GEORGE FENNEMAN Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: George Watt Fenneman                                                             
Born: 10 November 1919                                                                 
Died: 29 May 1997                                                                     
George Watt Fenneman (November 10, 1919 - May 29, 1997) was a radio and               
television announcer. He was born in Beijing, China and grew up in San Francisco,     
California. He graduated from San Francisco State College in 1942 and worked as       
a radio correspondent during World War II.                                             
His career began as a radio announcer for commercials. His most famous role was       
as announcer on the Groucho Marx quiz show, You Bet Your Life. The show began in       
1947 on radio. Fenneman joined the program while still on the radio and stayed         
with it when it moved to the television medium in 1950. He was the perfect             
straight man for the zany antics and quips of Marx. Fenneman was actually             
selected because of his intelligence and ability to calculate the score of the         
contestants. He remained friends with Marx after the show ended in 1961 until         
the comedian died in 1977.                                                             
Fenneman was one of two paired announcers on Dragnet, sharing narration duties         
with Hal Gibney on radio and the original Dragnet television series, and with         
John Stephenson when Dragnet returned to TV in 1967. It was Fenneman's voice           
which announced, "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been         
changed to protect the innocent."                                                     
He appeared on screen in the 1951 film The Thing from Another World in a               
substantial but uncredited role. He and his wife were neighbors of the director,       
Christian Nyby. A spontaneous on-set script revision convinced Fenneman his           
future was not in movie acting. Producer Howard Hawks took a long scientific           
speech away from Robert O. Cornthwaite's character Dr. Carrington, preferring to       
give exposition to a minor character (Fenneman). As a radio performer accustomed       
to reading from a script and not used to quick memorization, Fenneman stumbled         
over the technical gobbledegook ("We have the time of arrival on the                   
seisomograph..."), resulting in 27 takes of the scene. In the final film,             
viewers can see the other actors trying not to smile as Fenneman spouts the           
lines. He also appeared in an obscure serial, Mystery Lake, in which he played         
the unlikely role of a naturalist teaching a young girl about the flora and           
fauna around a Tennessee lake. This serial aired on The Mickey Mouse Club. He         
avoided on-screen performances thereafter, except as himself in documentaries.         
Mr. Fenneman also hosted two different game shows, Anybody Can Play in 1958; and       
a daytime offering from CBS, Your Surprise Package in 1961. In 1966, he hosted a       
pilot for a show called Crossword, which would later be re-named The Cross-Wits       
and picked up nine years later with a new host.                                       
In 1963 he hosted an ABC program, Your Funny, Funny Films, a precursor to             
America's Funniest Home Videos. His last credit was as narrator of The Naked           
Monster, released posthumously in 2006. He can still be heard, however, as the         
voice that gives the official time from the United States Naval Observatory in         
Washington, D.C.                                                                       
He was married to Peggy Ann Clifford from 1943 until her death in 1984 and             
had three children.                                                                   
He died from emphysema in Los Angeles, California.