Almost a decade has now passed since Sandy Becker became Young Dr. Malone on CBS Radio. They have been exciting and interesting years for Sandy and for listeners to the program. For Jerry Malone, on the air, they have been a period of great adventures, of trials and triumphs-- the revealing personal story of a physician's private and professional life.
Along with this man he portrays, Sandy, too, has been maturing and growing. His work has broadened until it now includes, in addition to the dramatic CBS Radio role, a number of high-rated television programs. Like Dr. Malone himself, Sandy is an extremely busy man these days, still never quite convinced that he is doing enough or achieving enough.
Last year, the Ninth Annual American Academy of General Practice Scientific Assembly called particular attention of its member physicians to the Young Dr. Malone program for "informing radio listeners of the importance of the family doctor in American life." And for showing "a consistent interest in the general practitioner as an important bulwark in modern medicine.'' It was a considerable tribute.
Credit for the show's enormous popularity, year after year, must be given to its producer-director Ira Ashley, to a fine cast, to David Lesan who writes the program, to organist Milton Kaye who provides the music that has become an integral part of the story. And to Sandy Becker, who brings the title role to life with such sensitivity and understanding.
Sandy thinks of this man as the idealist we would all like to be. Of him he says: "Dr. Malone through the years I have known him, has become as much ot a philosopher as he is a doctor. A friend, a confidant. Trusted and loved. He has learned many lessons, fought out battles within himself. This is always a sign of growth.
"He has qualities that all of us are seeking, no matter who or what we are. He has faced his own faults and shortcomings and tried to overcome them. And he has been a credit to his profession. I enjoy being Young Dr. Malone."
At home. Sandy has watched his three youngsters develop distinct personalities of their own. Joyce Becker, who will be fourteen in August, sometimes appears with her father on The Sandy Becker Show, designed for children, on Station WABD (New York's Channel 5). She has musical talent, plays the piano well. Curtis, born the March day after his daddy first became Dr. Malone in 1940, has a scientific and mechanical bent, is his father's shadow whenever Sandy is repairing the car. Annelle, who will be eight in September, has a lovely little-girl's voice, perhaps will become a singer like her mother, Ruth.
Sandy loves all kids-- his own, the neighbors', the children he meets in the streets going back and forth to the studios. He loves to talk to them, listens attentively. He's a pushover, too, for animals and birds. Mike Grimaldi brings many small pets to the TV show, from his animal farm on Long Island, and Sandy uses them to instruct and amuse the children. One day, there may be a little red fox, seemingly tameč but Sandy warns that, even when tamed. these little wild animals are "one-man" creatures, only to be approached by their master. He likes to show kids things, not just talk about them, knowing they will remember a picture more than words.
A parakeet, gay in green feathers with bronze tips, is a favorite of the kids. Sandy calls her "Cuckoo"-- because that's what she thinks she is, he explains. She flies freely around the place, landing on Sandy's shoulder, on a puppet sitting on Sandy's table, in the big wooden chest where all the puppets live when not performing.
Sandy's a self-taught puppeteer, as he is also a self-taught cartoonist of great talent. He creates the puppets himself, modeling a head expertly while he talks to you, later having it cast and then dressed by a special puppet costumer. He works the puppets himself, does some nine or ten different voices. Occasionally, he models one of his little creatures-- slyly and delightfully-- after someone he knows.
Fielden Farrington, producer of The Sandy Becker Show, thinks of Sandy as a fellow who can do most anything. "There is the serious actor side of the man, as shown in his portrayal of Dr. Malone, and the fun-loving creative side. He is one of the most talented performers I know, and extraordinarily loyal and generous."
Besides the pets in the studio, Sandy always has a collection at home. Tanks of tropical fish, many of them rare specimens. Tanko, a German Shepherd dog. And Schatzi, who appears on the shows. Schatzi came to visit the studio with the lady who owned her, struck up such an immediate friendship with Sandy that she was sent to him, a few days later, as a gift. "A cute little mutt," he describes her. "BIack and off-white, with tan boots, and whiskers that part in two, like Gabby Hayes' beard. Everyone is in love with her-- including me.'
And everyone loves Sandy Becker, as Young Dr. Malone-- or as himself.
FAVORITE RADIO DRAMATIC ACTOR
A fourth Gold Medal for Sandy Becker-- for his fine portrayal of an idealistic physician in CBS Radio's Young Dr. Malone.
Daughter Joyce and family pet "Schatzi" sometimes come from home to help stage The Sandy Becker Show on WABD (New York).