President Who?

von zell
Harry Von Zell (1906-1981)

Harry Von Zell is remembered as the long-time announcer of the Burns & Allen radio and television programs, but he also has the dubious distinction of being responsible for one of the first bloopers to be broadcast on the air.

The occasion was a birthday tribute to President Herbert Hoover, and Von Zell handled the narration of the program admirably, except for one significant slip-up. Toward the end of the tribute, he referred to the President as “Hoobert Heever.”

Years later, Von Zell remembered the moment: “I must have mentioned in that opening the name of Herbert Hoover no less than twenty times. I was very young at the time . . . and was very nervous. I walked out of that studio — we were on the twenty-third floor of the Columbia Broadcasting System building — and fortunately the windows were not operative. They were fixed windows or I would have jumped out! And I thought that whatever career might have been a potential in my life began and ended right there in that one incident.”

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