Jackson Beck, who declared, “Faster than a speeding bullet!” to announce the “Superman” radio show and was one of the most familiar voices from the heyday of drama radio, died in Manhattan July 28 from complications of old age. He was 92.
Son of a silent film actor, Beck started getting network radio jobs soon after his graduation from radio acting school. He was heard as the Cisco Kid, Beany Martin and Philo Vance. He was cast as Superman’s narrator in 1943.
Beck frequently doubled and tripled in his shows; in addition to narrating the adventures of Superman, he also filled in as thugs, supporting characters, and Beany, the copyboy for the Daily Planet.
In 1944, Beck was cast as the voice of Bluto in the “Popeye” cartoons, making more than 300 episodes as the bully.
He also was well-known for his impersonations of world leaders, most notably Josef Stalin, in Time magazine’s weekly show “The March of Time.”
In 1969 he narrated Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run,” as well as his later work, “Radio Days.”
He also was featured in hundreds of TV commercials. At the age of 85, Beck was briefly brought on as the spokesman for Pepsi.
Beck was a founding member of the American Federation of Radio Artists, which later became the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists after it merged with the Television Authority.
Beck is survived by a stepson.