Freedgood was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York in 1913 and began writing at a young age. In the 1940s, he had several articles and short stories published in Cosmopolitan , Collier's, Esquire and other magazines while working full time in the motion picture industry in New York City. A WWII U.S.Army veteran he held public relations and publicity posts for United Artists, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and other companies for several years before focusing on his writing.
His novel The Wall-to-Wall Trap was published under his own name in 1957. He then began using the pen name John Godey — borrowed from the name of a 19th-century women's magazine — to differentiate his crime novels from his more serious writing.
Writing as John Godey he achieved commercial success with the books A Thrill a Minute With Jack Albany, Never Put Off Till Tomorrow What You Can Kill Today, and The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, his novel about the hijacking of a New York City subway train, was a bestseller in 1973 and was made into a hit movie starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in 1974. A remake starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta was released in the summer of 2009.He saw his Jack Albany stories turned into the 1968 Walt Disney film Never a Dull Moment, starring Dick Van Dyke.