Lary Lewman

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... ?

August 25, 2007|By Jacques Kelly

Baby boomers loved Lary Lewman as Pete the Pirate, who captured the Baltimore TV market from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on WBAL-TV from 1960 to 1964. His archenemy was Captain Awfulmean. On Sunday, he put on a clay putty nose and became Captain Fog.

Lewman, now 70 and retired, lives in a Clarksville home with his wife, Nancy, with whom he appeared on a 1959 show, What's New with the Lewmans. After his days as Pete, he made an artful transition to become The Voice. By 1980 he became what voters heard on radio and television - but never saw - in Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign. This was only the beginning. He did thousands of radio and television spots, including the Bill Clinton campaigns. His income soared. He made $500,000 a year in election years - half that in off years. People loved his smooth baritone.

Lewman left the microphone in 2000, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. A story in The Washington Post noted, "For 20 years now, he has been the most ubiquitous voice in Democratic campaign commercials, on both radio and television."

"I figured I better quit when I was ahead," he said, adding the disease hasn't affected his articulation. "It's hard to separate the symptoms from old age."

Lewman in retirement calls himself a "C-plus carpenter" - and keeps up with what he calls "a broken-down historic home that's part log cabin built in the late 1970s" that sits on 11 acres. He also takes long walks and builds his own tomato cages. August has been a great tomato month, he said.

He's an enthusiastic organic gardener - tomatoes, corn, cabbage, beans, peas, asparagus and all the berries. "The birds really have their eyes on my cherries," he said.

He is active in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia and loves classic poetry - the same poetry he used to recite in Hopkins Plaza when he made appearances as the Poetry Man.

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