The Other "Anchorman"

Ron Burgundy, meet Ted Baxter.

The hype over what now appears to be a series of "Anchorman" movies amuses me.

It's grown so much that a fictitious anchorman is joining real news anchors on TV newscasts.

I saw the original "Anchorman" movie now almost ten years ago, and, while it had its funny moments, my reaction to it was something akin to "been there, done that".

For those not familiar with what has come to be known as "Classic TV", there was another fictitional "anchorman" once upon a time.  One, who like said Burgundy, was known more for his looks than his knowledge of the world scene. 

Yes, I'm talking about Ted Baxter of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, once described as having "pear-shaped tones and a pea-shaped brain". One who, in spite of rehearsing it a million times, when pressed to pronounce a Japanese policy maker named Edeko Kowasaki, instead said "Edeko Sow-a-kock-ee". One who, when he met Walter Cronkite in a memorable episode, was inclined to ask him, "Well, Walt, what words do you have trouble pronouncing?".

Ted was played brilliantly by Ted Knight, a one-time Shakespearean actor who, at first, hated the role. His mind about it changed once it made him famous.  So much so, that when MTM ended, he continued to play the role in regional commercials.  One, for a local shopping mall, aired in Cleveland even after Knight's death in 1986.

And Ted, just like Ron, had a favorite sign-off.  Burgundy's, of course, is "Stay Classy, San Diego".  Baxter's was "Good News and Good Night".

I don't know that Ted Baxter ever was invited to anchor or co-anchor a real newscast, although I have seen a video of an appearance he made on a Philadelphia newscast in the 1970's.

It's no surprise that the episodes of the MTM show featuring Ted are some of the funniest of the series' entire seven-year run.  There's never been any indication Ted influenced Burgundy's "Anchorman" character, although the original movie took place in the same era as the MTM show, in the 1970's (the sequel is supposed to take place in the '80's, in the early years of cable news).

I did notice with great interest, however, that, in the original movie, Burgundy had a dog named Baxter.


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