Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fred "Curly" Neal (1942-2020)

Together with Meadowlark Lemon, Marques Haynes, and Geese Ausbie, Fred "Curly" Neal was part of the core of the Harlem Globetrotters during the 60's & 70's. While Neal's likeness appeared on television in animated form, he didn't lend his voice to his animated self (actors Stu Gillam (1970-3) and Scatman Crothers (1979) subbed), he and the Globetrotters were making annual appearances on Wide World of Sports on ABC, in addition to the toons and a short-lived variety show airing on rival CBS.

Sadly, the news has come across the wires that Neal has passed on at 77.

Following is a compilation package of a 1978 Wide World appearance by the Globetrotters in Atlanta. Howard Cosell is the commentator.

Curly did have his share of commercial endorsements, but I've been meaning to use this video for a long time. Rest in peace, Curly.


Silverstar said...

In addition to 2 animated series, "The Harlem Globetrotters" (1970) and "The Super Globetrotters" (1979), both of which featured Curly as a prominent character, there was also a largely forgotten live-action Saturday morning show called "The Harlem Globetrotters' Popcorn Machine", which ran on CBS and featured Rodney Allen Rippey and comedian Avery Schriber as Mr. Evil. There was also a Hanna-Barbera produced TV special entitled "The Harlem Globetrotters Meet Snow White", which was just as bizarre as it sounds; in this Curly was again voiced by Stu Gilliam.

Neal, along with Hubert "Geese" Ausbie was present in nearly all of the Globies' fictional appearances. The last time I remember seeing Neal on TV was in a Budweiser commercial. RIP.

magicdog said...

I remember all of them - especially the Globetrotters meeting Snow White!

I was saddened to hear of his passing. Even though he was no longer playing on the team when I first started watching them (both on TV and occasionally in person when they came to the Nassau Coliseum every February) he was one of the best known names of all the incarnations of the team since the 50s.

hobbyfan said...

I will remind that all three of the Globetrotters' Saturday morning shows have been reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives. "Popcorn Machine", in particular, could've merited a x-over with the syndicated Hee Haw (same producers worked on both shows), but I don't think that happened.

I was fortunate to watch some of the 'Trotters' appearances on Wide World, but never live in person.

magicdog said...

They were totally fun to watch in person! I took my niece to see them when she was little - and had courtside seats!!! I was as excited as she was!

It was a very memorable time for both of us (she's in college now, so I can't spend as much time with her as I'd like). She was even picked out of the audience to play with the team - and still has a HG wristband they gave her! I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed if you ever get to catch them on the court - when quarantine is lifted.

hobbyfan said...

I've seen the modern day 'Trotters a couple of times, the last time in 2010, when their act more closely resembled something akin to a WWE sideshow. I wish I could've gone to see them back in the 70's.