Saturday, November 29, 2003

Happy Birthday, Harry!

I just wanted to take a brief moment and wish a happy 90th birthday to one of the best radio actors to ever stand before a microphone: Harry Bartell. A true veteran of the trenches, he appeared in such prestigious shows as Gunsmoke, Dragnet, and Escape—among many, many others—but is probably best known to OTR fans as the announcer on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on Mutual from 1945-47, touting the benefits of Petri Wines, the show's sponsor at that time.

I haven't seen him around lately, but he has been known to make an appearance or two on #oldradio chat on mIRC Thursday nights. He's a great guy to chat with; I remember a conversation I had with him one night bemoaning the fact that the old-time radio era has passed and that we would never see anything remotely like it again. He told me that he had once paid a visit to his local public radio station and had offered them his services by reading short stories over the radio on a frequent basis--the kicker was that he wanted no remuneration whatsoever; all he asked for was the opportunity to "perform" in a small, intimate purview like public radio.

But they told him, "Well, we couldn't possibly make room for something like that with our format." And that is indeed a damn shame. Perhaps if he had come in with a major underwriter like a member of the petroleum industry they could have found the space.

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