Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bob Crane and United Cerebral Palsy

Bob Crane with his wife Patty; their son, Scott:
and Eliot Dober, Connecticut State
Director for United Cerebral Palsy.
United Cerebral Palsy Telethon - 1976
Photo courtesy of Eliot Dober.
Bob Crane spent a great deal of his personal time volunteering for various charities, and not the least of which was for United Cerebral Palsy. He had close ties to the organization; a dear friend, Eliot Dober, from Bridgeport, CT, who Bob had met while working at WLIZ/WICC in the 1950s, suffered from cerebral palsy. 

Eliot and his family had owned a portion of WLIZ radio when Bob began working at the station in April 1951. (On November 17, 1951, WLIZ purchased WICC, and Bob's morning show then moved over to WICC.) At that time, Eliot was 15 years of age, and according to Eliot, "I was in and out then, hanging around. And was a real pest!" Eliot remembered Bob being very patient with him during that time, and even gave Eliot the opportunity to go on the air with him. They remained friends after Bob left Bridgeport and moved to Los Angeles in 1956, and Eliot took several trips out to the West Coast to visit him.

Throughout his life, Eliot was a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities. In 1977, he was appointed by the governor of Connecticut to the position of Executive Director of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for the State of Connecticut, and he served in this role until 1994. Further, he also acted as the Connecticut State Director for United Cerebral Palsy.

As State Director for United Cerebral Palsy, Eliot asked Bob if he could host the local Connecticut edition of the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon, and Bob always agreed. Generally, a celebrity would be paid handsomely to host a telethon nationally - around $20,000 in the 1970s. Bob turned down the national offers (and the big bucks), and instead, flew back east to Connecticut to do the local edition, accepting only $2,000. Bob hosted the United Cerebral Palsy telethons locally in Connecticut for three years: 1976 through 1978.

Eliot passed away on July 30, 2010, at 74 years of age. Before his passing, he remembered Bob this way: "I will be honest with you, he got along with everybody very well. And everybody liked Bob. I want people to remember the good things about Bob. He gave of himself, and he was a good person. A positive person. He wasn’t a bad guy - Bob was just Bob. And nobody is all good or all bad."