Wendell Niles

Wendell Niles
Herb Ball / NBC


Wendell Niles
Radio: West side of the 1700 block of Vine Street
Radio Host
Born Dec. 29, 1904 in Livingston, MT
Died March 28, 1994 of cancer in Toluca Lake, CA

Wendell Niles was a veteran radio and television announcer who worked with such golden age performers as Bob Hope, George Burns and Milton Berle.

Among his many credits, Niles was an announcer for such radio and television programs as "The Bob Hope Show," "The Milton Berle Show," "The Colgate Comedy Hour," "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show," "It Could Be You" and "The Chase and Sanborn Hour," with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.

"He had one of the best voices the radio has ever known," Berle said after Niles' death.
Niles also appeared in more than three dozen motion pictures, including "Knute Rockne, All American," with Ronald Reagan in 1940.

Born and raised in Livingston, Mont., Niles began his show business career in the 1920s as the leader of a nationally touring orchestra. In the early 1930s, he settled with his family in Seattle, where he worked as the announcer for radio station KOL.

Niles came to Los Angeles in 1935, joining George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio show as the announcer. With his late brother Ken, he developed what would become the radio drama "Theatre of the Mind."

During World War II, he toured with Bob Hope, entertaining armed forces across the globe. In 1953, Niles told The Times that announcers faced a challenge unique to live broadcasts — keeping the audience's attention during the commercials.

"An announcer has to perform like mad every second he is on camera or before the microphone to keep some semblance of attention so that the stars will have an audience when the sponsor's appeal is completed," he said.

During the late 1960s, Niles created a weekly television spotlight of aspiring performers, "Your All-American College Show." He served as the program's executive producer.

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