Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ypsilanti's Hutchinson House Built with S&H Green Stamp Fortune

In 1896, Thomas A. Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson went into the S&H Green Stamp business together. The New York Times business section described this newly formed company "the first independent trading stamp company to distribute stamps and books to merchants."

Not much is known about Mr. Sperry. He was an Easterner. His home was destroyed by fire in 1912, with damages estimated to be $150,000. He was an avid art collector and a number of valuable paintings went up in flames. A year later, Sperry contracted ptomaine poisoning on a return ocean cruise from Europe. When he returned to the United States, he was so ill he couldn't travel to his home in Cranford, New Jersey. He was forty-nine years old when he died.

Sperry's brother, William Miller Sperry, inherited his brother's business interests and gained control of the company. In 1921, Shelley Hutchinson sued the estate of Thomas A. Sperry alleging that Sperry defrauded him of his full share of dividends to the tune of $5,000,000. Secret funds were diverted from company funds to Sperry. Hutchinson won the suit. The founders' family successors sold the franchise in 1981.


Much more in known about Shelley Hutchinson. His grandparents were among the first settlers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, still little more than a frontier outpost. Shelley's father Stephen Hutchinson married Loretta Jaycox on November 26, 1862. Shelley was born two years later in a log cabin in Superior Township on October 19, 1864. From 1874 until 1894, the Hutchinsons lived in a four room wood frame house at 509 N. River Street, across the street from the Champlain mansion. As a kid, he attended the Union School through the eighth grade--a typical education for a nineteenth-century boy.

Shelley was ambitious and intelligent. While working at a family shoe business with his father and brother in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the 1880s, he conjured up the idea for a trading stamp business he could promote to merchants as a customer retention program. On a small scale, the idea was promising, so a regional headquarters was established in Jackson, Michigan, chosen for its central location between the state's eastern and western borders.

Three years later, Hutchinson met Sperry in New York--an Easterner with money and business connections. Soon after they went into business, stamp redemption centers sprung up in many of Michigan's major cities. With early success, the promotion was expanded eventually growing into a nationwide coast-to-coast business concern. Sperry and Hutchinson made money hand over fist.

Shelley Hutchinson met Clara Unsinger, who was a stenographer in the company. Clara was the granddaughter of an Ypsilanti deacon. They were married on April 27, 1894. By the turn of the century, Hutchinson had amassed enough money to build his dream house. He considered building in New York, but his father urged him to build in Ypsilanti to be reunited with family and friends.

Feeling a boyhood affinity for the area, Hutchinson decided to build his thirty-room Richardsonian Revival mansion across the street from where he grew up--the site of the deteriorating Champlain mansion on the corner of North River and East Forest streets. Construction began in 1902 and was completed in 1904. Hutchinson called his mansion Casa Loma--Spanish for house on the hill. The site was believed to be Ypsilanti's highest point--on the east side anyway. He moved in with his wife, three children, parents, and brothers and sisters.

See the link below for more views of the house.

Building his mansion on Ypsilanti's east side was a social mistake for the wealthy millionaire. The Huron River was the town's dividing line. The east side was the working class neighborhood, and the west side was primarily for the wealthy and social elite. Hutchinson was never accepted into Ypsilanti high society because he was "new money" and shunned the "old money" denizens. He and his wife Clara rode around town in a fine phaeton carriage with matching horses. The newly rich pair wore only the finest clothes, and the "Stamp King" wore a silk top hat. During the height of his success, Hutchinson bought diamonds by the pocketful from Tiffany's in New York.

In an early undated Ypsilanti Daily Press article, the reporter wrote a "rags to riches" story about Hutchinson. Quoting merchant A.A. Bedell, "Hutchinson was always immaculate in dress, dark haired and handsome. One day, he stood in (my shoe store in Depot Town) and a shaft of light struck his diamonds, a glittering array. He had half-caret diamonds in each cuff link and wore two diamond rings, one of three carets and one between seven and eight. His shirt stud had a three and a half-caret stone." People said when Hutchinson walked in the sunshine, he sparkled.

But the domestic situation at Casa Loma was less than stellar. The Detroit News reported on July 3, 1906, that Mrs. Hutchinson deserted "the mansion on the hill" in anger taking her three children with her to live with neighbors across the street at 629 N. River Street. Clara had had it with her Hutchinson in laws and complained to the reporter that she was forced from her home penniless--except for some diamonds she left with. Hutchinson's father and sister publicly claimed they wished Clara would return to manage the place. As for her husband, Shelley retreated and went south for his health. The domestic situation was intolerable for him too.

As the story goes, Shelley had been gravely ill and entrusted his wife with his diamonds. Upon recovery, he asked for them back. Clara refused saying he gave them to her. She hid the diamonds away, but while she was sleeping one night, her husband found her hiding place. Shelley locked the diamonds in a tin box and placed them in his roll-top desk in his locked home office. Two could play at that game. Clara took her husband's key and unlocked the office door. After a brief search, she found the tin box and opened it with a can opener. Then she left the mansion taking her children.

The Ypsilanti Daily Press reported on January 14, 1910, that a divorce was granted giving Clara custody of the three children, $9,000 cash paid out over five years, and her husband's diamonds. She sold the largest one to a neighbor and the rest to a diamond broker in Detroit. In 1912, Hutchinson's mansion was sold at public auction to the Ypsilanti Savings Bank to satisfy an unpaid mortgage and back taxes. The home is now used for a commercial property and houses several businesses.

In an Ypsilanti Press interview in 1955, the ninety-one-year-old Hutchinson was living in New York. He was quoted as saying, "Some of the people (in Ypsilanti) were jealous of me because of the big house, but they had no reason to be. I was good to everybody." Shelley Hutchinson returned to Ypsilanti one last time time in 1961 for burial in a family plot at Highland Cemetery--several blocks north of his mansion. He was ninety-seven.


Most people in Ypsilanti are familiar with the outside of the Hutchinson House but have never seen the interior. Check out this link to see just how extravagant it is. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjb4photos/sets/72157622572604360/

For more detailed information about the Hutchinson family, read Janice Anschuetz's article "River Street Neighbor's Gossip and the Hutchinson Marriage," which appeared in the Ypsilanti Historical Society's September 27, 2010, newsletter Ypsilanti Gleanings. http://ypsigleanings.aadl.org/ypsigleanings/37044

Saturday, December 1, 2018

S&H Green Stamps--Emblem of a Bygone Age

Sperry and Hutchinson Company were the originators of S&H Green Stamps--as much an American cultural icon as anything. The company began offering redemption stamps to American retailers in 1896. Stores bought the stamps and offered them as bonuses based on the dollar amount of the purchase. S&H Green Stamps was the earliest retail customer loyalty program selling and distributing stamps and books to merchants. With a unidirectional cash flow, this shoppers' incentive made its originators multi-millionaires.

Stamps were issued in denominations of 1, 10, and 50 points. Stamp pages were perforated with glue on the reverse side to mount in twenty-four page collector booklets. Each booklet contained 1,200 points. Reward gifts were based on the number of filled books required to obtain the object. Green Stamps had no real cash value.

S&H Green Stamps could be obtained at supermarkets, department stores, and gas stations. Completed booklets could be redeemed at one of 800 distribution centers located around the country. Most popular in the early 1960s, S&H boasted that its reward catalog was the largest publication in the United States. They issued three times more stamps than did the United States Postal Service.

Economic recessions in the 1970s reduced sales and decreased the value of the rewards. Shoppers began to see the stamps as not worth the trouble, and stores started to drop the program. In 1981, the founders' successors sold the business.

Green Stamps entered the realm of pop art iconography when Andy Warhol used a three step silkscreen process to print a 23"x22.75" canvas in 1962. Three years later, he used offset lithography to print the classic green stamp images on forty-nine 7'x7' panels to act as wallpaper within a gallery exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Philadelphia. A single panel recently sold at auction for $6,250.


S&H Green Stamp founders Thomas Sperry and Shelly Byron Hutchinson are the subject of my next post. Hutchinson was from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and became the town's richest self-made man.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lunch With Soupy Sales in Detroit

Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina. His father Irving Supman immigrated to America from Hungary in 1894. He was a Jewish dry goods merchant. Later in life, Soupy would quip that the local Ku Klux Klan bought their sheets from his father's store. Milton's nickname came from his family. His older brothers were dubbed "Ham Bone" and "Chicken Bone." The youngest son was "Soup Bone." Milton (Soupy) Supman enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the South Pacific. After the war, he earned a Master's degree in journalism. His oldest brother had become a doctor, and his other brother became a lawyer. Soupy had little choice but to go into show business.

After graduation, Soupy worked as a morning DJ and performed a comedy act in nightclubs. In 1949, Soupy Sales began his television career on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati with "Soupy's Soda Shop," television's first teen dance program. The show was cancelled after a year. Soupy moved to Cleveland and did a late night comedy/variety program called "Soupy's On!" where he took his first pie in the face which became his trademark. After a couple of seasons, Soupy left Cleveland for health reasons. "The station manager was sick of me," he quipped.

In 1953, Soupy Sales relocated to Detroit and worked for WXYZ-TV Channel 7, the local ABC station. Soupy not only had the Lunch With Soupy program, he also hosted a Friday evening variety show called Soup's On, which featured musicians and jazz performers who were working one of the twenty-four jazz clubs operating in the Paradise Valley entertainment district in old Detroit. Top performers like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Della Reese, Dinah Washington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis, to name a few, made guest appearances on Soupy's show. After an appearance, jazz artists would regularly sell out their venues.

Lunch With Soupy had a fixed-set of a kitchen with a window and a table and chair to the left and a door center stage in the background that would interrupt Soupy mid-sentence with frantic knocking. Naturally Soupy would stop and answer the door. Usually, Soupy would play against only an arm and a voice appearing from the door jam.

Soupy wore a dark Orlon sweater, a white shirt with an oversized checkerboard bow tie, and a beat up top hat. Besides the pie-in-the-face running slapstick gag, Soupy was know for the Soupy Shuffle (his signature dance) and his Words of Wisdom like, "Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you."

Pookie the Lion and Hippy the Hippo
If it was noon in Detroit and you were planted in front of a television set with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and Soupy was on, you knew you were in for a good time. Regulars on the show were hand puppets Soupy interacted with. Soupy was the straight man for voice artist Clyde Adler who did the off-stage puppeteering and voice characterizations. The show's favorite puppets were:
  • White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA." He appeared from the left corner of the screen only as a giant white shaggy arm and paw with black triangular claws. Fang spoke in unrecognizable grunts and growls which Soupy repeated in English for comic effect. White Fang often threw the pies when Soup's jokes bombed.
  • Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA." She had a black shaggy arm and paw with white triangular claws. She had feminine grunts and groans, and always flirted with Soupy. Her trademark move was pulling Soupy off-camera and giving him big, noisy kisses.
  • Pookie the Lion appeared on the ledge of the window behind Soupy. Pookie was a hipster with a wicked wit. He lip synced novelty records or prerecorded bits. My favorite memory of Pookie was a routine called "Life Got You Down, Bunky?" It was a pep talk he gave Soupy every time Soupy complained about feeling blue. Comically, it was inspirational.
  • Willie the Worm, a latex accordion worm that popped in and out of an apple. Willie was known as "the sickest worm in all of Dee-troit." Willie had a perennial cold and an exaggerated sneeze. He read birthday greetings to Detroit-area kids. Sadly, Willie's health failed him. He did not survive the show's move to the Big Apple in 1964.
When Soupy took his show to WNEW-TV in New York City, it went into national syndication. This was the height of Soupy's popularity. His guest stars included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis. 

Soupy doing the Mouse dance

On New Years Day in 1965, to fill a few extra moments at the end of the show, Soupy made an off-the-cuff remark to the kids in his television audience. He suggested they go into their parents' rooms, find their parents' wallets, and take out the green pieces of paper with pictures of bearded guys and mail them to him. In return, Soupy said he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico. The show was aired live and no transcripts or videotapes exist, so the exact language he used is not known.

Soupy's remark was an ad-libbed gag not meant to be taken literally, but an angry parent filed a complaint with the FCC. The way the press reported the story, it sounded like this was the biggest heist since the Brink's robbery. Some adults were livid that a TV personality would manipulate children for commercial gain.

Show business legend has it that the prank netted some $80,000. Soupy revealed publicly that he netted only a few real dollars which he donated to charity--the rest was fake money.

The station suspended Soupy. The outcry from Soupy's fans swamped the station's switchboards and packed their mail room with demands that Soupy be reinstated. Within a week, his suspension was lifted. Soupy worked for two more seasons before he gave up the top hat and bow tie and moved to Hollywood to become a panelist on many game shows including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Match Game, The Gong Show, and Hollywood Squares in the 70s and 80s.

Milton (Soupy Sales) Supman died of cancer October 22, 2009, at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx. He was eighty-three years old. Soupy Sales is best remembered by his many fans for his trademark pie-in-the-face gag, but in the comedy world, Soupy is remembered for his inventive, anarchic brand of riotous, television comedy. 

 Soupy and Pookie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB8e_uRzhMU

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Las Vegas Mob Museum

Al Capone--CEO of the Chicago Organization from 1925-1931.

The Mob Museum in Las Vegas is a must-see destination for anyone who wants to understand the extent of underworld influence in the United States. Every dollar spent on consumer products and/or services in America has a hidden mob tax built into it. The cost of hijacking, extortion, labor racketeering, theft, payoffs, protection, and influence peddling are all factored into the final price of doing business. The main reason the underworld exists is to make large amounts of tax-exempt money for its members who disdain holding a regular full-time job where people have to work for a living. Gangsters consider working people "suckers."

National and international crime organizations have woven their way into the fabric of our economy, our law enforcement agencies, and our hallowed halls of government. When politicians take campaign money from lobbyists--over and under the table--it is given with the understanding that the government official will vote in a certain way on their issues. The underworld considers these people "stooges."

Politicians roundly deny it, but they are addicted to the life blood of politics--dirty money. When we hear about the "deep state," organized crime should be its synonym. "We're even bigger than U.S. Steel," boasted racketeer Meyer Lanksy before government officials.

The Mob Museum at 300 Stewart Avenue in Downtown Las Vegas.

My wife and I enjoyed our visit to the Mob Museum. We saw a ten foot section of the actual St. Valentine's Day Massacre wall, replete with bullet holes and many other gangland artifacts including a Thompson machine gun. The museum also offers two interactive law enforcement workshops.

The first workshop was on use of force. We were outfitted with a police utility belt and a 9 mm firearm which shoots electronic impulses that sound and feel real. First, they checked us out on the use of the gun and police procedure, then we did a full-scale video simulation of a convenience store robbery. The goal was to make the thief drop his gun. I was slow on the trigger and the bad guy shot me.

Next, we had a simulation with a real person in a confined space. The guy had a gun and an indignant attitude. He turned and started running. My wife virtually shot him in the back. She felt terrible afterward; the pretend gunman gave her a dirty look which made her feel worse. Knowing when to shoot or not is a split second decision that could result in the death of a suspect or your death. What a sobering object lesson in use of force!

Fred "Killer" Burke on his way to Marquette Prison.
The other workshop was a crime lab where I used a stereo microscope to match crime bullets with test bullets--the science of ballistics. That was right up my alley as I was researching for my new book project on Detroit's Purple Gang.


The first scientific crime lab in America was established at the University of Chicago in response to the rampant mob warfare in Chicago and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in particular. Investigators were able to match the bullets from the St. Valentine's Massacre to test bullets fired from two Thompson machine guns belonging the Fred "Killer" Burke placing him at the scene. The same "choppers" were used in the assassination of New York mafioso Frankie Yale and the Milaflores Massacre in Detroit which cut down three men.


We also were able to do some DNA matching which doesn't help me on my current project but was fascinating nonetheless. I passed on the simulated cadaver investigation exhibit, but my wife--a former nurse--was all over it. I can recommend both workshops. The rest of the museum tells the narrative of organized crime in America and internationally.

Gangsters have fascinated Americans since the early 1930s when Hollywood produced the film Little Caesar with Edward G. Robinson, followed closely by Scarface with Paul Muni and real-life former gangster George Raft. Warner Brothers Pictures specialized in the crime genre that launched the careers of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Later actors to benefit from this public fascination with the mob are Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Al Pacino, and many others. With the advent of cable television, the popularity of crime films and true crime programming continues today and shows no signs of abating.

"I'm innocent. I didn't see nothin'."
America's first television event was the Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings in 1950. Most of America had never heard the word mafia before. Now, those lucky enough to own a television set were able to see the United States Congress question real-life gangsters. The homily, "Crime doesn't pay" was the government's mantra, but apparently many Americans never got the message. Corporate crime is alive and well.

https://fornology.blogspot.com/2018/02/kosher-nostra-detroits-purple-gang.html

Monday, November 12, 2018

Prohibition Loophole--Wine Bricks

Wine Brick

Once Prohibition became law on January 16, 1920, many wine producers in California got out of the wine business and converted their vineyards to orchards or sold their land. A constitutional amendment had never been repealed before, so the drastic move seemed like a reasonable way to cut their losses.

But other vintners began to promote and sell grape juice and other non-alcoholic products. Some enterprising vintners began producing non-alcoholic wine bricks. The compressed and concentrated brick was to be rehydrated with one gallon of water to make reconstituted grape juice.

The Volstead Act made it against the law to produce, distribute, or sell alcohol products. But the law had a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. Under Section 29 of Volstead Act, consumption of alcohol was not expressly prohibited. Up to 200 gallons could be produced privately for consumption at home.

To protect themselves from breaking federal Prohibition laws, vintners printed a disclaimer on their packaging. They warned consumers not to place their grape juice in a cool, dark spot for twenty-one days, or add yeast lest it convert to wine. That the products were labeled Claret, Port, Muscatel, Burgundy, and Riesling underscored the intended use of the product.



Wine was culturally the drink of choice for many Italian and French Americans and wine bricks became a legitimate business opportunity for Chicago and Detroit racketeers acting as distributors. They cornered the market. The underworld began buying the bricks by the ton and distributing them nationwide by rail. The pre-Prohibition price was $9.50 per ton; by 1924, the price was $375.

The wine brick trade became big business and was one of the Detroit's Purple Gang controlled rackets. It was a factor that played into the Collingwood Manor Massacre of 1931. Three leaders of the Little Jewish Navy gang were lured to an apartment with the promise that the Purple Gang would give them the wine brick concession for the customary kickbacks. Instead, Izzy Sutker, Joe Leibowitz, and Hymie Paul got paid off in lead for trying to muscle in on Purple Gang territory. 



In 1933, the Volstead Act was repealed and America went wet. The bottom fell out of the bootlegging business and the thirteen-year-long nightmare of gang warfare on America's streets ended. Those winery owners who weathered the storm and supplied organized crime with their raw material became rich, increased their landholdings, and saved America's wine industry.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Richard Streicher Jr. Murder--Literary Classics Book Award Finalist


I'm pleased to announce that The Richard Streicher Jr. Murder--Wheatmark Inc. was chosen a finalist in Literary Classics 2018 Book Awards. Among other finalists is Arlo Guthrie for his book Monsters--Rising Son International, Ltd.

Gold, Silver, and Top Honor awards will be awarded from the field of finalists in a range of fiction and nonfiction categories on November 15th. Winners will be invited to a reception held in Rapid City, South Dakota in May. I look forward to attending the writers conference, awards ceremony, formal gala, and book signing.

The Richard Streicher Jr. Murder was intended to be a legacy project for the Ypsilanti Historical Society. I'm very surprised my true crime title has been singled out for this important international award.

NEWS RELEASE

Release Date: November 1, 2018

Literary Classics

pr@clcawards.org

Literary Classics Announces Youth Media Book Award Finalists



Rapid City, SD - The 2018 Literary Classics Book Award Finalists and Top Honors Book Awards Finalists have been announced. Selected from submissions by entrants around the globe, these distinguished honorees are recognized for their contributions to the craft of writing, illustrating, and publishing exceptional literature for a youth audience. In this highly competitive industry these books represent the foremost in literature in their respective categories.


The competition this year was tremendous, and we congratulate all of the finalists for their outstanding and inspiring work. Final award levels and categories will be announced November 15, 2018. All Silver, Gold and Top Honors award recipients will be invited to attend a writers’ conference, awards ceremony, formal gala, and authors’ book signing to be held in conjunction with the Great American Book Festival, May 10, 11 and 12, 2019 in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota.


The Literary Classics selection committee is proud to recognize this year’s titles in literature which exemplify the criteria set forth by the Literary Classics award selection committee. The Eighth Annual Literary Classics Book Awards will be presented in May, 2019 in conjunction with the Great American Book Festival in the City of Presidents.

Richard Streicher Jr. school friend remembers him: https://fornology.blogspot.com/2018/07/richard-streicher-jr-school-friend.html

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Detroit's Movie Maven--Bill Kennedy


Bill Kennedy at the Movies with Sir Graves Ghastly. Sir Graves would riff on his monster movies and Bill would dish on Hollywood and the movie business.

Every Baby-Boomer from Detroit and Windsor remembers who gave us our extensive Hollywood movie education--Bill Kennedy. Bill started announcing on the radio professionally in the 1930s at WWJ - The Detroit News station. His deep voice resonated over the air waves.

In 1940, he embarked on a movie career and signed a contract with Warner Brothers Studios where he worked from 1941 until 1955. Bill had the voice but not the face. He didn't emote well on screen, so he was relegated to a series of flat supporting roles. He played mainly cops, bad guys, radio announcers (no stretch for Bill), newspaper men, and swindlers. In all, Bill Kennedy has 103 film credits.

In the post World War Two era, Kennedy appeared on numerous B-Western television shows including The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, and The Gene Autry Show. Kennedy always spoke kindly of Gene Autry. Bill was over six feet tall and many of Hollywood's leading men were short and didn't like doing fight scenes with him. Gene Autry was short, but always had a job for Bill when he needed it. Autry told him once, "I like beating up bad guys on screen who are bigger than me."

Bill Kennedy playing a newscaster in a Superman episode.

What many of us in Detroit know that most people don't is Bill's was the voice behind the opening credits of  The Adventures of Superman--one of the most iconic introductions in television history. Bill received a one-time check for $350. He regretted not asking for screen credit which might have benefited his career. The show has been continuously running in syndication since 1952. A link to the Superman program opening is below.

In 1956, Bill Kennedy returned to the Detroit area to host an afternoon movie program called Bill Kennedy's Showtime, for CKLW-TV across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. The show became a big hit. Bill talked about his jaded experiences in Hollywood's heyday and how he worked with many of the top stars. His deadpan delivery and sarcastic wit won the loyalty of viewers. He had an avuncular, self-deprecating manner--especially if talking about a film he was in. If the movie was bad, he would tell his audience.

The show opened with a tight shot on a picture of a woman smoking a cigarette with Bill's theme song Just in Time playing in the background. The photograph was from a magazine. I can see the model in my mind's eye with her elbows on a table and a smoldering cigarette in her right hand. Bill chose Just In Time for his theme song because his professional life was at a low point when he got the job with CKLW.


Bill wearing a hat to cover up his hair transplant surgery.
In 1969, Bill took his show to WKBD which broadcast out of Southfield, Michigan. The show remained essentially the same with a title change to Bill Kennedy at the Movies. Bill would interview celebrities when they were in Detroit and he took on-air phone calls which were sometimes more interesting than the movies. I enjoyed the live TV commercial pitches of Abe Schroe for his furniture upholstery business.

Abe and Bill always had lively repartee like they knew each other well outside of work. These two got along so well on air that it strikes me Bill was probably part-owner or an investor in Artistic Upholstery. Bill would take a break and Abe would go into his pitch. Nobody else made live commercials on Bill's show--not Ollie Fretter--not even Mr. Belvedere (Detroit inside joke).

In 1983, Bill retired to Palm Beach, Florida. He died of emphysema on January 27, 1997, at the age of eighty-eight. Rest in peace "young, old-timer."

The Adventures of Superman introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2l4bz1FT8U

Bill Kennedy's theme song Just In Time by Frank Sinatra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIcQ26arWAs