with Judy Garland in Girl Crazy
with Judy Garland in Girl Crazy

with Marlon Brando in the Wild One
with Marlon Brando in the Wild One

with Willy Shoemaker
with horse legend Willy Shoemaker

with Mickey Rooney in Girl Crazy
with Mickey Rooney in Girl Crazy

with football legend Jim Brown
with football legend Jim Brown

with Bill Holden,
	Stalag 17 castAND Gloria Swanson
with Bill Holden,
Stalag 17 cast
AND Gloria Swanson

Gil Stratton 1922-2008

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Gil Stratton's story spans from the Golden Age of Radio to the dawn of contemporary Sport's Broadcasting History.
Gil Stratton, 86, called 'em as he saw 'em
from L.A. Observed...
by Kevin Roderick

A friend of longtime Los Angeles sportscaster Gil Stratton emailed the news that Stratton died this morning at home in Toluca Lake. He was 86 and had suffered heart problems. Stratton was a fixture on KNX Radio and Channel 2 for decades and the popular sports anchor on "The Big News" with Jerry Dunphy that ushered in the era of hour-long news in L.A. From the obit being circulated by friends:

Stratton, 86, was a native of Brooklyn, NY and started out as a Broadway performer at the age of 19 in the musical "Best Foot Forward." That led to a career in films including a supporting role in the Academy Award-winning "Stalag 17".
His career was interrupted by World War II when he served as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps.
In 1954, Stratton caught the attention of management at Channel 2, then KNXT, and became a sportscaster. He became part of the "Big News" team headed by anchor Jerry Dunphy as the station dominated local news ratings in the 1960's. Drawing on his background as a baseball umpire, Stratton would open his sportscasts with a trademark line: "Hi folks, time to call 'em as we see 'em." He is the recipient of seven "Golden Mike" awards from the Southern California Broadcasters association.
Stratton's acting credits on IMDb span 1943 to 2003.

Gil Stratton's career of over sixty years and outstanding Professional Achievement in the Field of Entertainment shows longevity seldom seen by others. He continues to nurture others interested in the field of broadcasting through ongoing teaching and lectures. Countless fans of Gil's classic film, early radio work and television work, but especially his sports fans will be excited to learn about and visit his star on the Walk of Fame.
"The 60's through the 70's were what are now considered the "golden age" of Los Angeles sports history; and it was simply a wondrous place in time, and a wondrous area, for a young sports fan to grow up. The UCLA basketball Bruins, led by John Wooden, were in the middle of their legendary run of titles, including 7 straight. The USC football Trojans, led by John McKay, would win 3 national titles in 6 years from 1968-1974. The USC baseball Trojans led by Rod Dedeaux were winning 7 national titles in 10 years from 1968 to 1978. The Lakers, led by Hall Of Famers Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain, were in the NBA finals 9 times in 11 years from 1962-1973. The Dodgers, led by hall of famers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, and Tommy Lasorda, would visit the World Series 6 times. Then, there were the Rams. Ahhh yes, the Rams."

"I was just starting to get my first taste of sports, thanks to television and radio, and as I look back on it now, I couldn't have been any luckier, because the LA airwaves were filled with legendary voices. Vin Scully, Chick Hearn, Dick Enberg, and Gil Stratton to name just a few. The magic they weaved with their words and descriptions brought a little 6 year old boy who snuck his transistor radio under his pillow each summer night, listening to the exploits of his heroes as he went to bed, into worlds of championship dreams every night, where once asleep, he imagined himself roaming the diamond at Chavez Ravine, standing on the gridiron of the LA Coliseum, and running up and down the hardwood of the Fabulous Forum."

"I hold a special place in my heart for all the gentlemen listed above, and many I did not mention, for they were the artists that painted the canvas of my imagination, and helped mold and shape that little boy, into the sports fan he is today."

Rudy Hiers
Let's call this one as we see it...
Gil Stratton was a sure winner.


Stratton
In addition to sportscasting, Stratton's career included a stint in the Army Air Forces as well as acting roles. He appeared in the film "Girl Crazy" with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, singing "Embraceable You" in duet with Garland.

Gil Stratton dies; longtime sportscaster was also an actor

By Jon Thurber, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 13, 2008

The TV and radio anchor and the voice of the L.A. Rams was known for his tagline, 'Time to call 'em as I see 'em.'

Gil Stratton, a longtime presence in Southern California as an anchor on Channel 2 and KNX-AM 1070, died Saturday of congestive heart failure at this home in Toluca Lake, according to his wife Dee. He was 86.
A former radio, theater and film actor and Pacific Coast League umpire, Stratton used the signature line "Time to call 'em as I see 'em." It first became familiar to generations of Southern Californians during his 16-year tenure on "The Big News," the KNXT (now KCBS-TV Channel 2) broadcast in the mid-1960s that scored huge ratings as the first hourlong news program in the region. The groundbreaking newscast at various times featured Clete Roberts, Jerry Dunphy, Ralph Story, Bill Stout and Bill Keene.

Stratton covered virtually every kind of sporting event, including the Summer Olympics from Rome in 1960. For years, he hosted the feature horse race on Saturdays from Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar. He also worked as an announcer for the L.A. Rams.

MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann worked with Stratton at KCBS and at KNX 1070.

"There aren't many renaissance men in any age, but Gil was one of them," Olbermann said in an e-mail to the Times on Sunday.

"He used to enthrall me. Stories of sports in L.A. in the 1950s. Working with Brando. Umpiring. Bill Stout stories. Jerry Dunphy stories. More Jerry Dunphy stories. Kissing Judy Garland every night for a year on Broadway. He knew everybody and everything and seemed to delight in them all."

Olbermann also recalled him as a man who didn't take himself too seriously.

"In '56 or '57, he had it on the highest authority that the Dodgers would not be moving to L.A. and said so on the air (and he used to laugh like hell when he said it on the air). In fact he told his viewers on KNXT that if the Dodgers did move to L.A., he'd jump off the end of the Santa Monica pier. They did, and so he did."

Stratton was born June 2, 1922, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended Poly Prep in Brooklyn and earned his bachelor's degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. He started his acting career as a teenager and, at 19, appeared on Broadway in the George Abbot production "Best Foot Forward," also working as a radio actor. Two years later, he appeared in the film "Girl Crazy" with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, singing "Embraceable You" in duet with Garland.

Stratton joined the Army Air Forces during World War II; he was inducted on stage in Chicago after a performance of "Best Foot Forward" and trained at the gunnery school in Las Vegas. But he spent much of his service time umpiring ball, a skill he had picked up in college. Years later, he would remember calling Joe DiMaggio out on a third strike at a game in Westwood and having the Yankee Clipper remark to him, "It was a little low, wasn't it, son?"

After the war, he settled in Southern California and became a fixture on dramatic radio. He played opposite Shirley Temple in the radio version of "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer" and, according to his website, was a regular on classic programs including "The Life of Riley," and "The Lux Radio Theater."

When Gale Storm's "My Little Margie" went from television to radio, Stratton played her boyfriend, Freddie, for several years. And he also played Ed Tatum, the soda jerk, on "Fibber McGee and Molly."

He appeared in a number of films, including "Stalag 17", for which he also supplied the narration; "The Wild One"; "Monkey Business"; and "Bundle of Joy."

When he wasn't working behind the mike or the camera, he was often behind the plate as an umpire for Pacific Coast League games for nine years.

He joined Channel 2 in the mid-1950s and worked in either radio or television until the late 1990s. He also lived for a time in Hawaii, where he owned a radio station.

Olbermann recalled Stratton as "a lovely man and a consummate professional."

"I have never seen anybody in any field accept a change in the circumstances in his career better than Gil did. He was the king [in Southern California] well into the '70s, and then he had to come back in the '80s and do things like work as a backup to punks like me. And not only was there never a word of complaint, but he was never anything less than enthusiastic about his new role, and generous in how he treated and encouraged me," he said.

During Stratton's years in broadcasting, he won two local Emmys and six Golden Mikes from the Radio and Television News Assn. of Southern California, and was inducted into the Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Dee, and his children, Gilda Stratton, Billy Norvas, Gibby Stratton, Laurie O'Brien and Cary Stratton. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Services are pending.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Stratton's name be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.

jon.thurber@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-stratton13-2008oct13,0,7894390.story

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