That Should Hold the Little Bastards
by John Delach
Part Five: Early TV – Gaffs: The Road to Ruin
The title of this piece originated in a well-known, often told story of how to destroy a broadcasting career. Granted it supposedly happened on radio instead of television, but it was too good not to include. “Uncle” Don Carney had a half-hour kids’ radio show that aired on WOR radio from 1928 to 1947. As the story goes, one day after concluding his daily broadcast, Uncle Don uttered those words as he passed a hot mic: “There! That ought to hold the little bastards.”
Just one problem, dear readers: It never happened. Still, a great line like that will live on despite being but an urban legend and I’ll bet some of you actually believe that you heard it.
Herbert Jon Antoine Jr. better known as Tex Antoine’s faux pas was all too real. Tex began his weather career 1n 1949 for WNBT, a predecessor of WNBC in New York City. He worked with a cartoon sidekick he created known as “Uncle Wethbee. His nightly weather report, “…was a wonderful mix of weather, cartoon art and storytelling. He would start his weather segment standing next to an easel covered by blank pages, and he would proceed to draw the weather systems that were pertinent to the nation and the area. As his hands drew in the lows, highs and fronts, his voice would narrate their past and expected movements, and what their effects would be.”
Rumor had it that Antoine enjoyed imbibing John barleycorn which may have helped his demise?
Antoine left WNBC in 1966 for WABC-TV. On the newscast of November 26, 1976. His weather report followed a story about the attempted rape of an eight-year-old girl. Antoine quipped: “With rape so predominate in the news lately, it is well to remember the words of Confucius: ‘If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.”
Say goodbye Tex – “GOODBYE TEX!”
Dick Schaap wore many hats while covering sports that included a stint as a local sportscaster on WNBC in the 1970s. Schaap was on duty during Secretariats triple crown run and victories during the 1973 racing season. After “Big Red” as the stallion was affectionally known won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, he was put out to stud and never raced again.
So loved by the public, Big Red’s celebrity status continued unabated. Sports writers filed stories from the stud farm on his progress. Unfortunately, the horse’s early attempts were less than expected and the papers were full of oddly written stories about Big Red and his mate, Riva Ridge. One night, Schaap had had enough so he noted during his broadcast that “Secretariat and Riva Ridge had become the most famous stable mates since Mary and Joseph.
The phone lines at NBC lit up after Schaap’s remark aired, but, fortunately, people still had a sense of humor in 1973 and cooler heads prevailed.
For the record, the few times that I watched his incarnation hosting The Tonight Show, each time I walked away with the feeling that there was something really off about that dude.
On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar walked off the show in a huff that bordered on being hysterical confirming my belief that he wasn’t quite all there.
The flash point was a lengthy “shaggy dog” story he told the previous night that the NBC censors removed from the broadcast as being too risqué. A long joke made short; an English woman wishes to buy a house in Switzerland. She asks a local chap where the W.C. is located.
Failure to communicate leads the Swiss fellow to believe WC means a wedding chapel instead of a water closet (bathroom.)
The joke finishes with this Swiss person explaining that his daughter will be married there, inviting his British associate to attend her wedding and noting: “I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you if you wish, where you will be seen by all. Hoping to have been service to you, I remain, Sincerely, The Schoolmaster.”
A silly joke intercepted by stupid censors!
“Paar was really pissed off’ recalls hie then-sidekick, Hugh Downs. ‘He called a press conference the next day and announced he was going to do something really horrendous that night.’ Before the taping, Downs cornered Paar in his dressing room. ‘He was pacing back and forth, and finally said, ‘I’m leaving the show, Hugh.’ I assumed he’d tape the show and make a dramatic announcement at the end.”
“Paar had built his reputation on an ‘I-could-blow-at-any-moment’ emotionalism, and that night, he blew. After a three-minute skewing of NBC over the censorship, Paar, in tears, said, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to make a living,’ and walked off the stage.”
On March, 7th 1960, Paar returned to the show. He opened his remarks with, “As I was saying when I was interrupted…when I walked off, I said that there must be a better way to make a living than this. Well, I’ve looked and there isn’t.”
Paar left the show two-years later to be replaced by the best Tonight host of all time, Johnny Carson. Since then, all has been happy in TV land except for David Copperfield, Bill Cosby, Jamie Foxx, James Franco, R. Kelly, Matt Lauer, Les Moonves and Charlie Rose and Kevin Spacey, etc. etc. etc…’When will they ever learn…”