Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bob Crane: 'The Story of My Life'

By Carol Ford

While listening to some of Bob Crane's KNX airchecks recently, I revisited one from February 24, 1960. This particular recording was from a new evening KNX radio show featuring Bob Crane. It was produced in the same format as his morning program, with Bob interviewing celebrity guests, playing music, drumming along with that music, and incorporating his humor into commercials with wild antics, voices, and sound effects. With the success and popularity of Bob Crane's morning show, KNX had decided to try its luck at an evening program as well. 

In 1960, Bob was performing his daily program over KNX from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. The evening program added one more piece to his already hectic schedule, which included his breaking into acting. He had already added appearances in movies and on television to his growing resume, and The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Donna Reed Show were on the horizon.

Right at the beginning of this recording. Bob starts off by introducing the new evening version of the program and then explains a bit about relocating to California from the East Coast and settling in Tarzana, California, with his first wife and son Bobby. Then, a few seconds later, he says, "I'm going to tell you the story of my life."

As I have been writing Bob's biography and researching for longer than I can recall, when I first heard those words emanating from my computer speakers, naturally, I was a bit excited. Was Bob going to start talking about some of his life history? Would I have quotes right from the horse's mouth, so to speak, that I could include in his biography to help tell his life story?

The answer was, unfortunately, no. No sooner does he make that comment, and Bob begins to joke around. In traditional Bob Crane style, before you even realize what is happening, he had suddenly moved on to something else.

The other day, as I was writing and digging back into my files, checking and rechecking facts and quotes, trying my very best to make this as completely accurate as humanly possible, I remembered Bob saying how he was going to tell his life story in this aircheck. I thought of how wonderful it could have been to have even just a few hours to talk with Bob one-to-one, giving him a chance to say as much as he could say during the time allotted. It was at that point when I realized, no matter how accurate I am, no matter how perfect my research or how skilled my writing, despite that my colleagues and I will publish this book to the best of our ability, it will never, ever be as good as if Bob himself had written it. It is a subtle realization often overlooked during the course of researching and writing a biographical, and thus, historical work. It is a powerful realization none-the-less.

June 29, 2013, will mark the 35th anniversary of Bob's death. Perhaps this will be the year he receives proper recognition into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Hopefully, the same will soon be true of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And with luck and a lot of hard work, next year at this time, we will be holding Bob's new, published biography in our hands. 

But that Bob is not here to write his own autobiography, to tell us his life story in his own words and as he remembered it, is yet another loss for us. He would have had so much to say.