Saturday, June 13, 2009

A voice from the past

AMC has been running Lonesome Dove this week. Originally a four-part miniseries on CBS twenty years ago, AMC has condensed it to a two-nighter, and naturally the promos during the commercial break encourage viewers to "come back tomorrow night for the conclusion of..."

Anderson's Ghoulardi character hosted late night sci-fi and horror films on local Cleveland TV in the 60'sThat "conclusion" line triggered the old memory marbles and I flashed to the old ABC voiceover voice. Lines like "stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of [insert movie of the week/miniseries here]" started running through my head. I can hear that voice describing programs like Winds of War, War & Remembrance, Lace, and the Swayze classic North and South. Also the announcer for ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos and the preview commercials for the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation, that voice always described the ABC movie of the week (usually "The ABC Sunday Night Movie").

Since the early to mid 1980's was an age when cable actually wasn't in every home (and for the homes that had it, there were, at best, around only 30 cable channels), the ABC Sunday Night Movie was always a contender for the points/share. And you can bet that if it was a Bond movie, as it was often the case, I was on the floor right in front of the tube, letting that deep, steady & enthusiastic voice prepare me for the evening's entertainment. So whose voice was that? It was as much of a staple in our lives as that "movie trailer guy" or that PA voice at Disney World (both of whom, by the way, probably also deserve their just attention from the Briefcase).

It was the voice of the late Ernie Anderson. A veteran radio and television personality since WWII, Anderson was also once a comedy partner with the great Tim Conway. His body of work prompted Fred Silverman to make him the official voice of the America Brodcasting Company in the 1970's, a position he held until his death in 1997. His voice can still be hired by radio and television outlets today, as his family has a library of over 500 lines available for broadcast use. Also of note - Anderson had four children, one of whom is none other than director Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood). Who knew?

Below is one of Anderson's many clips available on YouTube to take you back. Remember that old intro animation? Awesome.

And getting slight off-topic, but after showing that great 80's TV lead-in, we can't help but put this one up from Home Box Office (that's "HBO" to anyone under 30):