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Dick Beals, R.I.P.

The legendary Dick Beals — a star of radio, cartoons and more commercials than just about anyone — has died in a Southern California nursing home at the age of 85.

Dick stood 4'7" due to a glandular problem which also gave him his youthful voice. He was playing ten-year-old boys well into his seventies and was often called upon to loop (i.e., dub in the voice of) live-action child actors in movies or on TV programs.

He started in radio dramas in 1949 while attending Michigan State University. Several popular radio programs emanated from Detroit at the time and Dick wound up being heard on all of them but most notably The Lone Ranger, Challenge of the Yukon and The Green Hornet. His later cartoon credits include his being the first voice of Gumby and the first voice of Davey on the Davey & Goliath cartoon series. He was a loyal team member on the Roger Ramjet cartoon show and was heard throughout many Hanna-Barbera shows.

But his main line of work was commercials and he did thousands of them. His best remembered ones were probably the many he did for the Alka-Seltzer people as their mascot, Speedy Alka-Seltzer. Below, I've embedded a film of three of them, all with Buster Keaton. (And by the way: Was there ever a man who looked more like he needed an antacid than Buster Keaton?)

I worked with Dick a few times, the first being on the Richie Rich cartoon show where he voiced Richie's rival, the stuck-up rich kid named Reggie. Dick was always highly professional, showing up for recording sessions in a suit and tie, and carrying an attaché case. No one else ever wears a suit and tie to record cartoon voices and for a while, I didn't quite understand why Dick did. I finally decided it was his way of reminding everyone that he was an adult and not a little boy.

His last few years, he was a much-sought-after guest at Old Time Radio conventions and other such events. He was always surrounded by fans because he sure had a lot of them. I was one too and tonight, we're all sad to learn of his passing.