Honoring the Past

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Recently, CBS made a huge switch that made headlines. They removed the traditional introduction to their Evening News half-hour which was spoken by the late Walter Cronkite and replaced it with a voiceover by Morgan Freeman. I mourn this shift. It seems legends don’t count much anymore.

Freeman is a notable actor. He’s good, darn good, and he does have a deep, dramatic voice. Using him means they can have special introductions if they so choose. In a business sense, I suppose the reasoning is sound, but in a time when we need heroes and values, I lament this passing of no longer hearing the trustworthy Cronkite’s voice.

Of course, the reality of life is that people die and things change. Sometimes the decision to leave someone on TV who has passed honors them, and sometimes it doesn’t. The marketers who have decided to leave the Billy Mays commercials on amaze me and fit into the latter category. These hard-sell commercials make me cringe. He’s in a car driving and talking about going to a meeting. The man is dead. I can’t deal with that.

Decades back, the quiet comedian, Wally Cox, died while working as a regular on Hollywood Squares. They had months of shows in the can at the time, but his family said he would want them to air and so the network continued to show them. That was honoring Cox’ genius. I thought that even as a child.

Over on NBC, the soap opera Days of Our Lives still begins with the steady and calming voice of MacDonald Carey, a tribute to him. He died several years ago, and I truly applaud their decision to continue with his presence. Similarly, ABC’s All My Children still includes a photo of Ruth Warrick who made her presence known there for years as Phoebe Tyler. It makes me smile when I see it.

In contrast, I’m very turned off by General Hospital’s retooling of its opening that has slowly removed its homage to the few people who were on the show at the start and died while still on the show, like John Bernadino. It’s just sad the way they have erased the past, so to speak.

I realize time marches on, but little tributes and small reminders of our past should be embraced. No offense to Morgan Freeman, but I’d rather listen to the legendary Cronkite.

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