Wednesday, May 23, 2007

1957, WABC & Howard Cosell

1957 was an exciting time for me. I had been hired by WABC radio to write promotional material and every day was a new adventure.

I was living in Tudor City, which was located near the United Nations on 42nd Street. My place of business was on the opposite side of town at West 86th Street. This was a bit of a hike but I actually walked it many mornings. I would be dressed “to the nines” but wearing sneakers and carrying my “stilettos” in a shoulder bag! I would start out very early and loved to stop and buy breakfast at one of the open-air carts that dotted the streets. This would consist of two eggs on toast and a few sliced tomatoes.

The days at work were long and very tiring and I seldom walked home. Often I would share a cab with others who lived on the East side, or were taking a train home to the suburbs from Grand Central Station. One of the regulars who did this was a young man named Howard Cosell.

Howard worked on the “broadcasting” floor of our building so I never ran into him except on our rides to the East side. His demeanor was always extremely proper and I had no reason to believe that he would become one of the most controversial figures in the world of sports reporting.

The thing I remember most about Howard Cosell was his quiet and compelling voice. The nasal sound was there but I never heard the excited and almost-manic quality that were to become his particular trademark. I remember seeing the Woody Allen movie “Bananas” years later and being shocked at Howard’s part in it.

Howard loved music and especially opera. He never tired of telling us about the shows that he and his wife had seen. He would outline the plots of the operas and when and where they had been performed. He was a born teacher and we were avid students.

Howard Cosell was a sportscaster like no other. He has been revered and despised but he has never been forgotten. Rich Little still mimics his distinctive manner and voice and he is immediately recognized by an audience that never knew him in real life.

I don’t know if he changed as he became famous. Somehow, I doubt it. I prefer to believe that he was a man with strong opinions and loves and that he couldn’t attempt to please all the people all the time. He probably didn’t care to either.

Howard is many things to many people...but to me he will always be the gentleman who insisted on paying the cab-fare.


Blogger kenju said...

Ginnie, I was never a fan of his, but you have redeemed him in my eyes! If he was that much of a gentleman, who am I not to like him? I remember him best when MOhammed Ali fought, since he called the fights on radio, and my roommate at the time always listened. He was good at what he did, I'll give you that!

9:11 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

One of those commentators that even I remember. Very distinctive.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be honest, I'm really not that familiar with him. (not into sports that much) I know who he is, but have no feelings one way or another. So from what you said, he sounded like a really nice person. Thanks for sharing this.
I really enjoyed reading this...sounds like you really enjoyed your single, NY, years. Such fun and great memories to look back on with some great experiences.

4:58 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

My goodness, Ginnie--is there anyone famous you haven't met? You have rubbed shoulders with many note-worthy folks in your life.
As for Howard Cosell--my husband & I have been big Monday Night Football fans since the beginning. I never liked Howard's role there, but he sure kept people entertained.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a charming story! His love of opera is quite an endearing trait. That photo brings me right back to 1970! We didn't have a TV at the time, but I remember going to a neighbor's house and seeing him cover the Winter Olympics. I love hearing about your time working in Manhattan.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Yes, we have a few sports presenters here that I grew up watching and their manners and way of doing things was much better ans nicer than the way sports reporters here do it now. I miss them. At least they could be jovial too.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Same question as kgmom, is there anyone famous you haven't met? Your stories are wonderful and give us a new look at many old faces.

6:22 AM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

You have had such an interesting life, so far. Thank you for sharing it with us!

10:08 PM  
Blogger Josh Max's blawg said...

Thanks for the NYC memories of the 50s! Keep 'em a'comin!


2:45 PM  

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