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Dave Garroway

Dave Garroway

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David Cunningham "Dave" Garroway (July 13, 1913 – July 21, 1982) was the founding host of NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's Today from 1952 to 1961. His easygoing, relaxed, and relaxing style belied a battle with depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

 that may have contributed to the end of his days as a leading television personality—and, eventually, his life. He was honored for his contributions to radio and television with a star for each on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...

 as well as the St. Louis Walk of Fame
St. Louis Walk of Fame
The St. Louis Walk of Fame honors well-known people from St. Louis, Missouri, who made contributions to culture of the United States. All inductees were either born in the Greater St. Louis area or spent their formative or creative years there...


Early life

Born in Schenectady
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Garroway was 14 and had moved with his family 13 times before settling in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, where he attended University City High School
University City High School
University City High School can refer to:*University City High School *University City High School *University City High School...

 and Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university located in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, and named for George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all fifty U.S. states and more than 110 nations...

, from which he earned a degree in abnormal psychology. Before going into broadcasting, Garroway worked as a Harvard University lab assistant, selling books, and as a piston ring salesman. After not being able to successfully sell either, Garroway decided to try his hand in radio.

He began his broadcasting career modestly, starting as an NBC page
NBC page
An NBC page is a person usually in his or her early twenties working in various departments of the NBC television network during a one-year period as a training ground for careers in television broadcasting and entertainment...

 in 1938, and then graduated from NBC's school for announcers, 23rd in a class of 24. Even so, he landed a job at influential Pittsburgh radio station KDKA
KDKA is a radio station licensed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Created by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation on November 2, 1920, it is one of the world's first modern radio stations , a distinction that has also been challenged by other stations, although it has claimed to be the first in...

 in 1939. He roamed the region, filing a number of memorable reports from a hot-air balloon, from a U.S. Navy submarine
Submarines in the United States Navy
There are two major types of submarines in the United States Navy: ballistic missile submarines and attack submarines. In the U.S. Navy, all combatant submarines are nuclear-powered. Ballistic subs have a single, strategic mission: carrying nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missiles...

 in the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, and from deep inside a coal mine. Those early reports earned Garroway a reputation for finding a good story, even if it took him to unusual places. The "Roving Announcer", as he was known, worked his way up to become the station's special events director, in addition to his on-air work. After two years with KDKA, Garroway left for Chicago.


When the United States entered World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1941, Garroway enlisted in the U.S. Navy, but one trip out to Honolulu convinced the young man that perhaps he was a little better suited for radio instead. The Navy agreed to let him run a yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

's school instead, and on his off-hours he hosted a radio show, on which he played jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 records and reminisced about the old days back in Chicago. After the war, he returned to the Windy City as a disc jockey at WMAQ (AM). On the air, he retained the persona he crafted in Honolulu to great success in a series of radio programs: The 11:60 Club, The Dave Garroway Show, and Reserved for Garroway. One oddity Garroway introduced on his radio shows was having the studio audience respond to a song number not by applauding but by snapping their fingers. He also organized a series of jazz concerts in Chicago and created a "Jazz Circuit" of local clubs in 1947 which brought back interest in this form of music. His fellow disk jockeys voted him the nation's best in the 1948 and 1949 Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 polls. He won the award again in 1951.

Garroway was the first "communicator" on NBC Radio's Monitor
Monitor (NBC Radio)
NBC Monitor was an American weekend radio program broadcast from June 12, 1955, until January 26, 1975. Airing live and nationwide on the NBC Radio Network, it originally aired beginning Saturday morning at 8am and continuing through the weekend until 12 midnight on Sunday...

 when the program began on June 12, 1955. He continued as the Sunday evening host of the news/music program from 1955 to 1961. Garroway worked on the air at WCBS radio in 1964 and briefly hosted the afternoon drive shift at KFI in Los Angeles in late 1970 and early 1971.


Garroway was introduced to the national television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 audience when he hosted the experimental musical variety show Garroway at Large
Garroway at Large
Garroway at Large was an experimental musical variety show program with the host Dave Garroway in the Golden Age of Television. It was telecast at 10pm on Saturday on NBC from April 1949 to 1954. Garroway at Large aired with a full symphony orchestra conducted by Alfredo Antonini...

, telecast live from Chicago. It was carried by NBC from June 18, 1949, to June 24, 1951.

His shows reflected his relaxed, informal style. In 1960, New York Times reviewer Richard F. Shepard wrote, "He does not crash into the home with the false jollity and thunderous witticisms of a backslapper. He is pleasant, serious, scholarly looking and not obtrusively convivial." Garroway was known for his signoff, saying "Peace" with an upraised palm.

Along with Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Morton Godfrey was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead...

, Arlene Francis
Arlene Francis
Arlene Francis was an American actress, radio talk show host, and game show panelist...

, and Jack Paar
Jack Paar
Jack Harold Paar was an author, American radio and television comedian and talk show host, best known for his stint as host of The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962...

, Garroway was one of the pioneers of television talk. Television commentator Steven D. Stark traces the origins of the style to Chicago. Garroway, Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel
Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for The Good War, and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.-Early...

, and Hugh Downs
Hugh Downs
Hugh Malcolm Downs is a long time American broadcaster, television host, news anchor, TV producer, author, game show host, and music composer; and is perhaps best known for his role as co-host the NBC News program Today from 1962 to 1971, host of the Concentration game show from 1958 to 1969, and...

 all hosted relaxed, garrulous, extemporaneous shows in that city in the early 1950s. Earlier radio and television voices spoke with an authoritative "announcer's" intonation, resembling public oration, often dropping about a musical fifth on the last word of a sentence. Garroway was one of the broadcasters who introduced conversational style and tone to television, beginning some broadcasts as though the viewer were sitting in the studio with him, as in this November 20, 1957, introduction for the Today show: "And how are you about the world today? Let's see what kind of shape it's in; there is a glimmer of hope."
Legendary pioneering NBC president Sylvester "Pat" Weaver picked Garroway to host his new morning news-and-entertainment experiment, the Today show, in 1951. Garroway soon was joined by news editor Jim Fleming and announcer Jack Lescoulie
Jack Lescoulie
Jack Lescoulie was a radio and television announcer and host, notably on NBC's Today during the 1950s and 1960s. His parents were both in vaudeville along with their children; Lescoulie's first public performance was at age seven. His first media job was with KGFJ, Los Angeles, when he was still...

 as television's first loose "family" of the airwaves when the show debuted on Monday, January 14, 1952. Though initially panned by critics, Garroway's style attracted a large audience that enjoyed his easygoing presence early in the morning. His familiar "cohost," a chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

 with the puckish name of J. Fred Muggs
J. Fred Muggs
J. Fred Muggs is a chimpanzee that was the mascot for NBC's Today Show from 1953 to 1957.The show debuted in 1952, with amiable host Dave Garroway. The show was in trouble initially; the addition of J. Fred Muggs boosted ratings and helped win advertisers...

, didn't hurt his genial manner, but his concurrent seriousness in dealing with news stories and ability to clearly explain abstract concepts earned him the nickname "The Communicator" and eventually won praise from critics and viewers alike.

At the same time he did Today, Garroway also hosted a Friday night variety series, The Dave Garroway Show, from October 2, 1953, to June 25, 1954, and on October 16, 1955, he began hosting NBC's Sunday afternoon live documentary Wide Wide World
Wide Wide World
Wide Wide World was a 90-minute documentary series telecast live on NBC on Sunday afternoons at 4pm Eastern. Conceived by network head Pat Weaver and hosted by Dave Garroway, Wide Wide World was introduced on the Producers' Showcase series on June 27, 1955...

, continuing with that series until June 8, 1958. Another Friday evening variety show, Dave's Place, was on the air in 1960. He also hosted a radio show, Dial Dave Garroway, that went on the air as soon as Today wrapped up each morning. Dial Dave Garroway began in 1946 when Garroway was still working for WMAQ in Chicago.

Garroway had a vast curiosity that led Today wherever his ideas took it: to Paris in 1959 and Rome in 1960, to car shows and technology expos, to plays and movies, and even on board an Air Force B-52 for a practice bombing run—in short, everywhere in the world then accessible to television. When the show couldn't go outside to the world, the world was brought into the studio, evidenced by the parade of politicians, writers, artists, scientists, economists, musicians, and many others who visited Garroway and company in the RCA Exhibition Hall, Todays then home on West 49th Street in Manhattan.

In late 1960, Garroway hosted a special filmed program for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is an organization started by Billy Graham in 1950. The main focus of the BGEA is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible...

 that traced Billy Graham
Billy Graham
William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian evangelist. As of April 25, 2010, when he met with Barack Obama, Graham has spent personal time with twelve United States Presidents dating back to Harry S. Truman, and is number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for...

's crusades from 1949 to 1960. The program was included in a special DVD released by the BGEA late in 2010.

But Garroway's easygoing camera presence masked a man fighting inner demons from several angles. Disagreements with staff members became more frequent, and some days Garroway would disappear in the middle of the show, leaving Lescoulie to finish the live program. Far worse, however, was the April 28, 1961 drug-related death of his second wife, Pamela, plunging Garroway further into depression and mental instability. In late May 1961, Garroway resigned, announcing his intention to leave Today-either at the end of October when his contract was finished or sooner, if possible; he wanted to spend more time with his children. On June 16, 1961, television's "Communicator" said goodbye to the morning show he helped pioneer.

After leaving Today, Garroway returned to television on National Educational Television
National Educational Television
National Educational Television was an American non-commercial educational public television network in the United States from May 16, 1954 to October 4, 1970...

 (the forerunner of PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

) with a science series called Exploring the Universe in late 1962. Later he went back to working in radio, doing "split shift" shows called Garroway AM (mid mornings) and Garroway PM (mid afternoons) for WCBS (AM)
WCBS , often referred to as "WCBS Newsradio 880" , is a radio station in New York City. Owned by CBS Radio, the station broadcasts on a clear channel and is the flagship station of the CBS Radio Network...

, New York. Garroway also started a magazine, National FM-Radio; the venture was a costly failure with Garroway realizing he was not cut out to be a businessman. While he was in the publishing business, Garroway began reading various law books in an effort to try to understand what his lawyer was saying. His attorney told him that he had done enough legal reading to pass the New York State bar exam. On a bet, Garroway sat for and passed the written exam.

In July 1969, Garroway launched a daytime talk show on WNAC-TV
WHDH, digital channel 42 , is an NBC-affiliated television station in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the largest NBC station not owned by the network. Owned by Sunbeam Television, WHDH is a sister station to CW affiliate WLVI...

, Tempo Boston, which he hoped would be picked up for national syndication. The program lasted into early 1970 and never aired outside Boston. The show had promise but was canceled when management decided to show old movies instead of local live shows. After leaving the Boston airwaves, Garroway traveled to southern California, hosting a music-and-talk show on KFI
KFI is an AM radio station in Los Angeles, California. It received its license to operate on March 31, 1922 and began operating on April 16, 1922 as one of the United States' first high-powered, "clear-channel" stations...

 radio in Los Angeles. He planned to reenter the television world with a CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 summer replacement show, Newcomers, but the show never made it past the summer of 1971. While in Los Angeles, Garroway began to take acting workshops; he had a role in an episode of the western series Alias Smith and Jones
Alias Smith and Jones
Alias Smith and Jones is an American Western series that originally aired on ABC from 1971 to 1973. It stars Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, a pair of Western cousin outlaws trying to reform...

 as a judge in 1972.

Garroway appeared sporadically on other television programs without achieving anywhere near the success and recognition levels he enjoyed on Today. The most viewers saw of him for the rest of the 1960s and 1970s was whenever he reemerged for Today anniversaries. His final such appearance was on the 30th anniversary show, on January 14, 1982.

He was very interested in astronomy, and during a tour of Russian telescopes he met his third wife, astronomer Sarah Lee Lippincott
Sarah Lee Lippincott
Sarah Lee Lippincott also known as Sarah Lee Lippincott Zimmerman is an American astronomer. She is Professor Emerita of Astronomy at Swarthmore College and Director Emerita of the college's Sproul Observatory....

. In his final years, he attended astronomy symposia at Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college in the United States with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. The college is located in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia....

 and spent time at Sproul Observatory
Sproul Observatory
Sproul Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Swarthmore College. It is located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, United States, and is named after William Cameron Sproul, the 27th Governor of Pennsylvania, who graduated from Swarthmore in 1891.-Tours:An open house is offered...


One of Garroway's many interests was fine vintage automobiles. He expertly restored them as a hobby; one of his favorites was a 1938 Jaguar SS100, which Garroway also raced in his spare time.

Other media

In his role as Today host, Garroway acted as pitchman for several of the show's sponsors. Among them were Admiral television sets, Alcoa
Alcoa Inc. is the world's third largest producer of aluminum, behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal. From its operational headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alcoa conducts operations in 31 countries...

 and Sergeant's dog food. Most of the appearances were in the form of print ads in newspapers and magazines. By 1960, there was also a board game called "Dave Garroway's Today Game".

Garroway, an amateur drummer and inveterate music lover, lent his name to a series of recordings of jazz, classical, and pop music released in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Among them were Wide, Wide World of Jazz, 1957's Some of My Favorites and 1958's Dave Garroway's Orchestra: An Adventure in Hi-Fi Music. In a lighter vein, Garroway narrated a compilation of romantic songs performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra
Boston Pops Orchestra
The Boston Pops Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts, that specializes in playing light classical and popular music....

, Getting Friendly with Music, in 1956.

Garroway also served as narrator for special albums, including 1964's The Great Campaigners, 1928–1960 and 1960's Names From the Wars.

In 1960, Garroway penned Fun on Wheels, an activity book for children on road trips. The book was revised and reissued in 1962 and 1964.

Toward the end of his life, Garroway planned to write an autobiography. The book never made it past the research stage; the surviving notes, manuscripts, audio tapes, and news clippings were sent to former Today researcher Lee Lawrence. Upon Lawrence's death in 2003, the boxes were turned over to the Library of American Broadcasting, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, where they resided as of 2009.


After having undergone heart surgery, Garroway was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Swarthmore
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Swarthmore is a borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. Swarthmore was originally named Westdale in honor of noted painter Benjamin West, who was one of the early residents of the town. The name was changed to Swarthmore after the establishment of Swarthmore College...

, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, home on July 21, 1982. He had one son, David Jr., and a daughter, Paris. When he married Pamela in 1956, he adopted her son, Michael, whom he raised as his own even after her death.

The July 22 edition of Today was mainly a remembrance of Garroway. Sidekick Jack Lescoulie
Jack Lescoulie
Jack Lescoulie was a radio and television announcer and host, notably on NBC's Today during the 1950s and 1960s. His parents were both in vaudeville along with their children; Lescoulie's first public performance was at age seven. His first media job was with KGFJ, Los Angeles, when he was still...

, news editor Frank Blair, and former consumer reporter Betty Furness
Betty Furness
Elizabeth Mary Furness was an American actress, consumer advocate and current affairs commentator.-Early years:...

 offered tributes on the show. Garroway's passing was noted on NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News is the flagship daily evening television news program for NBC News and broadcasts. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is located in the center...

 with John Chancellor
John Chancellor
John William Chancellor was a well-known American journalist who spent most of his career with NBC News...

, the man who replaced Garroway on Today 21 years earlier. On NBC News Overnight
NBC News Overnight
NBC News Overnight was a television news program on the NBC television network airing weekday mornings from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. from July 5, 1982 to December 3, 1983 for 367 telecasts...

, host Linda Ellerbee
Linda Ellerbee
Linda Ellerbee is an American journalist who is most known for several jobs at NBC News, including Washington, DC correspondent, host of the Nickelodeon network's Nick News, and reporter and co-anchor of NBC News Overnight, which was recognized by the jurors of the duPont Columbia Awards as...

 closed the program with "Peace" instead of her usual "And so it goes."

Because of Garroway's dedication to the cause of mental health, his third wife, Sarah
Sarah Lee Lippincott
Sarah Lee Lippincott also known as Sarah Lee Lippincott Zimmerman is an American astronomer. She is Professor Emerita of Astronomy at Swarthmore College and Director Emerita of the college's Sproul Observatory....

, helped establish the Dave Garroway Laboratory for the Study of Depression at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery
West Laurel Hill Cemetery
West Laurel Hill Cemetery is a cemetery located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the site of many notable burials, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992...

, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Parodies and fictional representations

Robert McKimson
Robert McKimson
Robert "Bob" Porter McKimson, Sr. was an American animator, illustrator, and director best known for his work on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons from Warner Bros., and later DePatie-Freleng Enterprises...

's 1960 cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

 Wild Wild World depicts "Cave Darroway" presenting footage from the Stone Age.

Mad (magazine)
Mad is an American humor magazine founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines in 1952. Launched as a comic book before it became a magazine, it was widely imitated and influential, impacting not only satirical media but the entire cultural landscape of the 20th century.The last...

 spoofed him in one issue as "Dave Garrowunway."

In Robert Redford
Robert Redford
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. , better known as Robert Redford, is an American actor, film director, producer, businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival. He has received two Oscars: one in 1981 for directing Ordinary People, and one for Lifetime...

's 1994 film Quiz Show, Garroway was portrayed by Barry Levinson
Barry Levinson
Barry Levinson is an American screenwriter, film director, actor, and producer of film and television. His films include Good Morning, Vietnam, Sleepers and Rain Man.-Early life:...


Listen to

External links