Detroit Nostalgia: Who Remembers the Afternoon Favorite “Bill Kennedy at the Movies”?
For some reason there are certain things that just stick in my brain from being a kid. Not those normal things like the toys I had, or the friends I played with, but unique thinks reminiscent of the time, especially television shows.
Whenever I had to stay home from school as a kid I got a instant glimpse into my mom's daily routine. Funny, I know, but she had a routine that included watching her favorite shows on T.V. She would refer to them as "her shows", and there was no budging on what we were watching during their scheduled time, even if I was the sick kid on the couch.
During the '70s and early '80s, Monday through Friday at 1:00pm most households tuned into catch Bill Kennedy at the Movies on WKBD Detroit ( Channel 50). It was my moms favorite, and my entertainment when I was home from school, and to be honest I kind of loved it.
Bill Kennedy had a certain swagger that made me laugh and smile at how he announced the movie choice for the day. I could never quite tell if he was just a little eccentric or had a few cocktails before the show. Whatever it was, Kennedy had Detroiter's tuning in each day. According to Richard Bak in his book Detroitland: A Collection of Movers, Shakers, Lost Souls, and History Makers From Detroit’s Past,
"Kennedy’s show at its peak drew one out of every three people watching the tube in metro Detroit."
Bill Kennedy also interview some of the biggest stars on his show. Celebs such Jayne Mansfield, Clint Eastwood, Debbie Reynolds, and Kirk Douglas sat chatting with the cigarette smoking Kennedy as if they were all best friends, and maybe they were since Kennedy started out as an actor himself.
He has signed with Warner Brothers Studios back in 1941 and appeared in about 64 movies. After the acting bug had dwindled, Kennedy was hired by CKLW in Windsor, Ontario to be the movie host for Bill Kennedy’s Showtime. Soon after in 1969, he made the move to WKBD in Southfield, Michigan to start his stint on Bill Kennedy at the Movies. He stayed the host until he retired in 1983.
Bill Kennedy lost his battle with throat cancer and emphysema at the age of 88, dying on January 27, 1997. Sadly, there isn't hosts quite like him any longer, but I for one am lucky enough to have some great flashback memories.
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