I have had a GREAT career as a television game show announcer. Trust me, I know how fortunate I am.
I actually hold the record for announcing the most network televised game shows in a single season. I was the Announcer for seven huge game show titles including; The Price Is Right, Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Let's Make A Deal, Family Feud, Beat The Clock and Match Game. We taped all of those shows for a summer replacement series on CBS called, Game Show Marathon.
Additional game show credits for me (outside of that 2006 record setting season) include; Wheel of Fortune and The Florida Lottery's Flamingo Fortune. I have also announced for award shows including the TV Soap Awards, the WeHo Awards and many others. And I can't even recall how many events outside of television broadcast that I have lent my voice to. Too many.
Looking back at the list above makes me think, "Wow! That's a lot of work". But what many don't realize is that for every show that I did get to tape for TV... there were a half-dozen game show pilots that never made it to "air". The photo above is one of those never-seen-before pilots that I have done.
The year was 1983. I had just gotten fired at KUAD-FM outside of Denver, Colorado where I was doing Afternoon Drive. Getting fired in radio is not a big deal, somebody is always getting fired in the radio biz. I packed up everything that I had and drove myself across the Rocky Mountains to southern California. It was Hollywood that was calling my name from day-one, and I wanted to get out there as soon as I could. I arrived in Los Angeles overnight, it was well after midnight. But I still took the time to drive around Hollywood looking at the neon signs, the hookers on Sunset Blvd., the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theater (where all of the star's hand-prints are in cement).
I didn't have any real money with me when I arrived in California. I remember thinking, "What little money I do have, needs to be saved". So, getting a hotel room that night was not one of my priorities. Trying to get out of the rat-race of the city, I had driven to North Hollywood. I remember stopping my car in a relatively quiet neighborhood (Camarillo St. about two blocks west of Lankershim Blvd.) thinking this is a place where I can sleep in my car, which I did. As a matter of fact, (and I
have never mentioned this to anyone other than my wife) I slept in my car for quite a few nights. Now-a-days they call it being homeless. But I never thought of it that way. I knew that I was now in my dream-town and chalked up the entire experience to building some character. Digging myself out of homelessness was a challenge that I welcomed. I could feel what was in store for me down the road (at least I had hoped so) and I was willing to put in the work to get there.
My first morning in L.A. I drove to a street-side news stand a block south of Hollywood Boulevard to pick up a copy of the Hollywood Reporter. At the time, the Hollywood Reporter used to have a small section of casting notices published in the back. I found a notice that said somebody was looking for an announcer for a "Game Show Pilot". I called the number, jumped through the hoops to get producers a photo and a demo (just radio breaks from Denver on a cassette tape) and even auditioned for them at the Betty White Studios on Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. I believe Betty's studio is still there.
Fast-forward to my first day on the set... I was pleasantly surprised when I returned to the Betty White Studio for taping
day, that the host-to-be was none other than Alan Hale Jr., Skipper from Gilligan's Island. I was young, and awe-struck.
This was my first encounter with a bonafide celebrity. Alan was very giving and sweet to me. We rehearsed for hours in
blazing heat before the shoot. The game show was called, "TV Classics... The $100,000 TV Trivia Game Show". The
pilot was being produced for the Canadian Broadcasting Network. I'll never forget how tickled I was that every time Alan
referred to me, he would call me "Little Buddy". I of course, knew the catch-phrase from watching endless episodes of
Gilligan's Island. "Little Buddy" was Skipper's name for Gilligan. Little did I know that I would find out years that
Alan called most ever guy, "Little Buddy" because Alan was a large man (6'2" and big).
Alan and I had a great time together. We really hit it off. And it wasn't just Alan being sweet on the set or while on camera. Alan and I became friends and golfing buddies for years after our pilot together. We would golf and hit balls together at Weddington Golf & Tennis on Whitsett Avenue in Studio City, very near Alan's house. I was very sad the day that I had learned of Alan's death (January, 2nd. 1990).
Meeting and working with Alan Hale Jr. was a pleasure. The pilot we did for "TV Classics" stuck with me for many years.
I even developed an iPhone App many years later, based on the same concept as "TV Classics". My iPhone App was called,
"The Television Trivia Test", and it sold very well for me for years. However, keeping up with constant updates to the
computer code was costing me a bundle. So after a few years, I pulled the plug on the App.
Since meeting Alan, my wife and I have also had the opportunity to meet Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. As it
turned out, Dawn had the same agent that I did and Christine and Dawn became very close. They would go see plays and
lunch together. We have spent Halloween giving out candy at her home in Toluca Lake, I have hosted events for her at the Idaho Film Festival (a passion project of hers) and have stayed at her home in Driggs, Idaho. We even hosted her at The Price is Right on a couple of occasions. Dawn was a fan of Bob's and of the show. I have pictures that document all of that someplace too.
Some day I will dig up our Dawn Wells photos and share a few stories about her with you.
"My First Game Show"
RICH FIELDS' BLOG