Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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George Ansbro, 1915-2011

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, News — Charlie Summers @ 7:09 pm
Rosemary Rice, Louise Erickson, and George Ansbro take direction; from the 21st Annual FOTR Convention in 1996

Jay Hickerson brings us the unhappy news that George Ansbro, radio and television announcer, author, and great friend to the Friends of Old-Time Radio has died. George is probably best-known in OTR circles as the announcer for Young Widder Brown, but he also announced shows like Treasury Salute, Wake Up, America, and FBI Washington. He also announced for ABC television, most notably Dr. I.Q., and at his retirement he achieved the record for the longest-tenured employee of any network in the history of American broadcasting. He was also a great friend to the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, appearing every year his health permitted. Even while physically frail, his voice contained an amazing youthful quality, and he was a favorite of all the directors for announcing duties.

Permit me two personal memories about a man I was pleased to call my friend.

Back in 1999, I was honored to receive the Allen Rockford Award from the Friends of Old-Time Radio for my service to the hobby. It was unexpected yet deeply appreciated, and after the evening performances a few of us (my wife, Max, Ann-Marie, Steve, others) clambered onto bar stools and celebrated my initiation into the “club.” George was, that year, without his wife who routinely attended the convention with him, and so entered the bar to wind down from the evening’s performances…we immediately invited him to join us, and for hours he regaled us with the stories fresh-in-his-mind that would be in his soon-to-be-released book, I Have a Lady in the Balcony: Memoirs of a Broadcaster in Radio and Television. We closed the bar that night, and while the following year I purchased and had him inscribe a copy, it’s the personal telling of those stories I will always remember.

In 1998, Elliot Reid, George Ansboro, and Mason Adams prepare for the thrilling adventures of Superman!

The year before, George was selected to perform the title role in The Adventures of Superman adventure, “Superman vs. the Atom Man,” to be performed in 15-minute segments throughout the convention with the original Atom Man, Mason Adams. The final episode of this storyline is a titanic battle over the streets of Metropolis, with Superman fighting for his very life. The story winds out with the narrator, the great Jackson Beck, detailing the action while the sound effects men provide the sound patterns to allow the listener to “see” the action.

There’s very little dialog here for the principles, but there is a good bit of “grunting” as the effort of the battle takes its toll on both hero and villain. After the rehearsal proper, Mason and George remained seated on the stage…I had taken some photos of the rehearsal, and was off in my corner packing up the camera equipment and preparing to videotape the performance, silently observing out of the corner of my eye while Mason Adams and George Ansbro, working in concert and carefully marking their scripts, rehearsed and fine-tuned the grunts, groans, and family-friendly expletives they would be giving during the performance.

Two thoughts struck me. First, it was really silly to see two grown men grunting at each other, occasionally saying, “No, that won’t work, let me try, ‘Ooof!’” and the like. The second thought came immediately on the heels of the first…these two professionals were working overtime to make absolutely certain their performance would be the best possible, for the fans seated out in the audience. The extraordinary care they took with something as silly as their grunts and groans would always for me define “Professional,” and any time in my own career I feel myself doing less than the best I possibly can for my client, I remember George and Mason so determined to improve their performance they ignored the silliness, and am determined to do no less.

One more little thing; a recording George made for me one year during the cocktail hour, to say hello to the folks on the Internet OTR Digest. Thank you George, and rest well.

icon for podpress  George Ansbro Says Hello to OTR Digest Subscribers [0:12m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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