Benjamin Franklin Grauer (
June 2, 1908– May 31, 1977) was an American radioand TVpersonality, following a career as a child actorin the 1920s, both in film and on Broadway. He started his career in David Warfield's production of "The Return of Peter Grimm". Among his early credits were roles in films directed by D.W. Griffith.
Grauer was born in
Staten Island, New York. After graduating from Townsend Harris High School, he received his B.A. from the City College of New Yorkin 1930.
Grauer started in
radioas an actor, but soon became part of the broadcasting staff at the National Broadcasting Company. He was the main announcer for the NBC SymphonyBroadcasts on radio and TV from 1940 till 1954. Arturo Toscaninisaid he was his favorite announcer. Grauer's other close personal associations in broadcasting included Walter Winchelland Eleanor Roosevelt.
It is for announcing the Toscanini radio concerts that Grauer is best known to modern classical music buffs. Several reissues of them on CD have included those announcements, to give the listener the feeling that he/she is listening to the NBC Symphony radio broadcasts exactly as they sounded when first aired. However, on the
videocassettesand dvd's of Toscanini's television concerts, Grauer's voice has been replaced by that of Martin Bookspan. This was done because the music tracks now heard are not taken from the actual 1948-1952 television audio, which was very inferior, but from live, hi-fimagnetic tape sound recordings made of these very same concerts at the studio. They are exactly synchronized to the visual images so that it now appears that these programs were made with high-fidelity sound. In order to maintain a complete illusion of superior sound, the announcements had to be redone; the difference in audio quality between Grauer's announcements and the music tracks as they are now heard would have been blatantly obvious.
Starting in 1932, Grauer covered the
Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations, and international events. He married interior designer Melanie Kahane in 1954.
Ben Grauer is best remembered by TV viewers of the
baby boomergeneration as the onetime NBC radio and TV host of the annual New Year's Eve broadcasts live from " Times Square". For decades, these broadcasts were part of the NBC Tonight Show, where he worked not only with Johnny Carson, but his predecessors. During his 40-year broadcast career, he hosted over half a dozen TV programs on NBC including game shows, quiz shows, concerts and news programs. His career at NBC ended in 1973, from which he went to CBS, joining Guy Lombardo's broadcasts until both Grauer's and Lombardo's deaths in 1977.
In the decade before his death, Grauer also collected material for a projected history of prices and pricing, with special attention to book prices. He was active in several professional journalistic organizations as well as the
Grolier Club. Grauer always had a great interest in the graphic arts; he even printed his own Christmas cards.
An archival recording of Grauer's voice, calling, "Here It Is," begins
Harry Shearer's Le Show.
, New York.
Including early career as child actor:
*His Woman (1919)
*Mad Woman (1919)
*The Idol Dancer (1920) .... as Native Boy (film directed by
*Annabel Lee (1921) .... David Martin, as a child
*The Town That Forgot God (1922) .... as a boy
*My Friend the Devil (1922) .... George Dryden, as a boy
*Gaslight Follies (1945) .... Narrator, 'Stars of Yesterday'
*Fight of the Wild Stallions (1947) .... Narrator
Kon-Tiki(1950) (voice) .... Narrator
Radio and TV Years
Perhaps Ben Grauer's greatest fame lies in his legendary 40-year career in
radio.In 1930, the then 22-year-old Benjamin Franklin Grauer joined the staff at NBC.He quickly rose through the ranks, to become a senior commentator and reporter.He was the designated announcer for the popular 1940s Walter Winchell's "Jergens Journal". Perhaps, most importantly, he was selected by Arturo Toscanini to become the voice of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. (Grauer took over in 1940 and remained until it was disbanded in June 1954).
Grauer did both the Toscanini radio and TV broadcasts. Several years after the death of Toscanini, Ben Grauer, together with the composer Don Gillis (who produced the NBC programs from 1947-1954), created the
Peabody Award-winning radio series "Toscanini, the Man Behind the Legend". It began in 1963 and continued through the centennial of Toscanini's birth in 1967. This series ran for nearly two decades on NBC Radio, and then other radio stations until the early 1980s.
During his distinguished radio career Grauer covered nearly every major historic event, including the
Morro Castlefire, the Paris Peace Conference, and the US occupation of Japan. Millions remember Ben Grauer for his NBC broadcast coverage of the New Year's celebrations on both radio and TV. Between 1951 and 1969 Grauer covered these events eleven times live from New York's Times Square.
He continued covering New Year's Eve for
Guy Lombardo's New Year's Eve specials on CBSin the 1970s, with his last appearance on Dec. 31, 1976, the year before both he and Lombardo died.
Ben Grauer provided the commentary for NBC's first television special, the opening in 1939 of the
New York World's Fair.
In 1948 Grauer, together with
John Cameron Swayzeprovided the first live TV coverage of the national political conventions. In 1956 NBC began broadcasting some of their shows in living color and in 1957 the animated Peacock logo made its debut. It was Grauer who first spoke the now famous words, "the following program is brought to you in living color on NBC," behind the Peacock graphic. Between all these heady tasks, Grauer also found the time to host many popular radio and TV programs, including:
Pot o' Gold" (1939-41) Considered the first "interactive" broadcast program. A popular game show hosted by Grauer. Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights played while Grauer asked listeners questions on the phone. It was this program that introduced the famous phrase: "Stop the Music".
Atlantic Spotlight" (1940s) Grauer would chat across the Atlantic Ocean with BBC announcer in London.
*"Battle of the Sexes" (1938) NBC quiz.
Information, Please!" (1938-52) NBC quiz show
*"Sleep No More" (1956-57) NBC Radio drama
*"What Would You Have Done?" NBC Radio drama
American Historyquiz show. NBC-TV
The Ben Grauer Show", " You Are an Artist", " Learn to Draw" (1950)
*"The Big Story" (1949-57) dramatic TV anthology. NBC-TV
*"Eyewitness" (1947-48) Series that traced the history and development of TV itself. NBC-TV
In Town Today" (1951) RCAvariety specials included Bob Hopeand other stars showing off their new TV sets. NBC-TV
It's a Problem" (1951-52) A trio of experts discuss everyday living difficulties. NBC-TV
*"Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge" (1949-50) Popular musical quiz show hosted by Grauer. NBC-TV
Lewisohn StadiumConcerts" (1950) Featuring the New York Philharmonic. NBC-TV
March of Medicine" (1958) Medical documentary series. NBC-TV
*"The Sacco-Vanzetti Story" (1960) TV
miniseriesnarrated by Grauer.
Say It With Acting" (1949–1952) Teams from Broadway shows play charades.
*"Tactic" (1959) NBC-TV series. Guests included
Alfred Hitchcockand William Shatner.
*"What Happened" (1952) Panelists had to find out why each guest was important. NBC-TV
* [http://www.classicalrecordings.org/znbc/index.html Ben Grauer announces for Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony. Listen to this complete and historic WWII broadcast and view a photo of Ben Grauer]
* [http://radiogoldindex.com/cgi-local/p3.cgi?ArtistName=Grauer,+Ben&ArtistNumber=02776 Grauer's radio announcing credits]
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