- Hollenbeck, Don
- (1905–1954)The on- and offscreen narrator of STANLEY KUBRICK’s third short, THE SEAFARERS, Don Hollenbeck was known as a news analyst for CBS Radio. He got his start as a newspaperman in his native Nebraska and then moved from the Midwest to New York in 1937, to take a job as picture editor for the Associated Press (AP). Two years later, AP transferred him to its San Francisco bureau.During the last two years of World War II, Hollenbeck’s voice became familiar to American households, thanks to his radio work for the Office of War Information, first in London and then in Algiers. Perhaps his greatest achievement in that regard came with the battle-action recordings he made of the British troops landing at Salerno. During the conquest of southern Italy, Hollenbeck moved northward with the troops and was one of the first correspondents to begin broadcasting from Naples when the U. S. Army Signal Corps set up transmitters. He continued broadcasting from England, Germany, and France in 1945.Hollenbeck joined the staff of CBS News in October 1946. There he was heard on several network news programs and on his best-known show, CBS Views the Press. Cue magazine called the program “a quiet, incisive analysis of the manner in which New York City’s press has handled the week’s news. ” “We are neither muckrakers nor crusaders,” Hollenbeck told Cue. “We simply feel that mutual criticism is a healthy thing. ”The show won Hollenbeck accolades from the American Newspaper Guild, as well as the coveted Peabody Award.Hollenbeck brings an air of benevolent confidence to his role as narrator in The Seafarers, Stanley Kubrick’s third documentary short, which was commissioned by the Seafarers’ International Union. Essentially an industrial film, The Seafarers no doubt was intended to be shown exclusively to new and prospective members of the union. Hollenbeck’s tone of delivery is conversational and pleasant, with an adult, deadpan sense of humor—much as it had been in his radio broadcasts—and as poet Carl Sandburg once described it, Hollenbeck’s appearance is somewhat “Lincolnesque. ”This screen presence lends a palpable legitimacy and integrity to the documentary and indeed to the union itself, as one imagines that Hollenbeck would have been perceived as a trustworthy, reassuring figure at the time. After suffering severely from stomach ulcers, Hollenbeck ended his life in June 1954, by inhaling gas in his Manhattan apartment. He was still making daily radio broadcasts for CBS at the time of his death.References■ “Don Hollenbeck . . . CBS News Analyst,” CBS Biographical Service, June 19, 1947;■ “Don Hollenbeck is Suicide by Gas,” (obituary), New York Times, June 23, 1954;■ “Man With a View: Hollenbeck is Radio’s Outspoken Critic of Press,” Cue, December 18, 1948, p. 17.
The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. Gene D. Phillips Rodney Hill. 2002.
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