On the Ubiquitous Chuck McCann
Today is Chuck McCann’s birthday (born 1934)! McCann’s is one of those faces and voices that have made up part of the fabric of your life, whether you know his name or not. Once you get all the various pieces below, you’ll find yourself saying “Oh that guy!” repeatedly until it adds up to a mighty impressive picture.
A third generation performer, McCann was first on radio as a child, and performed stand-up as a teenager. What I didn’t know until recently (because I didn’t grow up in New York) was his extensive career as a children’s entertainer and puppeteer with an impressive list of local NYC television credits from 1950 through 1967. (I learned this by following the career of my ventriloquist friend Carla Rhodes, who knows McCann).
But gradually in the late 50s and early 60s he began to accrue a national profile as a character actor, comedian, impressionist and voice-over actor, starting with guest shots on Steve Allen’s and Gary Moore’s variety shows. Starting in 1962 he supplied the voices of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird and Gramps in the Cocoa Puffs commercials “”I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!” He was a cast member on Cool McCool (1966-69). He was in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968). He was the guy who said “Hi, Guy!” in the 1970s Right Guard commercials. He was in the Disney Love Bug sequel Herbie Rides Again in 1974, co-starred with Bob Denver in Far Out Space Nuts (which we wrote about here), co-starred with Tim Conway in He Went That-a-way and That-a-way in 1978, starred in Buster Crabbe’s last film The Comeback Trail in 1982, played W.C. Fields in the 1982 tv movie about Mae West starring Ann Jillian, and guest starred in too many tv shows, and did so many cartoon voice-overs we could never list them all here. (A notable recent credit was a semi-regular part as a judge on Boston Legal). Check out his IMDB page — he still works all the time!
Here’s a ventriloquism routine from back in the day:
To learn more about the history of show business, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc