July 23, 2015 at 12:17 am #12492Craig_AdamsParticipant
Today July 23, 1923 Ivan Allen Smith was born in Onarga, Illinois to Lela (Katon) and Earlie Edward Smith. Ivan’s birth date was placed in his obit by his wife of 55 years. Social Security reports the date as 7-29-23. Ivan had four older brothers: Lester E., Seth “Lee”, Glen M. and Kenneth Vernon. By 1932 the Smith family minus father Earlie had moved to Cornelius, Oregon.
On December 4, 1932 Ivan’s brother Lester E. Smith died at age 24 in Cornelius. Lester had just married Mattie R. Mann in Cornelius (10-29-32). On May 30, 1938 Ivan’s father Earlie Edward Smith died at age 57 in Bushnell, Nebraska. In 1935 Ivan moved to Salem but continued residence listing in Cornelius. By 1940 the Smith family was living on 7th Street in Cornelius. In 1941 Ivan Smith graduated from Salem High School. He briefly worked in the Portland shipyards, then joined the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII.
On February 21, 1943 Ivan Allen Smith, 19, married, 18 year old Thelma Martha Pells in Marquam, Oregon. At the time Ivan was living in Bonneville & Thelma in Portland. On December 2, 1943 Ivan & Thelma welcomed their first son David A. “Dave” Smith. At the time they were living in Nelscott.
In 1946 Ivan left the Coast Guard and began attending Oregon State College. He moved to Portland to be certified as a radio broadcaster at Multnomah College, acquiring a first class radio telephone operator license. On October 3, 1946 Ivan & Thelma welcomed their first daughter Deborah Lee “Debra” Smith.
On June 18, 1949 KMCM McMinnville signed on the air and Ivan Smith was part of the original team where he worked in sales, commercial writing, announcing & radio board operation. He supplemented his income by working as a projectionist at the Corral Drive-In Theatre. By December 1952 Ivan A. Smith was KMCM Program Director, before leaving in 1953. In Summer 1953 Ivan took a job as a radioman for the Umatilla National Forest and worked part-time as a deejay at KWRC in Pendleton. On August 14, 1953 Ivan’s mother Lela Smith died at age 68 in Hillsboro but was living in Cornelius.
By December 1953 Ivan Smith had joined KXL in Portland as a weekend disc jockey. By January 1955 Ivan was on KXL’s “The Tune Shop” program weekday afternoons from 4:00pm to sunset. On March 8, 1955 KXL announcer, Ivan Smith who was also a member of the Children’s Protective Association, addressed the Montavilla Kiwanis Club luncheon at Bob’s Drive-In, on legislation in regard to sexual deviates.
On March 12, 1955 it was announced Ivan Smith was now a KPTV staff announcer. At the time Ivan was best known to TV viewers as KPTV’s live commercial announcer for “Portland Wrestling” with host Bob McAnulty. Ivan once did an ad for an easy-open beer carton. He recalls with horror that he was unable to get the can out of the box.
On April 4, 1955 Ivan took over hosting the 5 minute Alka-Seltzer’s “Newspaper of The Air” on KPTV weeknights 6:25 to 6:30pm. “They gave me an office with a desk and phone underneath the stairway,” Smith recalled. “I had to buy my own camera, pay for my own film and do my own processing and I shot the film.”
On June 25, 1955 Ivan began hosting a new program called “KPTV Real Estate Classified” Saturday’s at 4:30pm. For $23.45 Smith would sell your outstanding home with a 45 second description of features in two photographs. By July 1955 Ivan Smith was named KPTV News Editor.
On January 10, 1956 “Newspaper of The Air” was replaced by “News Central”, a half hour of news weeknights at 6:00pm with Ivan Smith anchoring; (Tom) Lawson McCall, editorial comment; Hal Childs, sports & Gene Brendler, weather. “We used to use film for film’s sake lots of the time, not because of its news value but because it was pretty and visual,” Ivan said.
On May 20, 1956 it was announced Ivan & Thelma would adopt: Kim Yang Ja, a 4 year old Korean orphan. By this time the Smith’s were living in Lake Grove. On June 12, 1956 Kim arrived. They renamed her Ann Smith, becoming their 2nd daughter (Rebecca Ann Smith). By July 1956 Ivan Smith was named KPTV News Director.
On November 18, 1956 it was announced Ivan Smith had moved to the new KGW-TV and appointed Assistant News Director to Richard Ross. On December 3, 1956 Smith assumed duties at KGW-TV which hadn’t begun to telecast.
On December 17, 1956 Ivan Smith began co-anchoring KGW-TV’s “Newsbeat: at 6:30pm weeknights with Richard Ross; Tom McCall, News Analyst & Doug LaMear, sports. In addition Ivan anchored “Nightbeat” weeknights at 10:30pm. By March 1957 Ivan’s brother Glen Smith was heard weekends on KGAY in Salem to 1958. On June 10, 1957 Ivan’s brother Lee Smith joined KEX as their evening deejay until May 22, 1961.
On September 2, 1957 a highlight of Ivan’s career was his Portland Union Station video interview with “The King”, while disembarking the train for his Stadium concert. Here now is part of that interview:
Ivan: Elvis Presley. How Are You?
Elvis: Fine Sir. How Are You?
Ivan: Ivan Smith, representing ABC with KGW-TV. I’d like to welcome you to Portland.
Elvis: Thank You Very Much.
Ivan: Your concert tonight, how long a duration tonight will it be?
Elvis: The entire show will be two and a half hours. I think I’m on for 40 minutes.
Ivan: What songs are you going to hit?
Elvis: I’ll do practically all my songs.
Ivan: Which song do you think is your biggest right now?
Elvis: Don’t Be Cruel……………
On September 1, 1958 Portland Weather Bureau meteorologist Jack Capell officially joined KGW-TV’s Newsbeat, Nightbeat team. (Jack had worked for KGW-TV 2 or 3 days a week previous, maintaining his U.S. Weather Service position as a meteorologist). On April 27, 1959 “Night Beat” moved to 10:00pm. On May 1, 1959 “Night Beat” was telecast in color. By January 1959 Ivan Smith was named KGW-TV News Editor. On September 28, 1959 “Night Beat” moved to 11:00pm. On April 25, 1960 “News Beat” moved to 6:00pm.
On December 5, 1960 KGW-TV’s morning program “Telescope” began co-hosting Monday’s with Ivan Smith & Konnie Worth, plus “Cheri, the exercise girl.” By December 1961 the Smith’s were living at 2480 S.W. 83rd Ave.
On October 12, 1962 the Columbus Day Storm hit, knocking over the KGW-TV tower. Jack Capell, anchors Richard Ross and Ivan Smith crammed into the little KGW Radio booth and went to work. Their job was mostly rumor control. Power outages. Toppled buildings. Deaths. It was a nightmare keeping it all straight.
On April 15, 1963 Ivan Smith began teaching a broadcasting course with other media personalities at “Northwest Electronics Workshop” at 409 S.W. 13th Ave. On Friday July 2, 1965 Ivan Smith left “Night Beat” after the broadcast, to develop special news stories for KGW-TV on his own. On November 24, 1965 Ivan Smith began anchoring “News Break” weekdays at 12 Noon.
On September 19, 1966 Ivan left KGW-TV to become News Director of sister stations KREM, KREM-FM & KREM-TV Spokane. “This was a different world,” Smith recalled. “The TV station’s signal and cable connections put it into Canada on the North, Montana on the East and Lakeview, Ore., on the South.” Smith was doing assignments, producing and anchoring several news shows for both radio and TV. “It became too much for one man to do,” Ivan said.
On July 9, 1969 it was announced Ivan Smith would returned to KGW-TV’s “Night Beat.” On August 18, 1969 Ivan assumed the “Night Beat” anchor position. On February 20, 1970 Ivan left “Night Beat” after the broadcast, taking KGW-TV general assignments. On October 30, 1971 Smith began as narrator of a new KGW-TV public affairs program “Northwest Notebook” Saturday’s at 6:30pm. On January 17, 1972 KGW-TV “News Beat” & “Night Beat” were replaced by “Northwest Tonight.
In March 1972 Ivan returned to anchoring KGW-TV’s Noon news. On October 28, 1972 Ivan’s brother Seth “Lee” Smith died at age 63 in Cornelius. On May 6, 1974 Ivan began his seasonal special feature Backyard Vacations on “Northwest Tonight.” On January 22, 1979 Ivan Smith began anchoring three, five-minute news cut-ins on the “Today” show at 6:55am, 7:25am & 8:25am. On September 24, 1979 Kathy Smith joined Ivan Smith co-anchoring the Noon news.
On June 5, 1980 KGW-TV presented a special farewell broadcast for Ivan Smith during his Noon news. He had decided to retire after years of back pain from a traffic accident in 1961. Richard Ross came over from KATU to be on the program along with Doug LaMear, exchanging old stores of their pioneer days.
In 1981 Ivan & Thelma moved to the Oregon Coast and built a home at Depoe Bay, later relocating in Yachats, where Smith served on the City Council and the planning commission. On November 26, 1984 Ivan’s brother Kenneth Vernon Smith died at age 68 in Forest Grove. In 1993 Ivan & Thelma moved to Corvallis.
On May 8, 1998 Ivan Allen Smith died of cancer at 74 in his Corvallis home. Disposition was by cremation. Private interment at Miller Pioneer Cemetery in Silverton.
Jack Capell, remembered Smith best for his urbane dignity and soft touch on the air. “Ivan was a great newsman. He was very dignified, but he was also very warmhearted. As far as human interest stories, I don’t think anybody in Portland has ever done them as well.”
Richard Ross said Ivan delivered every time. “He was soft-spoken and never appeared to be pushing himself. A good man has been lost, a truly good man.”
Special Thanks to Ruben Contreras Jr., Floyd McKay & Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.
References: Broadcasting Telecasting Yearbook, Broadcasting Yearbook, Daily Capital Journal, Oregon Statesman, The Oregonian.
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