Tuesday, July 8, 2008

'Officer' Joe Bolton

Joe Bolton was a veteran in the broadcasting industry, starting in radio then going into tv. In radio, he was a sportscaster, but when he started on tv, for WPIX in New York, he was at first a weatherman.

When Columbia Pictures released a package of Three Stooges comedy shorts in 1958, WPIX was the local NY station to run them, and they selected Joe Bolton to introduce the movies each day. He screen persona was as a police officer, and he was called 'Officer' Joe Bolton. I was one of the many thousands of NY kids who watched the show from the first telecast.

Mr. Bolton remained as host for a few years, then he was replaced by some other WPIX personnel for the next few years, and eventually returned as host of Three Stooges comedies. More about that can be read here, a tribute page to Joe Bolton, written by my friend Ron Smith.

I wrote to 'Officer' Joe several times over the years, beginning in the early 1960s. He sent me this post-card-sized color photo. He was very courteous in replying to the letters, always giving me answers to any questions I had about the Stooges (at that time, very little information was available, other than studio publicity and a few newspaper articles promoting the comedies on tv).

In 1965, Joe played the role of 'Rob Dalton' in the Stooges feature, "The Outlaws IS Coming". All of the 'outlaws' in the movie were played by hosts of the Stooges' movies in various cities across the U.S. Here is one of the publicity photos he would send to his fans.
He signed it on the back:

Here are a couple of letters I received from him, to show his thoroughness in replying to fans questions.

One Sunday afternoon in the early 1970s, my friend Jack and I went to New York City, for what reason I don't remember, but probably to hunt for movie photos and records. When we were in the area of WPIX-TV, he stopped to use a phone booth (any of you readers remember those?). He called the tv station and talked to Joe Bolton, and Joe invited us up to the studio for a brief visit. Joe was on broadcast duty, it seemed, occasionally interrupting a movie to make a station announcement. But he had time to sit with us and talk. Jack had already known him very well, because of a college project involving Joe. We had a pleasant conversation, and Joe was very much the gentleman, appreciative of his long-time fans.

It wasn't long after that, Joe retired, and moved to Santa Monica, California during the same time I was living in North Hollywood. When Jack told me this news, I looked up Joe's number and called him. He remembered me, and while cordial, declined meeting for lunch. He said he was retired and liked to spend much of his time at the pool in his apartment complex. I never called again, figuring he was entitled to a fan-free retirement. He died in 1986.

I will always have fond childhood memories of my 'introduction' to The Three Stooges, through 'Officer' Joe Bolton.

1 comment:

Paul Wainwright said...

Very nice article and thoughts about 'Officer' Joe. I too have very fond memories of his shows and the Three Stooges...although there were Six Stooges...lol. You were lucky to have actually met Joe.

I remember well watching these shows on Channel 11 as a kid. I received a 2 DVD set this Christmas past entitled: "The Three Stooges", 2007, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, which continued to bring back those fond memories.

Now I am inspired to look into the old "Superman" and "Abbott and Costello" shows I also recall with much fondness.

Nice to read your article...

Paul from NJ