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. "