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Detroit Television Celebrities of the 1960s and 1970s

Local Legends


Growing up in Detroit meant understanding the concept of Devil's Night, developing a love for Sander's hot fudge, and riding the boat to Bob-Lo. It also meant knowing the TV schedule backwards and forwards -- all seven channels of programming. In spite of the scarcity of viewing alternatives, or maybe because of it, certain Detroit television celebrities and personalities stole the show.

1. Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy was a landmark on Michigan air waves throughout the 1960s and 70s; many Detroiters grew up watching him host the only alternative to soap operas in the long afternoons of summer: Bill Kennedy at the Movies. Although never an A-list celebrity, Kennedy made a living at his craft, acting over the years in 12 TV series and 64 movies. His distinctive voice made him a natural as a television host and for voiceovers, such as the announcer in the Adventures of Superman TV series.

2. Rita Bell

Back in the day, Rita Bell was a daily fixture on TV as the host of Prize Movie, an intermission segment aired during the morning movie on WXYZ-TV. The segment consisted of Rita playing a song and the TV audience calling in to guess the title for a cash prize. Rita Bell made it into a career, hosting the segment throughout the 1960s and 70s. She was uniquely qualified for the position, having both broadcasting experience as Detroit's very first woman weathercaster and music experience as a band singer. Bell's sole acting credit outside of local TV was a 1968 episode of Big Valley. Lucky for Detroiters, her guest-starring appearance didn't turn into a recurring role.



3. Bozo the Clown

Bozo the Clown was bigger than Captain Kangaroo to Detroit kids. Of course, Bozo was larger than life with enormous feet and bright orange/red hair, but it was more than a strange choice in hairstyle that made him popular. Bozo was local. We could go see his show and maybe even knew a kid who already did. We might even end up winning a prize from that gliding treasure chest of his.

4. Bill Bonds

Bill Bonds is an icon in Detroit. At 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m., Bonds came into our home as top anchor on ABC's Action News to tell us what, when, where, why and how. With his career at WXYZ-TV spanning two decades, it is no wonder that he is such a recognized face to Detroiters; but it was his on-air outbursts that made him so memorable.
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