Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Memorable Man

I know that this will be a surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love radio, especially its history. There are some old time radio shows that I really enjoy. About ten years ago, one of my favorite radio actors was to be the guest of honor at a dinner of the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound. Of course I wanted to go, but I wouldn’t know anyone there.

Not wanting to be late, I arrived at the restaurant about forty-five minutes early. I was told that the room was not ready yet but I could wait in the bar. As I entered the bar I saw a man in a suit, an unusual sight in Seattle. What was also unusual about this man was that he stood only four-and-a-half feet tall. I knew I was in the right place.

I must have looked like a fish out of water. This man walked up to me and asked, "Are you here for the PERS dinner?”

After I said that I was, He said, “Well that’s what I am here for, too. Hi, I’m Dick Beals.” I introduced myself and we talked for a few minutes.

I had never heard the name before, but I was to discover that I had heard that voice. Oh, had I heard that voice. Davey from “Davey and Goliath,” Gumby, Speedy Alka Seltzer. If you have ever heard a radio episode of Gunsmoke where there was a young boy, he was the young boy. He played boys in several radio episodes of Dragnet.

It is not his resume that made him memorable to me. What made him memorable was that he was a real, honest, gracious gentleman.  Later in the evening it was still obvious that I really didn’t know anyone in the room. Two hours after our brief conversation in the bar, after he made the keynote speech about the guest of honor, he came over to me and said, “Matt, are you having a good time?” Two hours later,  not only did he come over to see how I was doing, he remembered my name.

In the days following that dinner I found a copy of his autobiography on Amazon.  The book gave insight into what it was like to be a radio actor. The book also told how he managed a Little League team – a team of physically and mentally challenged players – and that team won their league championship. He would not allow anyone to intimidate or demean him. He would treat everyone with respect and expected the same in return. He earned that respect.

Dick Beals was an inspirational man. Even though he stood only four foot six, he stood tall. I only met him that one evening, but it was a memorable meeting for me.

Mr. Beals has passed away at the age of 85. Rest in peace, sir.


  1. Lovely post Matt. I felt as though I had met him myself.

    RIP indeed Mr. Beals.

  2. Matt, thank you for introducing us to Mr. Beals. I do indeed remember his voice! It's really neat that you had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him a little bit.

    He brought delight and enjoyment to many people, and from your account, his life was well-lived. Your tribute to him is wonderful.