Harold Gould; Edwin Newman

Edwin Newman had a detestation of pomposity, clichés, errors and jargon, especially from the powerful.

I am particularly fascinated with the story of Harold Gould, an actor with over 200 credits on his resume. He grew up in Schenectady, NY, near Albany, and went to State Teachers College, which is now UAlbany, belonging to the only Jewish fraternity available. His academics were interrupted by World War II, but he came back to Albany to get his degree in 1947. Eventually, taking the advice of his high school guidance counselor, he taught theater at Cornell. But eventually, the acting bug caught the teacher, and he became one of the best-known faces, if not names, in show business.

Here’s a 2003 interview with him.

He was in pilots to be the fathers of Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas) on That Girl and Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) on the Love American Style that led to Happy Days, but a whole lot more, from the father of Rhoda Morganstern (Valerie Harper) on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda to the boyfriend of Rose Nyland (Betty White) on Golden Girls.

In 2007, he donated his papers to his alma mater, now UAlbany. “The Gould Collection includes 10,000 scripts, letters, photos, news clippings and interviews that document the popular actor’s career since its beginnings in the early 1960s.”

Here’s the Albany Times Union obit, and the one in the New York Times. He died this week of prostate cancer at the age of 86, the disease that killed my father.

I was a big fan of Edwin Newman, not just as a newsman on The Today Show, Meet the Press and a slew of other programs. While serious in demeanor, he had a dry wit. After he “retired” from NBC in 1984, he hosted Saturday Night Live, and often played himself in movies and television, including on David Letterman. He also wrote two best-sellers about the English language, Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English? – his detestation of pomposity, clichés, errors, and jargon, especially from the powerful; and A Civil Tongue. He wasn’t pretty or bombastic or self-important; he was just good at informing the nation, even during its most trying times.

The NBC obit. He died last month in England, but the information was released recently.


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