Monday, December 22, 2008

Catching Up with Dr. George

The L.A. Times chats with former KABC weathercaster Dr. George Fishbeck, who's still going strong at age 86, and is still married to his wife, Susanne, after nearly 60 years together:

KABC claimed at the time that more than 90% of people in this market could identify Dr. George. Schoolchildren waved. Women stopped for hugs. Marlon Brando once called from a movie set in Canada, needing to know for a scene at what temperature his breath would freeze.

Dr. George said he doesn't really miss live forecasts because "I still do it."

"Suzy will say, 'Look at those clouds over the mountains,' and I say, 'Well, those are coming off the ocean, but then along the mountains the air condenses and you get the rain.' "

"He gives me the whole lesson," Susanne interjects, as Dr. George barrels ahead, on-air style, with a forecast that concludes: "And there's a second front coming in behind it in less than a week. And . . . oh my!"

Before I know it, the old weatherman has produced a giant plastic bottle, dropped in a burning match and begun blowing in and out of the mouth like a steam engine. He creates a cloud, then makes it disappear, chanting: "High pressure, low, high, low."

But don't think that Dr. George survives merely for the next big Arctic blast. The octogenarian volunteers like a fiend. A docent at the L.A. Zoo, he brings animals to cheer rest-home patients. He raises money for a couple of firefighter charities, including one that runs a camp for child burn victims.

But what gets his blood really pumping are the nights that he spends with the LAPD's Volunteer Surveillance Team. Susanne wonders if her husband is getting a little old for stakeouts that can last until 2 or 3 in the morning. But it's clear how much Fischbeck loves it. "We got him. We got him in six minutes," Dr. George chirped of a purse snatcher he radioed in to his police.

Above, some classic Dr. George in action.

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