You may have heard the voice of Francis Dayle “Chick” Hearn, longtime Los Angeles Lakers announcer, on your favorite classic TV show and didn’t even realize it.
Hearn broadcast games with the Lakers in Southern California for nearly four decades, beginning in the 1960s. Hearn began in 1965 and “aired 3,338 consecutive regular and postseason games,” according to NBA.com. It was just one of the reasons he became the first broadcaster ever to be elected to the NBA Hall of Fame.
Of course, SoCal is known for a lot more than its beloved Lakers. A small town called Hollywood is just a stone’s throw from the University Park neighborhood of LA, where the Lakers used to play their games.
Raised in Aurora, Illinois, Hearn became such a recognizable name, voice and face in Los Angeles that it offered opportunities on television. From the sixties he appeared in a number of shows and films.
He called himself Chick, a nickname that stuck after he “played basketball at Bradley … His teammates gave him a shoebox with a dead chicken in it instead of sneakers,” according to the Bleacher Report.
One of his earliest non-Lakers roles on television was as announcer on the “Air Derby” episode of my three sons. He played the host of a remote controlled air show where Robbie had a plane. He also appeared as a news anchor on an episode of The fugitive during the Season 1 finale “The End Game”.
Playing the role of a broadcaster of sorts, often himself, Hearn added a realistic aspect to the shows he starred in, even those with the most outlandish plots like Gilligan’s island. Hearn first appeared in the Season 3 episode “Splashdown.”
He was seen on the screen and heard on the shipwrecked radio. Outside of the sports realm for this role, Hearn was a news anchor, relaying the play-by-play of two astronauts aboard a space capsule that happened to be directly over the island.
He wasn’t done yet Gilligan’s island after just one episode, as he was also featured in the episode “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane” that same season. This time he says his own name on the show, which was the only realistic part of the episode.
With a radio slung around his neck, Gilligan is soaring high in the sky and attached to a jetpack that the government is trying to locate. Some hear a familiar voice from the radio speaker saying, “Navy vessels are searching for a lost experimental jetpack. This is Chick Hearn reporting to you from the deck… And we just sighted a UFO in this area.”
Hearn also starred in the TV movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.
Hearn continued to expand beyond Los Angeles audiences with appearances on other 1960s shows such as mod squadand The Alfred Hitchcock Lesson. He also had on-screen roles, playing announcer roles The beloved and the 1969 film The Love Bug.
While announcing games for the “Showtime” Lakers in the 1980s, featuring well-known players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, Chick continued to speak for the decade, including on the “The Annihilator” episode of Matlock. He was also heard in the series as “Chick Mouse”. Garfield and his friends.
Although you may not know his name, you’ve probably heard Chick Hearn’s voice more times than you realize. He can even be heard briefly in the Pink Floyd song “Don’t Leave Me Now” from the legendary album The walljust before the song ends.
In the ’90s, Hearn appeared on an episode of The simpsons and several films including In the air, White men can’t jumpand wrongly accused.
He may not have been the most recognizable name in television history, but the voice of one of America’s top networks has found its way into a string of hit TV shows, movies, and even a hit album.
Though he will always be remembered as the late Lakers broadcaster, Hearn had a successful under-the-radar side-career in Hollywood that spanned nearly 40 years. Though not for his acting career, Hearn’s name is cemented in Hollywood with a star on the Walk of Fame.
The next time you have a classic TV show and hear an announcer’s voice, it could be the voice of Hall of Famer Chick Hearn.