Harry von Zell

Birth name:
Date of Birth:
21 November 1906 Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Portly, pudding-faced, wavy dark-haired actor/announcer Harry Von Zell, whose well-modulated voice was a standard radio fixture during the 1930s and 40s, also extended his talents toward film and TV where he appeared in numerous comedy outings, often as a straight man foil. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 11, 1906, he attended UCLA and first started on the air waves in 1927 with KMIC as both announcer and singer, eventually moving into national radio, announcing for Bing Crosby among others. Known for his quick and clever ad-libbing, he nevertheless got quite a bit of ribbing and won an honorary award in the Immortal National Hall of Bloopers Fame for referring to President Herbert Hoover once as "Hoobert Heever."Von Zell decorated a number of films, owning a few prime buttoned-down support parts in both comedy, including The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), For Heaven's Sake (1950) and Son of Paleface (1952), and dramas, such as The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947) and The Saxon Charm (1948). He was also front-and-center in a number of comedy shorts, usually playing himself. The name Harry Von Zell became a household word, while riding on the talented coattails of the husband/wife comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen in their classic TV comedy. He played the hesitant, somewhat bewildered friend of the family, also serving as the program's announcer. In addition, he was with CBS in New York for six years and a TV network announcer for the likes of Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen Phil Baker, Dinah Shore and Joan Davis over his long career. Following his retirement in the 1970s after some TV work including "Bachelor Father" and "Perry Mason" (he also once wrote and appeared on a "Wagon Train" episode), Van Zell was seen frequently at nostalgic functions. He died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 75 in Los Angeles. He was a posthumous inductee of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
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