Fred Balzar was born in Virginia City, Nevada, on June 15, 1880. He was involved in mining and railroads and was Mineral County draft board chair during World War I. Balzar had a substantial officeholding record over the years. He was a sheriff, an assessor, and an assemblyman, and served terms in the state senate from two different districts—Esmeralda County and, after that county was divided, Mineral. He was Republican state chair and elected governor in 1926, serving two terms.
As governor Balzar had to cope with the onset of the Depression. On March 2, 1933, he declared a bank holiday in the state, a technique first used in Michigan that President Franklin Roosevelt also used a few days later upon taking office.
Balzar died at the governor's mansion on March 21, 1934. Work on the Boulder Dam project was halted for three minutes at 2 p.m. on March 24, the start time of his funeral in Reno.