Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dear Fellow Lucyfans:

Remembering Bob LeMond

Was sad to learn of the recent death of Bob LeMond, the longtime CBS Radio announcer whose voice was part of every "My Favorite Husband" broadcast. Bob passed away last Sunday, January 6, of natural causes. He was 94. Following is an obituary that was printed in the North County Times:

Bonsall resident had the voice that launched a thousand shows

By: JEFF FRANK -- Staff Writer

BONSALL ---- The name and the face may not be familiar, but millions of people who tuned in during the golden age of radio and television would likely recognize the voice of Bob LeMond.

From the mid-1930s well into the '60s, LeMond was as busy an announcer as there was in the business, according to his son, Steve. LeMond's announcing credits included the "Leave It to Beaver" and "Ozzie and Harriet" programs as well as commercials for Raid, Oldsmobile and Johnson's Wax.

He was the announcer of Lucille's Ball's first radio sitcom, "My Favorite Husband," doing a humorous bit with the legendary comedienne at the end of each show, and he announced the TV pilot episode of "I Love Lucy," which was lost for many years.

"He was the best," said Gregg Oppenheimer, whose father, Jess, was the producer, writer and director of Ball's radio show and a writer for the TV sitcom. "He was that familiar voice that people heard at everything from 'Leave It to Beaver' to the Academy Awards, but they didn't know his name. He was also one of the nicest guys in the business."

Robert "Bob" West LeMond Jr. died of natural causes Jan. 6 at his Bonsall home. He was 94.

Becoming an announcer was never in the game plan for LeMond. Born April 11, 1913, in Hale Center, Texas, he was raised in Southern California and was a football star at Long Beach Poly High School. He was selling advertising for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner when his brother-in-law asked him to read a commercial for a radio show that his ad agency was sponsoring.

LeMond got his audition live on the air, according to a 1957 magazine account in "TV Radio Mirror," and was hired immediately at $20 a week.

After bouncing between San Francisco and Los Angeles for a couple of years, he was hired on with CBS radio in Los Angeles, becoming one of its main announcers.

Army service during World War II took him to New Caledonia, where he ran the Mosquito Network of radio stations serving several islands in the South Pacific. A visit to the island by a traveling USO show proved momentous for the young announcer.

Before the troupe arrived, LeMond got his hands on a brochure that pictured the women in the show. Looking it over, he pointed to one and said, "That's the one for me."

When LeMond met Barbara Brewster, one of the performing "Brewster Twins," she asked him, "Have we met before?"

They hadn't, but after a few dinners and post-show walks, the couple became inseparable. They married after the war, had three children, and were together 59 years until her death in June 2005.

LeMond returned to CBS after the war, announcing radio and TV shows such as "My Friend Irma," "Our Miss Brooks," "Spike Jones," "Red Skelton," and "Bat Masterson," along with specials such as the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Academy Awards.

He was also the voice of countless commercials, including the well-known Raid bug spray spots with the legendary Mel Blanc.

"His voice got him a lot of work," said Steve LeMond. "He was good-looking as well, with dark black hair that came over well on television."

"His voice had such a great quality to it," added Oppenheimer. "When he needed to have the sound of authority, he did. When he needed to sound friendly, he sounded friendly. There are so many things from classic television that he was a part of."

As the medium changed and announcers fell out of favor in the late 1960s, LeMond and his wife moved to Bonsall, where he dabbled in real estate and became active with the local homeowners association.

He enjoyed golf and boating and spending time with his family, something his job had always allowed him to do.

"We thought he had a great job because he could spend a lot of time with his family," said his oldest son, Rob. "He didn't have to go to work from 9 to 5. He wasn't a celebrity movie star, but he was certainly well-known."

Have a great week everyone!

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