TV, radio lose two famous personalities

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
Goodbye “Miss Brahms” and goodbye Paul Harvey.
These two well-known personalities with diverse careers are no longer with us.
Before I tell you about the death this week of Paul Harvey, let me expound on Wendy Richards. She was the young sales lady who appeared on the British TV show “Are You Being Served.” The hit comedy ran from 1972 through 1985. Reruns of the show are seen each Saturday at 9 p.m. on local Public Broadcast Stations channels 23 and 42.
Other living members of the cast include Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock), Mollie Sugden (Mrs Slocombe), Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold), Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas) and Mike Berry (Mr. Spooner). All the other main characters have also passed away.
You must really appreciate British comedy to enjoy a show like this. There is something about British wit that sets its comedies apart from American comedy. I have always admired British comedy and mystery writers. AYBS writers Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft and Michael Knowles had very creative minds and knew how to “match the story with the character.” It is no wonder their writings are held in such high regard the world over.
So, when you tune in this Saturday night you will continue to hear Captain Peacock saying “Miss Brahms…Are You Free? But, you will know the 65-year-old “young lady” is now free from the pain and suffering of a lingering ten year disease.
Mrs. Slocombe, no matter what color her hair is this week will still be telling Miss Brahms “love life” stories as they share the sales counter together in the fictional “Grace Brothers” department store.
And now, “the rest of the story.”
Those were the words made famous by Paul Harvey on his daily radio and television news broadcasts.
He captured my interest when I listened to him on the radio as a 14-year-old and 15-year- old. His deep, resonant voice was a symbol of the way radio announcers and news casters sounded back in those days. Unlike many contemporary radio personalities who have a “throaty” voice delivery, he was a master on a microphone producing an authorative tone that captured your attention when you heard him.
Well-known syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote “the 90-year-old newsman was the last of a generation of radio voices who pre-dated the influence and power of television and held people captive with a deep commanding voice and homespun stories and twists on the news.”
He was, indeed, the last of those great radio newsmen. This includes broadcasters like H.V. Kaltenborn, Edward Murrow, Drew Pearson, Lowell Thomas, Eric Sevareid, Charles Karalt, Morton Dean and the ever so popular Bill Henry who aired the Johns Manville’s nightly newscasts in the 1940s.
Harvey probably sold more American products through his effective advertisements than any other broadcaster. His many sponsors always demanded that he, personally, read the ads. His sincere and authorative style was all the sponsors wanted to hear.
Based out of Chicago, his broadcasts were seen and heard for 50 years. Most of those years were with ABC (American Broadcasting Company). “Paul Harvey Drive,” a Chicago street named in his honor, will now become a destination for his many fans the world over.
His broadcast closing words, which are all so familiar…” and now you know the rest of the story…Good day America.”
I compare Harvey somewhat to Alabama’s own Douglas Edwards. The popular CBS News anchor, who began his radio career at Troy when he was only 15, became the first anchorman whose nightly newscasts were seen from coast to coast. It was in September 1951 that “Douglas Edwards With The News” made that famous CBS newscast.
Most of the older generation of Troy can tell you about him and his entire family. His pictures can still be seen on the walls at the Troy radio station.
Edwards was a fond admirer of Johnny Mack Brown, the Dothan native and former Crimson Tide Rose Bowl football hero who garnered outstanding success as a cowboy movie hero.
Edwards will also be remembered as one of America’s great broadcasters.
Now, speaking of news, I am sure most of you read Adam’s piece last week on The Advance’s plans to ‘step up our news and begin writing it like it is.” This new format will propel our growing readership not only locally, but on the Internet as well
In my column I drop anywhere from 10 to as many as 25 names each week of people you know or you remembered from days gone by. My emails and phone calls bear this out.
By the way, I know Bill and Ann Staff are thrilled about their son’s making the national news this weekend. I am sure you read of the record catch on “Little Bill’s” deep sea charter boat.
A Texas fishing customer aboard Staff’s “Sea Spray” vessel was the lucky angler. He, along with the entire boat crew, landed a giant short- fin marko shark in the Gulf waters off the Louisiana coast. The big shark weighed in at 1,149.5 pounds.
Wow, Hollywood could use this monster and make another “Jaws” movie.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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