Sandy Becker

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Born

Spanish Harlem, NYC

Died

4/9/1996

Birth Name

George Becker

Gender

Male

Biography:

Originally, George Becker wanted to train to be a doctor. But after winning an audition with Woodside Queens, NYC based radio WWRL, he gave up a medical career for a career as a radio host and performer.

He began his career at WWRL Radio as an announcer and he later became a newscaster. It was during this time that he changed his first name to Sandy. Sandy would work for WWRL Radio until the 1940's, when he joined WBT Radio in Charlottesville, NC as an announcer and newscaster. He also met a young actress and singer named Ruth Venable who he would later marry.

The Beckers remained in Charlottesville, NC until they returned to NYC, where Sandy joined the CBS Radio Network. He worked on several CBS Radio shows as an announcer, newscaster, interviewer, and actor. He succeeded character actor Gary Merill in the lead role of "Young Dr.Malone". Becker would play the young intern on The CBS Radio version of the popular daytime soap opera into the 1960's. In 1953, Sandy Becker made his NYC tv debut on a weeknight tv game show, "Ask The Camera", which was created and produced by future tv talk show host and producer, Barbara Walters. He would host the series for two years. But it was not until April of 1955 that Sandy Becker would be introduced to the medium for which he is best remembered.

During a party, he met The Dumount TV Network's creative broadcasting genius, Ted Cott, who invited the talented young broadcaster and entertainer to audition for a new children's wraparound tv show. Becker accepted the offer, won the audition and, on Monday evening April 11, 1955, he became the second host/performer of "The Looney Tunes Show" (The first host, cartoonist and storyteller Bob Bean, left the series abruptly). Working against the backdrop of a clubhouse, Sandy would engage his viewers in games, drawing lessons, puppet skits (Becker built and manipulated his own puppets), informational segments, contests, interviews with guest performers and personalities, and receive visits from animal expert "Uncle Mike" Grimaldi and his pets. These segments were wrapped around reruns of Warner Brothers' "Looney Tunes" Movie cartoons. Becker would use the same concept for his next three kids tv series: "Fun House" (which was seen weekday afternoons at lunchtime from Monday June 27, 1955 until the show moved to a weekday morning timeslot on Monday September 26, 1955 and was retitled "The Sandy Becker Morning Show!"),"The Bugs Bunny Theater!", which was seen Friday Nights on WABD TV Ch.5 from Friday, September 14, 1956 to Friday, September 6, 1957, and "Sandy Becker Presents The Our Gang Comedies!" weekday evenings on WNEW TV Ch.5 in NYC from Monday, November 17, 1958 to Friday, March 17, 1961.

Adding to his busy schedule, Sandy would serve as the first host/performer of WABD/WNEW/WNYW TV Ch.5 NYC's long running comedy/variety kids tv show "Wonderama!". First seen as a Sunday afternoon program, "Wonderama!" was patterned after The Dave Garroway version of NBC TV's "Today Show". Becker and his fellow co-hosts/performers and instructors Pat(Rica)Meikle, Melbourne Christopher, and "Capt.Video" (Al Hodge) would engage their studio audiences and their viewers in games, songs, stories, craftmaking, hobbies, cooking lessons, drawing lessons, comedy and puppet skits, magic tricks, escape stunts, kids fashion shows, informational segments and interviews with guest peformers, personalities and members of the studio audience. The shows live segments were wrapped around reruns of movie cartoons, comedies, serials, westerns and sci fi films. Becker would mc "Wonderama" from Sunday, September 25, 1955 to Sunday, August 13, 1956 when he began a new kids tv show "The Sandy Becker Show!" on Monday, March 30, 1961. He decided to discard the contests and drawing lessons for a program that featured puppet and character comedy skits. His portrayals of such zany types as "Dr.Gershunheidt", "The Big Prof.", "The Ranger & Athur Arrowroot", "SuperNorkculease" and the wild and wacky "Hambone" spoofed many of tv's most popular genre's. He also created a series of skits that taught his young viewers important cognitive skills and also encouraged them to use their imaginations in a fun and creative manner. "Norton Nork" was a silent little boy character that Becker used to teach his viewers simple tasks, e.g. how to eat with utensils at dinnertime, how to paint a room, how to brush and their dogs, exercise in the morning and how to bake a pizza. He even showed the kids what it was like to operate a tv camera on a kids tv show and how to add sound effects for a movie. "Norton Nork" became Sandy's most popular character. "The Sandy Becker Show" was also seen on Saturday nights from Saturday, March 27, 1961 to Saturday, September 4, 1965. On Monday evening, January 15, 1962 the show's title was changed to "Sandy's Hour!". "Sandy's Hour!" was seen weekday evenings and afternoons on Ch.5. until the weekday afternoon series was dropped around 1966. Sandy continued to host the weekday morning version of "The Sandy Becker Morning Show" until the series was cancelled on Friday, February 16, 1968. On Saturday Night December 23,1961.Sandy created,produced and hosted a puppet version of the Charles Dickens Yultide classic:"A Christmas Carol".Gebba Gebba played:"Ebernizer Scrooge",Sir Clyde Clive played"Bob Cratchet","Marvin Mouse"was "Tiny Tim"and Stanley Q.Played "the Ghost of Jacob Marley.Sandy's tv puppet version of "Christmas Carol"maintained the vaules of the original tale.But he added his own brand of humor and warmth to the show.Becker also did voice overs for numerious tv cartoons series: "King Leonardo & His Short Subjects", "Tennesse Tuxido & His Tales!", "The Underdog Show!", "The Go Go Gophers!", "The Marvel Superheroes Cartoon Show" and "The Beagles!". He also did VO's for radio and tv commercials. During the late 1960's, Sandy returned to radio as the host and interviewer of a weekday morning talk show for WNEW Radio. But the series was not successful and was quickly dropped. He left NYC and spent much of his time in Florida working on radio. He returned to NYC to do more vo's for radio and tv commcercials and to try and return to tv by working on some tv comedy specials for a family audience with his young friend, entertainer:Craig Marin. But the proposed mini series of family tv comedy specials never came to fruition. Sandy Becker's last tv appearance was on WNEW TV Ch.5 NYC's two hour long tv tribute to it's 40 years in broadcasting, "40 Years Of Fine Tuning!". The show aired on Monday night September 7, 1984 and was rebroadcast on Saturday night December 8, 1984, hosted by actor/singer and tv producer and scriptwriter, Carroll O'Connor (Best remembered as "Archie Bunker" on "All In The Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place!" and "Police Chief"/"Sheriff Bill Gillespie" on "In The Heat Of The Night!"). Sandy recalled his many years as one of NYC's most popular kids tv wraparound hosts/performers. On Tuesday morning April 9, 1996,when he returned home from the hospital, he died of a heart attack.