Jean Shepherd Web Site
Celebrating 15 years on the Web
Who was Jean Shepherd?
Shep in his early career.
Courtesy of Bruce Clark
Jean Shepherd was a writer, humorist, satirist, actor, radio
raconteur, TV & film personality and an American original. He was a master story
teller in the league of Mark Twain, S.J. Perlman and P.G. Wodehouse. Taking bits and
pieces from his own life, he weaved tales of the joys, humor, intrigue and angst of
growing up. His youth in Hammond, Indiana, his adventures in the Army Signal Corps and
stories of the obscure and infamous were all fertile sources for his tales. For almost
three decades, he told these stories to eager radio audiences. In Cincinnati between
1950 and 1954 Shep did a DJ show from Shuller's Wigwam on WSAI and a nightly comedy
show on WLW called "Rear Bumpers". This led to a television version
at KYW in Philadelphia. In 1956 Shep moved to the Big Apple on WOR New York where
for 21 years listeners all over the Northeast were treated to a nightly dose of
genius. His shows were a menagerie of comments, silly songs, jokes and other
digressions all orbiting around a central tale. For 45 minutes you laughed and wondered if
he would remember to conclude the story at hand. He always made it! His other great radio
enterprise was live broadcasts on Saturday night from The Limelight, a nightclub in
Greenwich Village. Marshall McLuan once called Shep "the first radio novelist."
Shep always loved the stage. He began his entertainment career in
Chicago as a performer at the Goodman Theatre . He did night club acts on Rush Street.
Shep appeared on Broadway in Leonard Sillman's revue "New Faces" in 1962 and
"Voice of the Turtle". Shep played a dance instructor in the film "The
Light Fantastic" (1963). Jean was also a sportscaster doing baseball broadcasts for
the Toledo Mudhens and Armed Forces Radio.
In the Seventies, he took his talents to television in a series
of humorous narratives for PBS call "Jean Shepherd's America" later continued on
the PBS New Jersey Network as "Shepherd's Pie". Here he was able to show us the
more off-beat aspects of America and particularly the state he loved to ridicule. Shep
actually lived in Washington Township, New Jersey during this time, and his
commute up and down Route 22 yielded a unique perspective on modern American culture.
This lead to a series of teleplays for PBS/WGBH's American
"The Phantom of the Open Hearth"
"The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters"
"Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss"
"The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski"
His most popular and well known work is the film "A
Christmas Story" (1983) which he co-wrote and narrated. Here Shep gives us a
compendium of his youth (as "Ralphie") including the infamous "Double Dog
Dare", his sidekicks Flick and Schwartz, the bullies Farkus and Grover Dill, and the
saga of the Lady's Leg Lamp. Ralphie's ultimate quest is to get a "Genuine Red Ryder
Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle" for Christmas
despite all the grownup warnings that "you'll shoot your eye out". More recently
he did a sequel, "My
Summer Story" (AKA "It Runs in the Family ")(1994).
Shep is also a long time amateur radio operator (his mother
always told him: "Watch out for the live wires!"). His callsign was K2ORS.
Many hams had the pleasure of talking to Shep on the bands. He often used his
middle name "Parker" as a handle to avoid attracting too much attention.
His books include:
The America of George Ade
In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash Buy
Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters Buy
The Ferrari in the Bedroom
A Fistful of Fig Newtons
Full Bibliography of Shep's Work
Shep was an early contributor to the Village Voice
most notebly in his "Night People" column. In 1957 he narrated "The
Clown" by Charles Mingus. He also wrote articles for several magazines including
Playboy, Car & Driver & Omni. He even wrote for Mad Magazine (The
Night People vs. "Creeping Meatballism", April 1957). He recently
contributed comments in the documentary "Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait"
(1994). You can also hear him in the video "Chicago
White Sox A Visual History".
He made countless personal appearances over the
years including Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, the Dayton Hamvention and many schools and
colleges. He often visited Hammond Indiana were he was awarded an honorary doctorate from
Purdue in 1995! For 31 years he appeared at Princeton University. Even with his extensive
repertoire, he always brought original and fresh stories to his old and new fans.
Did Shepherd have other talents? How about
"Kopfspeilen", that obscure musical art form played on one's head!
Shep passed away on October 16, 1999 at a hospital near his
home in Sanibel Island, Florida. He was 78 years old. He was mourned by
friends and fans everywhere. He may have died but will never be silenced. His genius
will live forever in his radio shows, writings, television shows and films.
Hopefully more of his work will be re-published so a new generation will all shout
News about Shep
Jean Parker Shepherd
Jean Shepherd passed away on October 16th, 1999. He was 78.
Tales of the Shep
Comments, stories, anecdotes etc. from Shep fans
Memorial Tributes Page
Tribute Message Boards - Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Jean Shepherd: Radio's Noble Savage
a 1966 article by Edward Grossman
Long John Nebel, Radio Talk King...
a 1974 LJN bio excerpt about Shep losing his all night show on WOR
Jean Shepherd's Rally: The Art Of Milling, or Go Fly A Kite
by Alan Bodian, The Village Voice
The Night People vs Creeping Meatballism
by Jean Shepherd, Mad Magazine, March-April 1957
Grapical Version | Text Version
When Schwartz Wiggled His Ears, That Was History
by Jean Shepherd, TV Guide, December 12-18, 1981
Season's Greetings From Ted,
Drew, and That Kid With His Tongue Stuck to the Pole
by Tom Carson, The Village Voice, December 23-29, 1998
Village Voice Articles- by Jean Shepherd
Other cool Shep stuff
Pictures, documents, holy relics and other Slob Art!
Bibliography of Shep's Work
Tapes from Schmidco!
Contributors Hall of Fame
Frequently Asked Questions
"Village Sunday", a 1960 documentary narrated by Jean Shepherd.
Info and Download links
Max Schmid produces and presents:
Monday night / Tuesday mornings,
4:00 - 6:00 am
WBAI 99.5 FM, New York
Featuring modern Radio Drama from the English-speaking world, usually in stereo, as well
as a weekly Jean Shepherd rebroadcast in the final hour. And God-Awful music, too!
OR get the tapes!
Want to be immortalized on the Contributors Hall of Fame page?
Send your Shep stories and trivia to:
firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks, Jim
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