4/16/18

RIP CHUCK McCANN (1934-2018)



Chuck McCann, the heavyset, baby-faced kids-show friendly, slapstick-loving, TV commercial-regular/voice-over specialist/all around comic spirit died last week at 83. If you want to know more about this wonderfully talented man of comedy, click here. The highlights are too numerous to mention and that's not the way I want to take up time and space today.

Instead, I want to share a personal reminiscence about Chuck. He and his wife Betty lived down the block from my parents in the Hollywood Hills, in a round house that I always thought (and believe I was correct in thinking) he'd purchased as a kind of comment on his signature rotund appearance. As a young-un I knew him slightly--enough to say hello while walking past his house while on my way to the school bus stop. But over the years the McCann's and my parents got to know each other better and I was pleased to be part of that new friendship. Once, in my teen years, my parents gave a party and one of the guests got lost on the road heading up to our house. (The neighborhood is steep and windy with poorly laid out street signs). Since this was the 1970s there was only one way for our guest to contact my parents for directions. Yes, he had to knock on a neighbors door and ask to use the phone. It turns out he knocked on the McCann's door and Chuck invited him in to call for help. Even with the directions clearly explained by my father (or I think they were anyway--a good deal of drinking generally went on at these little dinner parties), our guest was still nervous about getting to our house. Since I'd recently acquired my drivers license, I eagerly volunteered to head down the hill to pick him up. I arrived at the McCann's, entered the house and who should I see dining with Chuck and Betty than--get this--Arthur Godfrey. He must have been eighty years old and was bemused to see that a teenager actually recognized him and wanted to engage with him, however briefly. (Have I told you before that I was a strange young man?) As I recall, our guest was equally amazed at the presence of the legendary broadcaster and Godfrey dutifully shook hands, signed a napkin etc. I wonder where that napkin went.

More on Chuck tomorrow. Enjoy one of his Laurel and Hardy commercials above--he adored the duo and did much to help keep their spirit alive. In fact, my other favorite memory of Chuck has to do with L&H. That will have to wait till tomorrow...

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