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Late Los Angeles-area anchorman Jerry Dunphy has accomplished something of a pop-iconic feat. He has been cited as the main inspiration for two bumbling-but-fictional TV newsmen: Ted Knight's Ted Baxter in the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Will Ferrell's title character in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Dunphy, who went to that big broadcasting center in the sky in 2002, knew nothing of Ron Burgundy. But Dunphy understandably hated any comparisons to dingbat Ted Baxter of the 1970-'77 TV classic. One famous story about the real-life anchorman had him blaming on-air flubs on the thickness of the Teleprompter paper.MTM Show creator James L. Brooks, who was launched into Hollywood from LA TV newsrooms, revealed the Dunphy-Baxter link in interviews at the time. When rumors swirled of a Dunphy-Burgundy link, Anchorman star and co-writer Ferrell—who was born in Irvine on July 16, 1967—admitted the Southland news vet was one of many pompous local anchors who shaped his character. Ferrell wasn't sparing a dead man from ridicule: examine his outrageous newsreader more closely, and the attributes he aped become quite clear. Deep voice: Definitely a trademark of Dunphy, the anchorman at KNXT (now KCBS) from 1960 until switching to KABC/Channel 7 from 1975 to 1989, then bouncing between KCAL/Channel 9 and KCBS until his death. Another who went low was George Putnam, the rabid right-winger who started at KTTV/Channel 11 in 1951 and in the '70s knocked between that station and other non-network affiliates KTLA/Channel 5, KHJ (now KCAL)/Channel 9 and KCOP/Channel 13. Perfect hair: At times, it was hard to tell blow-dried Tom Snyder and Paul Moyer apart when they anchored KNBC/Channel 4 newscasts in the 1970s. Harold Greene also had plenty of air in there at KABC/Channel 7 in the late '70s. Dunphy's flowing white locks obviously inspired Colonel Sanders. Mustache: Greene sported a cookie duster when he first came to LA from (Burgundy's) San Diego. Loud, colorful clothes: Snyder, who was at KNBC from '70 to '74 before going network, and Moyer, who started there two years later and is now their franchise news reader after a stint at KABC from '79 to '92, both wore the wide ties, wide lapels, wide flares and wide sideburns associated with the disco era. Greene also laid down righteous threads. Heavy drinking:The only one you can rule out is Tom Brokaw, the NBC/LA affiliate's anchorman from 1966 until jumping to the network in 1973, although whenever he introduced "Kewwy Wange" (Kelly Lange), you might think he was slurring. Ladies' man:KTLA's Hal Fishman's always fought 'em off. Air-headedness to the point of barely understanding what he's reading: Too many to list.
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