Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Shows With a Gallop

It really was superfluous. Eventually, the TV networks figured it out.

In those great days of network radio, Andre Baruch would shout “Your Hit Parade!” Ken Carpenter did the same with “The Kraft Music Hall!” After all, on radio, you needed someone to introduce the programme.

On television, that was completely unnecessary. A title card could do the same thing. And you didn’t have to pay it every week or worry about it going on strike.

So what happened to the announcers? Frank Gallop answered that question. Gallop had been one of the big guns freelancing in New York. Here’s what he had to say in a story published November 12, 1957. There were still a few of them around on some TV shows, a leftover habit on series dominated by writers, performers and producers who had worked in radio.
Gallop Enjoys Role Of Being Mystery Man

United Press Writer
NEW YORK—The eyes have it since the advent of TV, but that doesn't mean the ears have had it.
So believes Frank Gallop, an announcer whose mellow tones have been caressing the nation's tympani for more than 20 years. Gallop, an alumnus of such radio shows as Milton Berle's, Gangbusters and the New York Philharmonic, currently works for television's Perry Como.
Gallop owns the mystery voice that booms out during the gag station breaks on the NBC-TV Como Show.
"Everybody keeps asking what's happened to the old-time announcer," said Gallop. "Well, the answer is nothing has happened to him. He's still with us on TV. The picture hasn't killed him at all. In fact, he's making more money than ever."
Work Is Harder
However, Gallop confesses TV has made work harder for the announcer. "You can take the Stella Dallas show I used to do on radio as an example," he said. "I'd walk into the studio 20 minutes before airtime, look ever my copy and that was it.
"On a television show like the Como hour, we work far harder. Unbelievably harder. There have been times when we've worked far into the night just blocking out camera moves."
Many of the new announcers spawned by TV are curly-haired, dimpled and darling, but Gallop points out that good looks alone won't sell a sponsor's product.
Belief Untrue
"One of the biggest fallacies about the television announcing business is the belief that we just walk out there, pick up a piece of paper and start reading and that's all there is to it," said Gallop.
"How untrue that belief is. You'll find that every successful announcer is the product of long years of work. A voice that has authority and ease is not something you can develop overnight.
"I can name you two handfuls of old-time announcers who are still working hard—fellows like Ben Grauer, Hugh James, Ed Herlihy, Don Wilson. I could tick off dozens more. They're working and will continue to work because they've labored long and hard to develop a flow that sounds effortless.
"That's why all the dimples and wavy hair in the world don't mean a thing if those looks aren't backed up with experience. That's why even 'Ghoul' Gallop goes on and on."
Ex-Bond Salesman
Gallop, a former bond salesman from Boston who got into the radio business in 1934, is rarely seen on camera on the Como Show. Strangely enough, he likes it that way.
"I have been seen on camera a couple of times, but frankly, I'd rather be kept way off in that unseen limbo or whatever you want to call it. There's a certain value to being a mystery person," he said.
"In fact, I think in this day of TV, it puts me in a kind of unique position—it's probably more valuable to be a mystery man on TV then it ever was on radio. I would be quite happy if the Como Show never showed my face again."
Ah, but Gallop did show his face again. The Como people took a page out of the Ed Wynn-Graham McNamee book. They made Gallop more than an announcer, he became part of the show.

The New York Daily News profiled his work with the Singing Barber in its Sunday feature second, November 4, 1962.
Frank Gallop doesn't say much, but his few words get lots of laughs and a nice income.
Perry Como's toughest job each week is trying to keep a straight face when his dandified announcer Frank Gallop gallops onto the set and says one word: "Rea-l-l-y!" Last year, Frank worked a little harder to break up the relaxed singer. He used three words: "Oh, come now!"
Frank's talent for putting Perry in stitches goes back to the time he started on the singer's popular nbc-tv show eight years ago. Somehow, Gallop's precise diction coupled with his penchant for sartorial splendor was enough to send Perry into a laughter spasm.
The natty spieler considers his job on the show as pure fun. "It's great to work for a guy like Perry," says Frank. "He's just as nice as everyone says he is. Perry's also just as relaxed as publicized. I remember a show four years ago when Perry had a group of Hollywood stars on as guests. They were all jittery before the program began, and one glamor gal asked Perry: 'Aren't you nervous?' Perry just chuckled: 'What's the use of being nervous? We'll be on the air in 20 seconds!'"
Ever since he first appeared on the Como show, Frank's been mistaken for an Englishman. He invariably wears a British bowler, and his speech seems to have been nurtured in the British Isles.
The announcer finds the whole concept "amusing." He says: "I was coming home last spring from Jamaica and was sitting next to an Englishman on the plane. We chatted a bit, and suddenly he blurted out: 'Are you English? No, I told him, I was born in the United States.
"We talked a bit more, and then he asked: 'Are you absolutely sure you're not English?"
Frank insists he was born and reared in Boston, and that his apprenticeship in a Beantown investment establishment accounts for his marked accent.
"But it's not an English accent," he says. "If you put me in London tomorrow, you'd know darn well I'm American. I'd be mistaken for an Englishman only as long as I kept my mouth closed."
The announcer confesses that he has worked diligently over the years to make his voice more commercial "I've eliminated certain inflections," he says. "If you had heard me 25 years ago, you might well wonder today how I stayed in this business."
But stay he has, and Frank's voice is one of the most easily identified on television. He rates David Ross, Ben Grauer, William B. Williams and Red Barber as being the top announcers in their fields.
"Ross voice is the greatest that radio and tv have ever known," says Frank. "It's rich and warm and has a fine tonal quality.
"Grauer boasts the most versatile voice in the industry. He can do anything from a symphony broadcast to a wrestling match.
"Williams' pleasing voice is just perfect for his job as disk jockey. He has style and manner, and uses an intelligent approach to his work.
"Barber's voice is one of authority. You accept and respect this man from the moment you tune in a sports broadcast."
In the 27 years that he has lent his mellifluous tones to radio and tv, Frank has performed such chores as announcing for the New York Philharmonic concerts, hosting the "Lights Out" and "Kraft Mystery Theatre" programs, and spieling the commercials on the Milton Berle telecasts.
During his show business career, Frank's paid close attention to his wearing apparel. As a result, he has gained the reputation of being one of tv's better dressed gentlemen.
"On the Como show," Frank says, "it's an important part of my character to dress meticulously. Off the air, I'm also very clothes-conscious. I have about two dozen suits, and they're all custom-tailored. I favor grays. I'm partial to cuff links and double-breasted vests, but I despise tie bars. I prefer to wear my cravats long and tuck them into the top of my trousers. I really don't follow current styles. I like to think I dress smartly conservative single-breasted, two-button suits. I rarely wear a hat, except for the bowler you see on the show. You say President Kennedy doesn't care too much for hats, either? Well, if I had his hair, I wouldn't even wear the bowler!"
Frank's quite content with his present television duties, and has only one ambition. "I'd love to have a show of my own," he laughs, "with Perry Como on every now and then as guest singer!"
In the 1960s, a few other long-time New York freelance announcers like Tony Marvin and Wesbrook Van Voorhis were finishing out their careers reading newscasts (about all that was left of regular network programming). Gallop scored a surprise hit by speak-singing a parody of “Big Bad John” called “The Ballad of Irving” in 1966 on the Kapp label. But by then, most newspaper stories where he is mentioned involve looking back on the old radio days. Gallop retired to Florida where he died in 1988 at the age of 87.

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