Mar 12, 2017
If you're an old time radio fan, chances are you've heard the voice of Harlow Wilcox extolling the virtues of Rinso, Johnson's Wax, and (in the case of Suspense) Autolite resistor spark plugs. Born March 12, 1907, Wilcox was one of the most popular announcers of the radio era, often as much a character in the shows he announced as the leads.
Wilcox's best-known radio presence began when he met Jim and Marian Jordan in Chicago. He helped the couple produce some records, and when they got their own radio program as "Fibber McGee and Molly," the Jordans asked Wilcox to be their announcer. He moved from the Windy City to Hollywood when the McGees went west, and he stayed with them for years.
It was there that Wilcox implemented a practice that would be adopted all over radio (particularly by Don Wilson on The Jack Benny Program) - instead of saving commercials for act breaks, Wilcox entered the scene - dropping in on Fibber and Molly - to plug the show's sponsor Johnson's Wax. Wilcox tried to position the floor cleaner as the solution to whatever was giving McGee headaches that week, so much so that Fibber took to calling Wilcox "Waxy." (When the Jordans guest starred on Suspense during Wilcox's tenure as that show's announcer, his nickname was changed to "Sparky" in honor of Autolite.)
In addition to his work on Fibber McGee and Molly and Suspense, radio fans can hear Harlow Wilcox's voice on Amos 'n' Andy, Boston Blackie, Blondie, and many more.