Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Sandy Becker

video
from a 2 part interview from youtube user soupman
if Sandy is Nancy's cousin I guess he qualifies, from wikipedia:
George Sandford Becker (February 19, 1922 – April 9, 1996) went professionally by Sandy Becker , was a television announcer, actor and comedian best known for having hosted several popular children's programs in New York City. The best known of these was The Sandy Becker Morning Show, which ran from 1955 to 1968 on Channel 5 WABD-TV and WNEW-TV. Becker was born and raised in New York, and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He first reached public fame on radio as the title character of Young Doctor Malone, a role he was invited to take to television but declined to pursue his own television projects. (He played the good doctor on radio for a decade, however.) Soon, he started working for Channel 5 and became the host of a program featuring Bugs Bunny cartoons, The Looney Tunes Show on weeknights from 1955 to 1958. A second Friday night program called Bugs Bunny Theater ran from 1956 to 1957. In the middle of those activities, Becker found his true calling, spun in large part off his knack for entertaining his own three children with his vocal and comic versatility. This led him to his morning show beginning in 1955, and he added a noontime program Sandy Becker's Funhouse briefly in 1955. He hosted the syndicated Wonderama from 1955-56 and again from 1957-59.
Becker's propensity for doing comic voices brought him much work in animation; his best known work there was perhaps as Mr. Wizard on King Leonardo — "Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle, drone / Time for this one to come home" — who was always indulging and then rescuing Tudor Turtle (who wore a Tudor-style hat and sword, hence the play on his name) from his outlandish wishes. On his morning and (later) afternoon children's programs, Becker created such characters as double-talking disc jockey Hambone, addled but brilliant Big Professor (who claimed to know the answer to every question in the world), rumpled Hispanic kid's show host K. Lastima, incompetent mad-scientist Dr. Gesundheit, and — showing a remarkable knack for silent comedy — simple-minded Norton Nork, whose routines of earnest bumbling were joined only by musical accompaniment and a droll Becker narration that ended, invariably, with, "That's my boy, Norton Nork — you've done it again!" Another aspect of Sandy's humor was derived from his interaction with his (often ethnically stereotyped) hand puppets, which included Marvin Mouse, Googie, the German-accented Geeba Geeba, the English Sir Clive Clyde, Wowee the Indian, the space creature Sputnik, and the Irish Danny Moran. Sandy's show was so popular in the NY area that when he began using a version of the Hambone Theme music from an old 78 RPM record by Red Saunders which was recorded in 1952, the Okeh record company re-released the song on a 45 RPM record. Enough kids bought the record that it reached Survey position #22 on local rock radio station WMCA in March 1963.
Becker also created a puppet known as Henry Headline, who delivered lighter news to the children who tuned him in every day. He was quoted in an early 1960s interview as saying it was better to introduce children to news listening on a lighter note. "The impact of a major news story might be lost to them or it might even frighten them," he told the Long Island Press. "They'll learn about wars and international crises soon enough. I try to keep the news as light as possible. Occasionally I'll use an item that has historical value." In spite of that view — or perhaps because of it — Becker is warmly remembered for the manner in which he handled one of America's deepest tragedies on the air. On November 27, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Becker went on the air and, quite movingly, attempted to explain to his young viewers what had happened. Sadly, most of Becker's programs were not preserved. Most went out live and were not kinescoped or videotaped, they live on only in the memories of those fortunate enough to have watched them. After he withdrew from on-camera hosting in 1968, Becker helped other children's shows create puppets and characters, and he became known as a mentor to new generations of children's hosts. "I never treated them as though they were in swaddling clothes," he said many years later of his young viewers. "Most kid shows regard young viewers as babies. I wanted to treat them as their parents might if they were on TV."

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