06/19/2007 12:00AM

TOC co-founder Friendly dies


Ed Friendly, a prominent California horse owner and breeder and co-founder of the first statewide organization to represent owners separately from trainers, died on Sunday at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., after a yearlong battle against cancer, according to members of his family. Friendly was 85.

Known throughout the television and movie industries for his long and successful career as a producer, Friendly gained prominence in the California horse racing scene in the early 1990s for his ardent campaign to involve horse owners in Thoroughbred industry issues. His passion for the cause resulted in a somewhat acrimonious split between horse owners and trainers in California into two separate organizations in 1993.

Though the establishment of the Thoroughbred Owners of California would be his most prominent legacy in the racing business, Friendly and his wife, Natalie, who married in 1952, also kept approximately 60 horses in training throughout the 1980s and 90s, racing almost entirely in California. (Natalie Friendly died in 2002.) Perhaps their best horse was Vivid Angel, who in 1997 won the Grade 2 Del Mar Debutante and Grade 1 Oak Leaf at Santa Anita.

Friendly bought his first horse in 1970, in partnership with a close friend, the actor Lorne Greene. According to his family, Friendly had a lifelong interest in horses, stemming from participation in rodeos as a boy while spending summers in Idaho.

The establishment of the owners' group was a landmark in the racing industry because it gave a voice to owners. Friendly was the president of the organization from its establishment until 1996, and then was chairman the following year.

Since its founding, the TOC has become a powerful organization that represents 9,000 California owners. It is a prominent lobbyist in the state and represents owners' interests in regulatory matters and on state and national issues.

Friendly was also one of the founding directors of the National Thoroughbred Association, an owner-led organization that meant to establish a league office for Thoroughbred racing. That organization was credited with helping establish the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the sport's existing national marketing organization.

A native of New York, Friendly moved to California in 1967 and quickly formed his own production company, Ed Friendly Productions. His credits included the award-winning series "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" and "Little House on the Prairie."

Friendly is survived by his second wife, Paula Reddish Zinnemann; a daughter, Brooke; a son, Edwin S. "Trip" Friendly III; and three grandchildren.