Jackson Beck, 92, a master of voice-over who bellowed the lines "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" to introduce the "Superman" radio show and who used his versatile voice to promote everything from Aqua Fresh toothpaste to Combat roach killer, died July 28, it was reported in New York. He had suffered strokes in recent years.
In addition to narrating Superman's adventures, Mr. Beck doubled as villains, supporting characters and Daily Planet copyboy Beany on the popular radio broadcasts of the 1940s. He also portrayed the bully Bluto in more than 300 "Popeye" cartoons, was the voice of the Cisco Kid and was known for his impersonations of world leaders in "The March of Time," an enactment of the week's news from Time magazine.
Mr. Beck's strong, deep voice was heard on television commercials for Sugar Frosted Flakes, Pepsi, Brawny paper towels, GI Joe figures and dozens of other products, as well as football and boxing promotions for NBC. He also did voice-over for two Woody Allen movies, "Take the Money and Run" (1969) and "Radio Days" (1987), and could be heard on "National Lampoon" radio broadcasts and "Saturday Night Live."
Reporter, VOA Chief
Richard Cushing, 87, an Associated Press war correspondent in Asia during World War II and later the head of the Voice of America, died July 23 at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. No cause of death was reported.
Mr. Cushing, who worked for the AP in San Francisco for 15 years, was sent to the Pacific in the final year of World War II as a correspondent in the Philippines and Japan. He covered the Japanese surrender to Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the deck of the battleship Missouri and then flew to Shanghai, where he reopened the AP bureau.
Mr. Cushing was the acting director of the Voice of America in 1968 and 1969 and also served as a Foreign Service officer in Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and Kenya.
Lon Savage, 75, an author whose history of the West Virginia mine wars is used as a textbook in Appalachian studies courses, died July 27 at his home in Salem, Va. No cause of death was reported.
Mr. Savage, a native of Charleston, W.Va., wrote "Thunder in the Mountains: A History of the West Virginia Mine Wars 1920-21." The book, published in 1985, served as resource for director John Sayles's movie "Matewan" (1987). The events detailed in the book also served as background for West Virginia author Denise Giardina's 1987 novel "Storming Heaven."
Mr. Savage said in a 1985 interview that he wrote "Thunder in the Mountains" because most West Virginia histories did not mention the conflict between miners and coal companies, which culminated in the Battle of Blair Mountain, regarded as the largest civil insurrection in American history, except for the Civil War.