If you’ve got RealPlayer installed on your computer, click here. You should get a segment from last week’s Prairie Home Companion that starts with a nifty bit in which Garrison Keillor interviews Wally Ballou–who is, of course, Bob Elliott. Who was, of course, half of Bob and Ray, two of the greatest comedians who ever lived. And who just turned 85, and who sounds as much like Bob as he ever did.
The world’s been a little less amusing since Ray Goulding left us eighteen years ago. And my week has been brightened immeasurably by this reminder that Bob is still with us, more than sixty years after the team got its start in Boston–and he’s still a grand master of radio comedy.
I think I first made personal contact with Shamus Culhane when he wrote an incensed letter to Animato about a book review we’d published–of what book, I don’t remember. (By then, I was already a huge fan of his Talking Animals and Other People memoir, still one of the most indispensable books ever written about animation.) Shamus may have been incensed, but he turned into a friend. We exchanged letters and talked on the phone, and I have extremely vivid memories of the two visits I made to his coop on West End in New York. Chatting with him in person was like getting a live, uncensored, funnier version of his memoir, although he talked about Animato with as much enthusiasm as he did about his own life and work.
Kip Williams pointed me to the videos below, which record parts of a 1989 interview that Ira Gallen conducted with Shamus. It’s wonderful to see him and hear that voice again, about thirteen years after I last saw him in person…