February 20, 2015 at 1:41 am #6994
Today February 20, 1919 Richard Lewis “Dick” Wesson was born in Shoshone, Idaho to Juanita Fern (Shaff) and John E. Wesson. In the 1920’s the Wesson family moved to Boise, Idaho. By 1940 Dick was living in Oakland, California.
On June 29, 1941 Richard Lewis Wesson, 22, married 19 year old Mary Evelyn (Peirce) in Reno, Nevada. On March 20, 1942 Dick Wesson enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the European theater during World War II. On May 22, 1942 Dick & Evelyn welcomed their son Richard Lewis Wesson II. In June 1946 with Dick recently discharged from the Army, was doing the all-night program on KALE Portland, Oregon, playing records.
On September 31, 1946 Richard Lewis Wesson, 27, married 18 year old Betty Maxine Ross in Portland. Fred Eichhorn was best man (KXL DJ, later PD) and Charlie La Franchise was one of the ushers (KALE DJ, later KPTV). On June 6, 1948 KALE changed its call letters to KPOJ. By April 1949 Dick was delivering the 11:45am news for 15 minutes on KPOJ. On February 21, 1950 Wesson was one of the narrators on the KPOJ special “Invisible Walls” produced for the Mutual Network.
By May 1953 Dick was the head of the mail room at KECA, the ABC owned radio station in Los Angeles, promoted to Summer replacement announcer for the “ABC Radio Workshop” network program. On February 1, 1954 KECA radio changed its call letters to KABC. In 1954 Wesson began as an announcer for “Space Patrol” the (KEX) ABC Radio show version.
On October 27, 1954 the (KOIN-TV) ABC “Disneyland” TV series made its debut. Dick Wesson did the opening announcement and the introduction of Walt Disney each week. Dick was the announcer/narrator for all Disney movie trailers customarily shown at the end of Disney programs, up until the late 1970s. These would include re-releases of Disney classics, as well as new Disney motion pictures. Wesson had a rich, distinctive, booming speaking voice, ideal for movie trailers.
On September 12, 1958 “Walt Disney Presents” became the new (KGW-TV) ABC-TV series title but Dick Wesson continued his role as Walt Disney’s announcer. On October 7, 1959 the “Hawaiian Eye” TV series debuted on (KPTV) ABC and Dick Wessen was the opening announcer.
On September 17, 1961 “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” was the title of new (KGW-TV) NBC series and Dick continuing as Walt Disney’s announcer. On October 3, 1961 the (KPTV) ABC-TV series “The New Breed” made its debut with Dick Wesson as announcer. On March 10, 1963 Dick’s son Richard Lewis Wesson II died at age 20 in Japan while on route home from serving in the U.S. Navy.
On September 17, 1963 “The Fugitive” (KPTV) ABC-TV series debuted with Dick Wesson announcing the opening credits. On September 18, 1964 the (KATU) ABC-TV series “12 o’clock HIGH” debuted with Dick announcing. On September 8, 1966 “That Girl” debuted on (KATU) ABC Television with Wesson announcing.
On January 10, 1967 “The Invaders” made it dubut on (KATU) ABC-TV with Dick Wesson, announcer. On September 14, 1969 “The Wonderful World of Disney” became the new (KGW-TV) NBC-TV series title and Dick Wesson continued as opening announcer to 1979.
On January 27, 1979 Dick Wesson took his life with a gunshot, while battling cancer in Costa Mesa, California. He was 59 years old.
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.
References: Broadcasting magazine, The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows, The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, IMDb, The Oregonian, OTRRpedia, This Day In Network Radio, Wikipedia.March 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm #7493
Dick Wesson was my grandfather and my grandmother was Mary Peirce. He is usually confused with another Dick Wesson who was a character actor born around the same time.
My sister and I were both radio djs in the 1990’s, and my mother (his daughter by Mary) and I are both singers. The
apples don’t fall far from that tree.
Teri HagenMarch 2, 2015 at 11:12 pm #7522
“On May 22, 1942 Dick & Evelyn welcomed their son Richard Lewis Wesson II….On September 31, 1946 Richard Lewis Wesson, 27, married 18 year old Betty Maxine Ross in Portland.” Then, from Teri Hagen’s post: “…my mother (his daughter by Mary…” It looks like we missed an offspring somehow.March 6, 2015 at 12:30 am #7672
Teri Hagan: Thanks for Posting!
Semoochie: As Teri mentioned “He is usually confused with another Dick Wesson who was a character actor.” Teri is so right! It was very confusing so I took extra care to make sure I didn’t confuse the two.
There wasn’t a lot written about Dick in Portland from “The Oregonian” newspaper, since he was just beginning his career and Dick was working for KALE/KPOJ owned by competing newspaper “The Oregon Journal” which is not available on-line.
Researching the 2nd marriage, Joel Miller, who helps me with research found no information on that marriage ever happening, yet “The Oregonian” covered it.
Since the siblings were not born in Portland, it makes it harder to find information on them. Brothers and sisters can get lost in the shuffle.March 23, 2015 at 10:31 pm #8419
Woops! Sorry. Seems my research was in error. This Dick Wesson is no relation after all.March 23, 2015 at 11:28 pm #8423
It looks like I had a forced “Emily Latella” moment. 🙂January 20, 2019 at 12:33 pm #40766
I know this is several years old but to clear up some confusion – Dick Wesson (the announcer) was my father. He married my mother, Barbara Epstein, in 1956, and I was born in 1957. My mother divorced Dick when I was about 3 years old, and she eventually remarried.
The funny thing is that my father lived a few houses away from the other Dick Wesson, and I was friends with his kids when I was very young.
Hope that helps!January 21, 2019 at 1:20 am #40769
“Dick Wesson was my grandfather and my grandmother was Mary Peirce.” I don’t know how I skipped right over this in 2015 but are you talking about Mary Pierce, the KKEY talk show host, with whom I worked for 16 years? That would make him “the great man”.
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