Art Gilmore: Versatile announcer

Art Gilmore appearing on-camera in Dragnet

Another in an occasional series about unsung figures in television.

Trivia question: Name somebody who has ties to the very first James Bond production (1954’s CBS production of Casino Royale), Highway Patrol, Quinn Martin TV shows (the first one, The New Breed), Fred Astaire (a late 1950s TV special), Red Skelton, The Wild Wild West and Hawaii Five-O.

That person would be announcer Art Gilmore (1912-2010).

Gilmore began his announcing career in the 1930s and moved into television and movie trailers. Here’s an excerpt from the Los Angeles Time obituary for Gilmore.

“He was one of an elite corps of radio and television announcers, a voice that everyone in America recognized because it was ubiquitous,” film critic and show business historian Leonard Maltin told The Times this week.

“For at least 20 years, if you listened to radio, watched TV or went to the movies, you couldn’t help but hear Art Gilmore’s voice,” said Maltin. “It wasn’t especially deep like some announcers, but it had authority, command and yet also a kind of friendliness. I think it was an all-American voice.”

Gilmore’s voice was the first viewers heard on the 1954 CBS live telecast of Casino Royale. “Live from Television City in Hollywood!”

The early years of television were heavily influenced by radio. On radio, an announcer introduced a show and often acted as a narrator.

Gilmore did a lot of work at CBS, including being the long-time announcer for Red Skelton’s variety show. His voice could often be heard on promos.

A YouTuber recreated a second-season promo for The Wild Wild West, which featured Gilmore’s voice and music by Richard Shores. Most of the visuals are based on the originals with a few tweaks.


In 1968, CBS televised a program-length promotion for its upcoming season. Here’s the segment for the upcoming Hawaii Five-O where Gilmore’s voice features prominently.

Finally, here’s a brief YouTube tribute to Gilmore, focusing on his work on Highway Patrol and Dragnet.

John Stephenson, original Dr. Quest, dies

John Stephenson

John Stephenson

John Stephenson, a veteran character actor and the original voice of Dr. Benton Quest, has died at 91, according to BLOGGER MARK EVANIER, who frequently writes about television and comics.

Stephenson was part of a Jonny Quest cast that also included the voices of Tim Matheson, Danny Bravo and Mike Road. After the first several episodes, Don Messick took over as Dr. Quest’s voice but Stephenson continued to do a lot of voice work for Hanna-Barbera.

Stephenson also served as the announcer who informed the audience of the outcome of a case in the 1960s version of Dragnet. He also was a frustrated Thrush official in New York forced to take orders from Cesar Romero’s Victor Gervais in The Never-Never Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., one of the most popular installments of that spy series.

Stan Freberg, brilliant satirist, dies

A Stan Freberg album

A Stan Freberg album

Stan Freberg, who wrote and performed satire of the first order for decades, died today at age 88, according to obituaries published by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, USA TODAY and DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD, among other news sites.

Freberg was in demand to do humorous commercials, to voice cartoons and in general to make people laugh. He also has a connection to the 1960s spy craze, although few people will remember for it. Truth be told, Freberg might have preferred to forget it himself.

Freberg was a guest star in The Carpathian Caper Affair of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. To read a detailed review, CLICK HERE. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps producer Douglas Benton thought he scored a coup when he signed the great satirist Stan Freburg as a guest star. True, Freburg as Herbert Fummer comes across as amusing and sympathetic. But Benton might have been better off hiring Freberg to write an episode instead. Had that occurred, we would have been spared this insipid mess.

Freberg’s legacy is vast and his U.N.C.L.E. appearance is, at most, a footnote. Here’s an excerpt from from The Hollywood Reporter obit.

The godfather of humorous and irreverent commercials, Freberg lampooned cultural institutions and described himself as a “guerilla satirist.” The New York Times dubbed him the “Che Guevara of advertising,” and years later, “Weird Al” Yankovic called him a major influence on his career.

“Very sad to say that one of my absolute all-time heroes has just passed away,” Yankovic wrote on Twitter. “RIP Stan Freberg. A legend, an inspiration, and a friend.”

Here is just one parody that Freberg wrote in the 1950s, doing a takeoff of Dragnet. Daws Butler, who would later do voices on Hanna-Barbera cartoons, provides many of the voices here:

UPDATE (10:05 p.m.): To read a tribute to Freberg by Mark Evanier, a television and comic book writer who was a friend of Freberg’s, CLICK HERE.