Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bye Bye Booby Beaver (Herb Graham z"l)

I wrote this short eulogy for a memorial service  that took place in Chicago today for Herb Graham - a man with whom I was fortunate enough to work when I was my kids' age. In addition to being the voice of United Airlines, Sears, Statefarm Insurance and the Obama Campaign, he also donated his incredible talents for community service. Many of us who grew up in Chicago remember him as the voice of Booby Beaver on the CBS television program, The Magic Door. That was where I met him........ Here is one of his obituaries from the Chicago Sun Times.
Herb Graham was a remarkable man - in so many ways. We all remember the tenor of his voice - that remarkable instrument that could inspire you with its gravitas, soothe you with its smoothness or convince you to vote for any candidate. But Herb was more than a voice. His talent was a reflection of the depth of his soul, not the vibration of his vocal chords.
I only knew Herb for a short time - 3 years - when, as a college student, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to play the role of Tiny Tov on the WBBM television show, "The Magic Door." Herb was the voice of Booby Beaver - a loveable, mischievous rodent puppet who served as a center of chaos in almost every episode. Herb was one member of a remarkable cast of professional actors, puppeteers and voice over artists who basically donated their time to this long-running Chicago TV institution. I was the young kid with a guitar and green tights who was dropped in their midst.
What I remember most about Herb was his calming presence and his wicked sense of humor. He was incredibly supportive of me. From day one, he welcomed me, calmed my nerves and taught me how to be a professional.
One of the most powerful memories I have is how, during the run-through rehearsals that would take place at the beginning of each taping of the show, Herb and other cast members would riff on the script. You cannot imagine the liberties that they would take with their lines. WE would laugh until we cried. Now remember - I not only played the role of Tiny Tov - I grew up watching him and the Magic Door as a young child in Chicago. Hearing Herb spewing raunchy double entendres in Booby's voice during rehearsals was amazing.
I never heard him say a negative word about anyone. Herb Graham made me feel like part of a family - and this is truly who we were.
In Jewish tradition, when someone has died we say: 'Zaycher Tzaddik Livracha" - may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.
Shalom Herb - you will be missed!

1 comment:

  1. I remember Booby Beaver with such fondness, wish there were videos of him. Thank you for this.