Last week I explained that Israel 'Jack' Shalek and wife, Sue, who lived for many years at the corner of Hillside and Academy, had 3 sons all uncommonly successful in life's endeavors. We discussed in the last issue of the Star-Herald the movie career of Biff and this week I'm highlighting the radio/TV career of his brother, Win.
Irwin Elliot Skalek, known famously as Win Elliot, was born in the Boston area in 1915. He was the only brother who actually never lived in Presque Isle. Before his parents moved to P.I. in 1939, Win was already attending the University of Michigan in the '30's preparing for a career in zoology. Win's father had been an avid sports fan (also played semi-pro ball) and took his son to many of the Red Sox, Bruins, Braves, and Harvard games. In fact, when the Bruins played their first game in Boston Garden in 1928, Win and his father were there.
So, when Win attended the University of Michigan, his 'sports career' continued as he played goalie for the university team.
The turning point in Win's career came when he was required to take a speech class, although his major was in zoology. He talked about his association with his father and sports. Apparently his delivery was so good, so moving, that his teacher at that time encouraged Win to seek a career in then fledging radio and specifically sports broadcasting. The heeded advice started Win on a spectacular, 50 year career in radio and TV.
His first big break came when he was headed for Detroit looking for a job in broadcasting. When his train stopped in Washington, he decided to get off and see the capital. While passing the NBC studio, he went upstairs and asked if he could apply for an announcer's job. Although the butt end of a joke in the studio, Win was so impressive, he landed the job. Shortly after, Win was hired to do news editing at a radio station in Baltimore where he developed his style of 'conversational news'. This style would become his trademark.
On radio, he anchored World Series games, both pre- and post-game shows and covered boxing and horse racing. He was awarded twice (1971 and 1976) the highly prestigious Eclipse Award given only to those who exhibit outstanding achievement in radio broadcasting.
Win began his TV career doing live sports out of Madison Square Garden and wound up doing a daily sports show for CBS covering a wide variety of events at the Garden. One day in the early '50's CBS approached him and asked if he'd like to host a TV variety show that would include various acts and entertainers. His response was that he didn't do jokes and said he simply couldn't and wouldn't do it. CBS eventually hired another guy named Ed Sullivan. It went on to become the 'Ed Sullivan Show. Such is life.
I remember Win in the '50's when often I'd see at the movies him hosting the 'Gillette Cavalcade of Sports' which he did for 14 years. He also covered televised New York Rangers games and traveled around the country with the team. Win retired from CBS in 1987 after a 50 year long, illustrious career in sports broadcasting. He always said that he had quite a career, never working a day in his life, seeing all those events and never having to pay. Win and Sue had 10 children and 17 grandkids. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 83.
In this week's issue we include a recent photo of Win's brother, Biff, along with his 1942 PIHS class picture. He's seen playing golf with one of his best buddies, Jack Lemmon. The included photo of Win was taken in the late '80's after his retirement.
We apologize for the misspelling of 'savvy in last week's issue.....a simple typographical error.
Next week's 'Forgotten Times' will highlight the Etscovitz family and its contribution to P.I.'s business environment in the '40's, '50's and into the '60's. As usual, if you'd like to comment on any past or future article, please e-mail me at RAG111@webtv.net......
last updated : April 27, 2011