The fun-loving star did lots of voiceover work, was a fine Oliver Hardy impersonator and appeared in ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.’
Chuck McCann, the goofy, good-natured comedian and TV host who was a hero to kids of all ages in and around New York City in the 1960s before he jumped into films, network television and commercials, has died. He was 83.
McCann died Sunday of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, publicist Edward Lozzi told The Hollywood Reporter.
With his cherubic face and ever-present grin, McCann epitomized fun. If the situation called for a fun supporting character, he was your guy. An entertainment jack-of-all-trades, McCann worked as a kids show host, puppeteer, nightclub comic, movie actor, voiceover performer and celebrity impersonator.
He had a key supporting role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) and starred in the low-budget fantasy film The Projectionist (1971); appeared on scores of TV shows; and did a spot-on imitation of comedy legend Oliver Hardy. (He was a founding member, along with actor Orson Bean, of the Sons of the Desert, the international fan club dedicated to celebrating Laurel & Hardy.)
“I did everything,” McCann told TVParty.com in a 2007 interview. “I never closed doors. If you look at my career — if I had one — I never think of it as a career, I just look at it as things I love to do. I have just as much fun doing a 30-second commercial as I do making a movie.”
In fact, one of McCann’s most memorable roles came in a series of TV spots for Right Guard throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
Sharing a medicine cabinet with his neighbor on the other side of the bathroom wall, McCann would bellow a cheerful “Hi Guy!” from behind the glass shelves to the stunned bathrobed person next door. McCann would then go on to extol the benefits of this particular brand of spray-on deodorant.
McCann also created the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird for General Mills’ Cocoa Puffs TV commercials. His loony intonation of “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” endeared the character to generations of cereal lovers.
McCann credited famed New York kids show host Sandy Becker for giving him a big break in the mid-1950s when they two worked together on a kids show for WABD-TV, Channel 5, then a DuMont network station.
“One day he called me over and said he was going and he wanted me to take over the show,” McCann told Steve Fritz in a 2006 article for Animated Shorts. “At first, I couldn’t believe he was talking to me. I said, ‘When do I start?’ He said, ‘Well, today’s Friday. So you start Monday.’