|Born||Fred Leo Nukis
July 9, 1955
Eric Fred Norris (born Fred Leo Nukis; July 9, 1955) is an American radio personality and the longest-tenured staff member of The Howard Stern Show, aside from Stern himself. He first met Howard Stern while working at WCCC-FM, a radio station in Hartford, Connecticut.
Fred Norris is the son of Valija and Henry Nukis who were Latvian immigrants. Fred was raised in Manchester, Connecticut. By the time Fred, the second of two sons, was born, his parents' marriage was already troubled. 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 classic 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."
Despite the lack of guidance, Norris managed to navigate his adolescence without major incident. When Norris was 13 his mother married his stepfather, Lewis Norris, a cabinetmaker, whom Norris credits with finally making his mother happy and unlike his own father his stepfather generally treated Norris with respect. Around this time he began playing guitar.
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. He continued at WCCC after Stern's departure, though left the station in early 1981 to take a job at WAQY-FM in Springfield, Massachusetts.
When Stern became a ratings hit at WWDC in Washington, D.C. that year, he was able to use his success as leverage to convince the station to hire Norris, who started as the producer on Stern's show in October 1981. He later moved with Stern to New York to work at WNBC in September 1982, and has been with the show ever since.
Fred has also appeared in several small television and movie roles. He played a younger version of himself in Private Parts in 1997. He played a meter maid in Cruel Intentions in 1999. Most recently, he portrayed a pawn shop owner named Leon, on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2013.
In 1994, 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.
In 1993, Norris legally changed his name from Fred Leo Nukis to Eric Fred Norris. On the May 23, 1996 episode of The Howard Stern Show, Stern and the cast had an extended discussion with Norris about this. 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. On the November 13, 2006 episode, Norris was again asked about his motivation for the change. Norris revealed he changed his surname to that of his kindly stepfather, in order to remove from his life any association with his biological father. Norris further explained that his mother wanted to name him Eric at birth, but that his biological father 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 Norris says he hates both the names Fred and Leo, although those closest to him call him Fred.