Sunday, July 19, 2009

For Mr. Cronkite

I don't recall Walter Cronkite doing the news a whole lot from when I was a kid, but I do remember him. What I remember more, though, was his wonderful baritone voice showing up in all manner of documentary-type stuff over the years after his retirement from the anchor's desk. He was once the voice of the ride at EPCOT that goes up inside the big geosphere-golfball thing; his voice was appropriate as that ride takes passengers through the history of communications. I loved his delivery of the vocal portion of that ride when I was in EPCOT in 1990, and I was disappointed to learn in 1998, when we returned, that Mr. Cronkite's narration had been replaced by a new version voiced by Jeremy Irons. (Nothing against Jeremy Irons, of course -- but he's not Walter Cronkite, is he?)

My main memory of Cronkite, though, is watching him on the yearly New Year's From Vienna concerts that are the major New Year's Day tradition in my family. We'd watch the telecast every year on PBS, in which Cronkite would introduce the pieces and give brief vignettes about the history of Vienna around the time the Strauss Family was producing some of the most glittering dance-hall music in history. This past year, however, Cronkite was replaced by Julie Andrews. A fine choice, but I figured at the time that Cronkite must have finally become too old and frail to continue his duties as the host of New Year's From Vienna.

I couldn't find any YouTube clips that showed Cronkite actually executing his duties thereof, so this will have to do. For older people of that era, Cronkite's reportage of the JFK assassination and Vietnam and Watergate are their key memories of him. For me, though, this work will always be associated, in part, with Walter Cronkite.

Here's the most famous waltz ever written, Johann Strauss's On the Beautiful Blue Danube.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Cronkite.

(But why, oh why, couldn't he at least have lived three more days to see the 40th anniversary of the moon landing? That's just mean, Mr. Reaper.)

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Mean indeed, Mr. Reaper.