Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bob Crane, Radio's Man of 1000 Voices, Appears on 'The Twilight Zone' / March 1961

When Bob Crane was hired at KNX-CBS Radio in September 1956, CBS expected great things from their new morning man. And Bob did not disappoint. Having honed his broadcasting craft and successfully created his own brand of comedy on the East Coast, he had quickly earned a formidable reputation and a dynamic following on the West Coast.  

CBS also realized that Bob Crane was not going to be someone who would just settle in and be content doing the same thing over and over again for the rest of his life. Bob had already expressed an interest in acting, and the last thing they wanted was to lose their star right out of the gate. Included in Bob's contract with CBS Radio was a five-year no-acting clause prohibiting him from acting professionally during the first five years of his employment at KNX. While Bob did perform in community theatre in Southern California and make a brief appearance in the pilot episode for the unaired series Picture Window, Bob refrained from acting professionally between the years 1956 and 1961.

The Twilight Zone - "Static" 
Air Date March 10, 1961
Bob Crane / Uncredited Role as Radio Announcer
Starring Dean Jagger as Ed Lindsay (shown in this clip)

The moment the clause expired, however, Bob began seeking out acting roles. By 1961, after five years of working at KNX, he had already met, interviewed, and subsequently networked with most of the Hollywood circuit - actors, directors, producers, musicians, and writers - most of whom had been guests on his radio show. Bob had strategically placed himself in the best position possible to enter the acting field.

Bob's official migration from radio to television began with The Twilight Zone in the episode "Static," which aired on March 10, 1961. Although not a credited role, it was a role in which Bob was most comfortable - a radio announcer. It was the perfect vehicle for Bob to get his feet wet in television. Plus, this role was so much more than just one radio announcer; Bob plays the announcer plus a variety of different voices emanating from the sound box. Radio's "Man of a Thousand Voices" had just landed on television.

The Twilight Zone - "Static" 
Air Date March 10, 1961
Bob Crane / Uncredited Role as Radio Announcer
Starring Dean Jagger as Ed Lindsay (shown in this clip)

After his work on The Twilight Zone, Bob accepted bit parts in other productions, including Return to Peyton Place (released in May 1961), Man Trap (released September 20, 1961), and General Electric Theater in the episode "The $200 Parlay" (aired October 15, 1961), which also guest-starred Maureen Arthur. Bob would work with Maureen Arthur again in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (released October 14, 1968). Eventually, Bob was cast as Harry Rogers in the episode "Somebody Has to Play Cleopatra" on The Dick Van Dyke Show (aired December 26, 1962), paving the way for more substantial roles. Bob was hired shortly thereafter by Donna Reed to portray neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey on The Donna Reed Show, with his first episode being "The Two Doctors Stone" (aired March 14, 1963).

Bob's versatile talents are clearly heard in these two clips from The Twilight Zone episode "Static." Listen closely. The voices you hear coming from the radio are mostly - if not all - Bob's own.

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For more about Bob Crane, visit http://www.vote4bobcrane.org

For more about Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, which was published on September 17, 2015, visit http://www.vote4bobcrane.org/book.html