Tuesday, June 17

Tan His Hide

Can you put up with one more Roger Grimsby story? This one is folklore, and I can't vouch for it personally. It happened long before my time at WABC. I'm not even sure who told me; maybe newswriter Sandy Lechner, who I remember as being something of a Grimsby archivist.

Roger, as I've written, was famous for his acerbic put-downs. He's the guy who, one night when Howard Cosell had the night off, said, "Howard isn't here, he's walking his pet rat."

On another night (as the story goes), WABC had a new guy on sports, a tryout of sorts. Cosell and his backup were both off, and WABC had about a week's notice to come up with a fill-in. They arranged (I'm told) for a well-known ABC Radio sportscaster to air sports that night. If I ever heard his name, I don't remember it. It's not important. Let's call him "Joe Blow."

Joe was a popular radio sportscaster, no longer young. When he was a kid he had flaming red hair. Now he still had flaming red hair, know-what-I-mean, know-what-I-mean, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say-no-more!

Joe went to a friend who knew something about TV and expressed his concern that he might look a little . . . well . . . uh . . . old on TV. Did the friend have any advice?

"Yeah, get a tan. Look at Bill Beutel. He's always got a terrific tan. It takes ten years off you just like that!"

"Yeah, but how am I going to get a tan in less than a week?"

And his friend told him about makeup--theatrical makeup--pancake makeup--and what shade (dark!) to wear to have a perfect tan.

And that's how we got to this "Roger Grimsby Moment:"

"Time now for sports. Joe Blow is sitting in for Howard Cosell. Don't adjust your set. Joe Blow is ORANGE!"

And that, as they say, let the air out of the tires.

As I said, I wasn't there. I wasn't an "eyewitness" (forgive the pun). But it sure sounds like Roger Grimsby, so I'm going to move it from the Legend pile to the Fact pile unless someone tells me differently.
6/19 Update:

Got a nice note from Al Primo (yes, the Al Primo) confirming the substance of the story--so it stays in the "Factual" pile.

He also gave me the name of the sportscaster involved. It's a name I know and a voice I've heard: you too, probably. But I'm not going to reveal it here. Seems to me once you've been hip-checked into the boards by Roger Grimsby, no further humiliation is warranted.