New York City native,
Jackson Beck was the son of Broadway and silent film actor Max Beck.
After working as a runner for the New York Stock Exchange, he launched
his broadcasting career in 1931. For the next seven decades, Beck used
his voice to sell everything from toothpaste and cereal to roach killer
and paper towels.
On the radio, he played a variety of roles, including detective Philo Vance and western hero The Cisco Kid. Beck portrayed the character of Bluto in more than 300 "Popeye" cartoons, narrated the "G.I. Joe" TV show and did voice-over work on two Woody Allen films ("Radio Days," "Take the Money and Run"). During World War II, he impersonated Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and other political leaders on the "The March of Time" radio show, which offered re-enactments of news stories from Time magazine.
Beck was best known for introducing the Man of Steel with the thrilling words: "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" He narrated "The Adventures of Superman" on the radio from 1943 to 1950, and the "Superman" cartoon on TV through the late-1960s. In addition to narrating Superman's adventures on radio, Beck doubled as villains, supporting characters and the Daily Planet copyboy, Beany, on the popular radio broadcasts of the 1940s.
Jackson Beck Beck's strong, deep voice was heard on television commercials for Sugar Frosted Flakes, Pepsi, Brawny paper towels, Hasbro-Bradley's GI Joe figures and dozens of other products, as well as football and boxing promotions for NBC. "I'm an advertising man, and I treat my voice as a business," Beck told Newsday in 1990. "People who treat it as art don't make any money."
He also did voice-over for two Woody Allen movies, "Radio Days" and "Take the Money and Run," and could be heard on "National Lampoon" radio broadcasts and "Saturday Night Live." He worked well into his 80s. Beck died in July, 2004, at the age of 92.