The Surprising Breadth of Harry Von Zell

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Today is the birthday of Harry Von Zell (1906-1981). Today he is best remembered for playing the neighbor and on-air announcer in the highly self-reflexive tv version of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. Here is an episode with a special Von Zellian emphasis:

Prior to this, Von Zell had been a CBS radio staff announcer for 20 years, working with the likes of Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Ed Wynn, Phil Baker, and Joan Davis. Here he is in a bit on the Fred Allen Show:

He’d also had his own radio program The Smiths of Hollywood, co-starring Arthur Treacher, and his own series of Columbia comedy shorts (1946-1950). Here he is in one of those, Meet Mr. Mischief:

In later years, the multi-talented Von Zell wrote several episodes of Wagon Train and acted on that show as well as McHale’s Navy, The Tall Man, Bachelor Father and Perry Mason. 

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

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