Weird Harold used for flying sequences (Harold
died from liver illness after the first
season) and two other birds called Sweetheart.
Lala won a PATSY award in 1976 and again in
1977 and Photoplay magazine awarded him
with a Gold Medal for being their favorite
animal star. As of the 1980s, Ray Berwick
featured Lala in an animal show at the
Universal Studio's Tour in southern California
and at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Producer's for the program initially wanted to
use a Raven or myna bird, but Lala's outgoing
personality and large vocabulary got him the
part. Now deceased, Lala lived to be about
seventy years old.