Reaction to a TV legend

Often, when I can’t read, write, or watch TV because of eye surgery recovery or headaches, I find I’m able to relax by listening to old radio shows. I’m thankful for all the internet archives that make this possible. I also like to listen to interviews of actors from that era. My poem today is inspired by one of those interviews. I only list the subject’s name in the tags so you can get to know this man as I did: little by little.

Archived: A Legend

A character on a radio show
triggers my nostalgic brain
Where do I know that voice?
I sift through clues that lead me to
an interview of an old man
telling his story

Scottish born
Canadian raised
American by trade

A sick child
listened to Benny and Cantor on the radio
practiced voices, wrote skits
to take his mother’s mind off
her sick child

Brought coffee to the man he wanted to be
every day until he ran out of money
but when the man realized the coffee boy didn’t work for him
he hired him on the spot

Wrote skits for a radio show
received as brilliant
but the actors complained
we can’t do all these crazy voices
“I’ll do it,” said the boy
soon the show was named after him
because all the good names were taken

A bombed guest spot in America
with jokes he didn’t understand
somehow led to a whirlwind of American engagements
radio spots, another regular show, and movies
the show won Emmys the first year
praise the second year
and head scratches the third
they were running out of ideas

One of his movies had lions
so he thought “There’s an idea for my next show”
bring on the animals
rehearsal with camel, bulldog, panther, and tiger went well
but they didn’t account for a live audience
ended up with a stage full of camel dung and a very unhappy boom man
who had his job taken by a panther and a tiger clamped to his butt

When the work seemed to dry up
he decided to head across the pond
home for good, or so he thought,
until someone told him George Burns was looking for him
so he went to see a man about a horse
only this horse could talk
and became his friend
and put him into the homes of Americans coast to coast

Later, he put his voice to work
tapping into the talents he forged
as a little boy in his sick bed
a farming smurf and a scrooge of a duck
highlighting his range from New England grumpy to Scottish aristocracy
making himself known to a whole new generation of children

As the interview comes to an end, I find myself
amazed at the life of a man who just wanted to work
wondering how I never knew
that Mr. Ed’s Wilber was Disney’s Scrooge McDuck
and thankful to the people who thought
preserving his story was important

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