Robert Q. Lewis; Guest Host, Panelist on Radio, Early TV
Robert Q. Lewis, early television’s perennial guest host and panelist with the horn-rimmed glasses, died Wednesday. He was 71.
Lewis, who had no survivors, died in Century City Hospital of emphysema, long-time friend Penny Bigelow said late Wednesday.
A veteran of radio, the witty Lewis won wide recognition in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a frequent substitute or summer replacement for such television icons as Arthur Godfrey, Dave Garroway, Garry Moore and Jack Paar. He even filled in for the human third of “Kukla, Fran and Ollie.”
Adept at game and panel shows as well as variety programs, Lewis was also host of his own shows, such as “The Name’s the Same.”
Lewis kept his hand in acting by appearing in nightclub shows in Las Vegas, and helped boost his national exposure by going on the lecture circuit.
When his popularity as a television host faded, Lewis returned to radio in Los Angeles. He was hired by KHJ as a disc jockey in 1962.
“My kind of (television) show--the informal, anything-goes daytime thing--is in disrepute since filmed syndication took over, and it’s affected all of us--Godfrey, Moore,” he said then.
“All of us are radio babies,” he said. “We gripe, but we’re never happier than when we’re on the air every day projecting our own self-idolized images.”
After a few years, he tired of dealing with so many commercials and went back to what he called “panelizing” and what was, for him, serious acting.
“Look,” an animated Lewis told The Times in 1966, “I become an entirely different person--even to me--without my glasses. With them on, I just feel like a sweet, average guy, but when I take them off, I’m no longer Robert Q. Lewis. I become, well, sort of a Jewish Victor Jory.
“These glasses have always been my trademark,” he said. “That’s why it’s so much fun to work without them.”
Lewis landed acting roles on such television series as “Slattery’s People,” “Branded,” “Camp Runamuck” and “The Bob Hope Theater.”
He also worked in the film version of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
“I soon found out that some producers didn’t know if I have legs or not,” he said in Hollywood, “because they’d always seen me behind a desk on those panel shows.”
In 1972, Lewis was signed by KFI to do a daily 90-minute music and variety program.
Memorial services are planned for 3 p.m. Friday in Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Burbank.