Hank Simms, extraordinary announcer, dies

An end titles from the first season of The FBI

An end titles from the first season of The FBI

Hank Simms, an announcer best known for the words “a Quinn Martin production!”, died last month at the age of 90, according to THIS OBITUARY But he did lots of other announcing work, including movie trailers and the Oscars television broadcast.

Simms first work for QM was The FBI in 1965. He went on to be the announcer for other QM hit shows including Barnaby Jones, Cannon and The Streets of San Francisco not to mention less successful series such as Dan August, Caribe and Banyon.

Simms also did “bumpers” for Mannix, as in, “Mannix…brought to you by…” followed by the name of a sponsor.

Simms worked the microphone at the Oscars, including when John Stears got his Oscar for Thunderball (explaining that Ivan Tors was picking it up in Stears’ place) and when Roger Moore and many viewers were surprised when Marlon Brando declined his Oscar for best actor.

His work could also be heard in trailers including movies edited from episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. such as TO TRAP A SPY and ONE SPY TOO MANY as well as THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT, the Doris Day spy comedy, and POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES, the final Frank Capra film.

The announcer’s voice was so distinctive when the makers of the 1982 comedy Police Squad! decided to do a QM-style opening, there was only one man for the job:

Rest in peace, Mr. Simms.

UPDATE: Here is the very first Hank Simms announcing job for Quinn Martin:

UPDATE II (Oct. 13): The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences put up an obituary for Hank Simms on its Web site on OCT. 2.

1966: Doris Day makes a spy movie

By 1966, anyone who could launch a spy project did. One of the more unusal such projects was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s The Glass Bottom Boat, a comedy starring Doris Day.

Subtle, it wasn’t. Much of the humor was slapstick and looks like a cartoon come to life. That wasn’t surprising because the film was directed by Frank Tashlin, who years earlier had directed cartoon shorts for Warner Bros. The film’s trailer (with Hank Simms, the leading announcer for titles of Quinn Martin television shows, handling those honors here) is pretty representative of the movie itself:

Doris becomes involved with Rod Taylor, playing a Tony Stark-type playboy/inventor. Foreign powers are after Taylor’s work. The cast is full of people (Arthur Godfrey, Dick Martin, Eric Fleming, John McGiver, Edward Andrews) who were mostly seen on television by this time while still popping up in the occasional film role.

It also had a very odd, Tashlin-staged cameo. MGM’s big television property at the time was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Paul Lynde, as a bumbling security officer, disguises himself as a woman and ends up. briefly encountering U.N.C.L.E.’s Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn).

Weird Man From U.N.C.L.E. cameos

In the 1960s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had one spy franchise with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. So the studio decided to use every opportunity possible for exposure, even if it meant putting it into situation comedies or comedic movies.

Take, for example, MGM’s sitcom Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. Here the young boys of the show’s featured family get an uxpected thrill:

Well, as you might imagine some misunderstandings, presumably leading to yuks occur. (We say apparently because we haven’t seen the complete episode). But by the end of the story, somebody else shows up to clear things up:

Now it’s a little unclear on what level we’re supposed to take this. In the end titles, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum are billed as their fictional characters, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. Maybe in this fictional universe, U.N.C.L.E. has a sanctioned television show (that the boys watch) a la the 1965-74 version of The FBI?

Meanwhile, MGM also produced a spy comedy with Doris Day and Rod Taylor called The Glass Bottom Boat. The film’s director, Frank Tashlin, was known for sight gags similar to the ones he used when directing Warner Bros. cartoons. Thus, we see this scene: