LOS ANGELES - Fred Foy, a radio and television announcer best known for conjuring up "those thrilling days of yesteryear" in the late 1940s and '50s as the announcer-narrator of "The Lone Ranger" on radio and television, has died. He was 89.
Foy died yesterday morning of age-related causes at his home in Woburn, Mass., said his daughter, Nancy Foy.
During a broadcasting career that began in Detroit in 1940, Foy spent more than 20 years as a staff announcer for ABC radio and television before retiring in the mid-1980s.
His early career included stints announcing radio's "The Green Hornet" and "The Challenge of the Yukon," and he later was the announcer on "The Dick Cavett Show" on ABC in the late '60s and early '70s.
But Foy was best remembered for his stentorian delivery of what many consider the most famous opening in broadcast history, accompanied by the stirring strains of Rossini's "William Tell Overture":
"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi-yo, Silver' - the Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice.
"Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!"
Foy was a staff announcer at Detroit radio station WXYZ in 1948 when he was asked to take over as the announcer for "The Lone Ranger," which had been launched at the station in 1933.
He remained with "The Lone Ranger" until its final live broadcast in 1954. He also was the understudy for Brace Beemer, who played the title character, and was pressed into service for one broadcast in the '50s when Beemer had laryngitis.
"He was a dear man," actor-announcer Gary Owens told the Los Angeles Times yesterday. "He was one of my early heroes in broadcasting because he did such a good job. He had a great dramatic baritone."
Cavett was another longtime fan of Foy.
"I never dreamed that the thrilling voice that brought the well-known thundering hoofbeats into my living room in Nebraska would someday announce my own show," he wrote in the foreword to "Fred Foy From XYZ to ABC," Foy's self-published memoir that he sold and signed at old-time radio conventions.
"The mere sound of Fred Foy's extraordinarily resonant speech mechanism gives me gooseflesh . . . " wrote Cavett.
In a 2008 interview with National Public Radio, Foy said: "We never dreamed that this would become a legend when we were doing the show.
"And it's so beautiful to know that you had so many people who sat back and enjoyed your work."
He was born Frederick William Foy on March 27, 1921, in Detroit. In 1940, he landed a part-time job at WMBC, a small independent radio station in Detroit.
He moved to WXYZ in 1942 but was drafted into the Army later that year. Foy returned to the station after serving in the Special Services United/Armed Forces Radio in Cairo.
His career included narrating network documentaries, announcing "The Generation Gap" and other quiz shows, doing voice-overs for movie trailers and serving as a spokesman for General Motors, Colgate and other national advertisers.
Foy was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2000 and received a Golden Boot Award from the Motion Picture & Television Fund in 2004.