feedback.pdxradio.com forums feedback.pdxradio.com forums History Updated: HAL GIBNEY: "DRAGNET" ANNOUNCER, NEWSCASTER & HOST

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    Today August 26, 1911 Harold T. “Hal” Gibney was born in Woodland, California to Hattie Victoria (Theasby) and William Harold Gibney. Hal had no brothers or sisters. In 1920 the Gibney family was living in Alameda, Calif. In 1930 Harold T. Gibney concluded studies at San Mateo Junior College after two years. On August 15, 1933 Hal’s father William Harold Gibney died at age 52.

    On March 1, 1935 it was announced Hal Gibney, formerly with KTAB (aka later KSFO) San Francisco, Calif., had joined the KGW-KEX announcing staff. By April 20, 1935 Hal Gibney was living at: 717 N.E. Hassalo St. in Portland. On April 25, 1935 Hal’s fiancee was on a train from California en route to Portland, to marry him. On April 26, 1935 Harold T. Gibney, 23, married 20 year old Gay W. Williams of San Leandro, Calif., in a simple ceremony in Portland.

    On June 25, 1935 Hal Gibney, Larry Keating & Van Fleming were the announcers for The Oregon National Guard homecoming from Fort Lewis, marching through Portland’s business section. They gave all the descriptions. KEX 3:00 to 3:30pm.

    In July 1935 after three months of wedded bliss, Hal discovered something extra ordinary about his wife. She was also his step-sister! Turns out Hal’s mother, Hattie, an attractive widower, after meeting Gay’s father Harry, also a widower, a fast romance ensued and they got hitched. Now Hal’s mother, the new Mrs. Williams, is also his mother-in-law; his father-in-law is also his step-father. This in-law problem was a very complicated affair Hal said.

    On November 2, 1935 Hal Gibney was part of the large cast for the debut of the series “Safeway Circus Court” on KGW Saturday nights at 9:00 to 10:00pm. Billed as Portland’s biggest radio program, on a scale comparable to network variety productions. Over 50 artists and musicians took part from the ballroom of “The Multnomah Hotel” leased to accommodate the large number of performers as well as the spectators who were guests of the sponsors. [An earlier 30 minute version of this program titled “Circus Court of The Air” had aired on sister KEX 10-20-32 to 5-29-34 at 10pm.]

    On January 16, 1936 it was announced Hal Gibney had left KGW to join NBC (KPO) San Francisco as a staff announcer. After Hal left, “Safeway Circus Court” broadcast its last performance on KGW February 8, 1936.

    On August 14, 1937 Hal and other former KGW members of the NBC San Francisco air staff, broadcast a special program “NBC Salutes KGW” over the NBC Red Network in celebration of KGW’s new 625-foot tower. The ex-KGW members on the program were: Larry Keating, Helen Kleeb, Archie Presby, Van Fleming, Jane Burns, Harry Anderson, Larry Allen, Mary Alice Moynihan, Glen Hurlbert & Dave Drummond. The high jinks began at 9:00pm.

    By July 1939 Hal Gibney had moved to NBC Hollywood as an announcer. By July 1940 Hal was the announcer for NBC Red Network’s “Hawthorne House” & “The Standard Symphony” heard locally on KGW. On August 7, 1941 it was announced Hal Gibney was named as the new announcer for NBC Blue Network’s “Speaking of Glamour” heard locally on KEX. On September 28, 1941 Hal Gibney was assigned to the new weekly half-hour NBC Blue Network series “Capt. Flagg & Sgt. Quirt” (KEX). On December 14, 1941 Hal & Gay Gibney were divorced in Reno, Nevada.

    On March 2, 1942 Hal Gibney began as the commercial announcer for the gossip columnist show “Jimmie Fidler From Hollywood” via “The Blue Network” (KEX). On May 17, 1942 Hal filled in as announcer on “The Jergens Journal” with newscaster Walter Winchell, via “The Blue Network.” On July 8, 1942 Harold T. Gibney enlisted in the Air Corps., in Los Angeles.

    By July 28, 1942 Hal Gibney, now a private in the Army Air Forces, announced Network programs which originated each week at the West Coast Training-center in Santa Ana, Calif. with 100% Army cast. “Uncle Sam Presents” heard Fridays at 9:30pm on the NBC Red Network (KGW). “Soldiers With Wings” heard Saturdays at 5:00pm on CBS (KOIN). “Wing’s Over The West Coast” heard Sundays at 7:15pm on Mutual-Don Lee (KALE). By January 1943 Pvt. Harold Gibney was hosting “Hello Mom” Saturday’s at 10:00am on NBC.

    On January 28, 1946 Harold T. Gibney was discharged from the Army Air Forces, Radio Production Unit, after three and a half years, resuming as an NBC Hollywood announcer. On July 28, 1946 Harold T. Gibney, 34, married his 2nd wife, 30 year old actress Juanita Veneta Fields (Day) (was in the movie “Citizen Kane” 1941). But Hal’s mother was still married to his first wife’s father. In August 1946 Hal was filling in as gossip newsman on “Jimmie Fidler From Hollywood” on “The Blue Network” (KEX).

    On December 19, 1946 Hal Gibney substituted for Sam Hayes, NBC Pacific newscaster, while on vacation until January 1st (KGW). On February 15, 1947 Hal Gibney was the announcer for the new NBC series “Names of Tomorrow Finding Stardom Today” Saturdays at 1:30pm (KGW). On March 24, 1947 Hal again filled in for NBC newscaster Sam Hayes, through the 29th. On September 9, 1948 NBC Radio presented for the first time “The Dorothy Lamour Show” Thursdays at 6:30pm (KGW). Guests on debut night were Gregory Peck and Ozzie & Harriet. Hal Gibney, announcer on this variety show that lasted a year.

    On June 3, 1949 NBC Radio premiered “Dragnet” Fridays at 8:00pm (KGW) starring Jack Webb as Detective Sgt. Joe Friday & Barton Yarborough as Detective Sgt. Ben Romero. Debut ad: “Factual dramatizations of outstanding Police Cases from Los Angeles Detective Bureau files.” Hal Gibney, announcer, would usually give dates when and specify courtrooms. Hal was with the program all the way to the end. He made the transition from radio to television when “Dragnet” premiered on NBC TV January 3, 1952. NBC Radio continued to produce episodes to September 20, 1955, playing reruns until February 26, 1957. The original TV Network version lasted until September 6, 1959. In Portland we did not see the TV version on KPTV until July 9, 1953.

    On May 30, 1950 NBC Radio presented a summer replacement series “The Penny Singleton Show” Tuesdays at 9:30pm (KGW) situation comedy, starring Penny Singleton (Radio & Movies “Blondie”) as Penny Williamson with Jim Backus as Horace Wiggins & Gale Gordon as Judge Beshomer Grundell. Announcer Hal Gibney. On July 8, 1950 NBC Radio presented for the first time “Tales of The Texas Rangers” Saturdays at 8:00pm (KGW) starring Joel McCrea as Ranger Jace Pearson and announcer Hal Gibney. Last episode on September 30, 1952.

    On March 23, 1952 Hal Gibney was again heard on KGW for its 30th anniversary. NBC produced the program “Portland 620” at 7:30pm. On the show were other NBC KGW alumni: Mel Blanc, Archie Presby, Eddie King, Joy Storm, Don Rickles & Homer Welsh.

    On September 23, 1953 NBC Radio premiered “Six Shooter” Wednesdays at 7:30pm (KGW) starring movie star Jimmy Stewart. Debut ad: “Jimmy Stewart as Britt Ponset, a peaceful man forced by circumstances into the knowledge that survival depends on the peace-maker in his own holster — the six shooter!” Announcer Hal Gibney. This was the a last effort by network radio to keep listeners interest in adventure drama by presenting major Hollywood talent in a leading role. “Six Shooter” ended its run June 25, 1954.

    On July 7, 1954 it was reported that Hal Gibney had purchased KXOC in Chico, Calif. (later aka KPAY) from KXOC, Inc. (Lincoln Deller, President. 1955 co-owner of KXL & KJR). On August 4, 1954 the KXOC sale was granted for transfer to Broodmoor Broadcasting Corp., through a purchase of all stock for $150,000 and assumption of obligations for approximately $20,000. Principals included Harold T. Gibney. Things did not go well at KXOC in the next 17 months. On April 16, 1955 Harold T. Gibney, 43, married his 3rd wife, 33 year old Marion L. McKinstry in Los Angeles, Calif.

    On October 3, 1955 ABC-TV premiered “The Mickey Mouse Club.” On the program segment “The Mickey Mouse Club Newsreel” Hal Gibney was the Narrator. He stayed with the program to its finish September 25, 1959. On December 28, 1955 KXOC was granted transfer of control to Jack O. Gross for $25,000 plus assumption of $52,750 in notes, plus $10,000 for agreement not to compete in Chico market in the next five years. On June 13, 1956 Hal and Marion were divorced. In February 1970 Hal’s mother Hattie Victoria Williams died at age 81 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    On August 21, 1971 Harold T. Gibney, 59, married his 4th wife, 52 year old Julie Ruby Pratt in Santa Barbara, Calif. On June 5, 1973 Hal Gibney died at age 61 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.

    References: Billboard magazine, Broadcasting magazine, On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio book, The Oregonian, OTRRpedia, Reno Evening Gazette, San Mateo Times & Daily News, Santa Ana Register, Tyrone Daily Herald, Wikipedia.


    Something tells me he was just as active from 1955 to 1973. Maybe we’ll learn more sometime.

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