Wednesday, July 25

Hank the Deuce

In broadcast news we don't have egos. It's just that we're absolutely convinced we're smarter, wittier, more poised, more savvy, more hip, more "with-it", brighter, more quick-witted, better informed, skillful, current, progressive, au courant, perceptive, well-versed, brainier, discerning, sagacious, resourceful, nimble, slick, observant, sensitive, perspicacious, cultivated, cagey, discerning, astute, spirited and intelligent than the mouth-breathing knuckle-dragging philistines we're forced to serve.

And the only people, in my (ahem) humble opinion who might be quicker are on the studio crew.

Those guys (and gals) are fast—and brutal.

This one goes back to the late seventies, to Detroit, to WDIV-TV, and it involves Henry Ford II, head of the Ford Motor Company founded by his grandfather Henry and later run by his father, Edsel.

I'm in the control room. Suddenly, breaking news! The bulletin arrives on the set and is handed to the anchor just as word is relayed to me in the control room. The anchor (identity hidden to protect the guilty) looks up, and says…"This just in to News Four Detroit…Henry Ford the Two has suffered a heart attack!"

And instantly, after less than a heartbeat, the audio man turns to me and says, "You know, he was in the Navy in World War Second."


Wish I could remember his name. He was good!

By the way, "Hank the Deuce" was pretty quick on his feet as well. He was arrested late one night (or was it early one morning?) for drunk driving with a woman—not his wife—in the car. He spent several hours in jail. When he was released, a small army of reporters and photographers was waiting for him. For Henry Ford, no bodyguards—no limo waiting to rush him to his mansion—no army of publicists. He walked straight down the jailhouse steps, right up to the microphones, held up a hand to signal for quiet, and said, "Boys, boys (in those days the Detroit press corps was 99% male), you know my motto: 'Never Complain, Never Explain.'" And while the Detroit media laughed, he got into his car and drove off.

Was Hank the Deuce the first to utter the "Never Complain" line? There are lots of other nominees. I prefer to think of it as his, though: it fit his lifestyle. By the way, the woman in the car? She later became the latest (and I think the last) "Mrs. Henry Ford II."