August 13, 2004 by

Jackson Beck


Categories: Actors

Jackson Beck, a veteran voice of radio and television, died on July 28. Cause of death was not released. He was 92.
The New York City native was the son of Broadway and silent film actor Max Beck. After working as a runner for the New York Stock Exchange, he launched his broadcasting career in 1931. For the next seven decades, Beck used his voice to sell everything from toothpaste and cereal to roach killer and paper towels.
On the radio, he played a variety of roles, including detective Philo Vance and western hero The Cisco Kid. Beck portrayed the character of Bluto in more than 300 “Popeye” cartoons, narrated the “G.I. Joe” TV show and did voice-over work on two Woody Allen films (“Radio Days,” “Take the Money and Run”). During World War II, he impersonated Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and other political leaders on the “The March of Time” radio show, which offered re-enactments of news stories from Time magazine.
But Beck was best known for introducing the Man of Steel with the thrilling words: “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” He narrated “The Adventures of Superman” on the radio from 1943 to 1950, and the “Superman” cartoon on TV through the late-1960s.
Beck was a founding member of the American Federation of Radio Artists, which later became the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In the final years of his life, he helped re-enact classic radio shows at the annual Friends of Old-Time Radio convention in Newark, N.J.

5 Responses to Jackson Beck

  1. Paul McPherson

    I’ll always remember him as the voice of Bluto. Lately I’ve been listening to some of his work on Stan Freiberg’s “When Radio Was.” He was terrific and will be missed.

  2. Ken

    Having just bought a number of Popeye cartoons on DVD, I tripped over this while doing a Google search for Jackson Beck, on a whim. I met him about 15 years ago at a bar-mitzvah. I didn’t know he passed on. His talent certainly leaves behind a rich history.

  3. Donald Janney

    I’m very saddened to hear of Jackson’s passing. I stumbled over this by chance. I have many childhood memories of him with my father, Leon. They worked together, and were best of friends. Jackson gave me my first set of golf clubs when I was 10. As a kid, I became very interested in animation thanks to him.I used to describe Jackson to my friends as looking like Bluto with glasses and without the beard.

  4. Miles Neff

    I’m fortunate to make a living doing voice-overs on TV and Radio, but I always knew who the BEST in the business was, and that was Jackson Beck. He helped start the union that protects me, gives me health care and a pension. He was not only the voice of the above mentioned shows, but also a tremendous voice talent on NBC’s “Underdog Show” and many others. He voiced many memorable 60’s commercials for toys like Topper’s “Johnny Seven O.M.A. (the One Man Army)” and “Secret Sam”, and his exhortations to buy these great toys were irresistable!
    I always hoped that I would be able to meet him: sadly, I never will. But I’ll always remember the truly top voice in the business, Jackson Beck.

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