This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Graham McNamee (1888-1942)

Graham McNamee was born July 10, 1888, in Washington, DC. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. After completing his postsecondary studies, in 1912 he moved to New York where he became a serious singer (some people would say "opera singer".) He had a very active career in his area, singing in choirs and small groups, as well as solo work. He was a baritone.

One afternoon in 1923, after serving jury duty, he wandered into the AT&T Building to the studios of station WEAF. He asked the staff how he could get a job as an announcer. They auditioned him and he was hired then.

Within days, he became the first baseball announcer in history, as he broadcast a preseason game between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees at the Polo Grounds. The folks in Chicago heard about this and WMAQ became the second station to broadcast Major League baseball games.

Graham McNamee became the voice of everything... from horse racing to boxing to football to the National Marble Championships. He was the announcer for the 1924 Republican National Convention (in Cleveland, Ohio), the first political rally EVER broadcast. He was the announcer for the first coast to coast broadcast of the Rose Bowl football game (the University of Alabama tied Leland Stanford, Jr., University 7-7) in Pasadena, California. He was on hand when Charles A. Lindbergh returned to America from his transatlantic flight. McNamee was ringside on September 22, 1927, in a fight known as the Battle of the Long Count, between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney (won by Tunney). And he announced everything that could be announced concerning baseball at the time.

OTR aficionados know him best as being Ed Wynn's straight man.  He could be also heard on Rudy Vallee's program and many other shows originating from New York.

His voice was also familiar to moviehouse attenders in the late 1930s as he was the voice that announced the Universal Pictures Newsreel every week.  Although he was connected with NBC, he did make the report about the infamous Marian broadcast on Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on October 30, 1938. The newsreel was out the second week in November.

Graham McNamee died May 9, 1942, in New York City. He was survived by his wife, Josephine Garrett, a fellow serious singer who continued her career during their marriage. McNamee was 53 years old. He is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mc Namee had such a friendly way of ending his broadcasts: "This is Graham McNamee speaking, good night, all."


Melisa Marzett said...

Thanks for reminding of this amazing opera singer! Graham McNamee was most recognized national personality in 1900s'! If you need to add something new to your post, let us know - go to term paper writing service to discuss the details!

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