Dwight Weist

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Dwight Weist
Dwight Weist, Jr.

(1910-01-16)January 16, 1910
DiedJuly 16, 1991(1991-07-16) (aged 81)
Alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University
Years active1938-1987
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Maxwell (1935-?)
Avery Hathaway (1956-?)

Dwight Weist, Jr. (January 16, 1910 - July 16, 1991) was an actor and announcer in the era of old-time radio.


Early years

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Dwight W. Weist, [1] he was born in Palo Alto, California, but was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [2] He attended Scranton's Central High School, where he participated in dramatics. [3] He was a 1931 [4] graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, [2] where he participated in debate, [1] and he acted in the Cleveland Play House theater company. [2]


Weist debuted on radio in Columbus, Ohio, working as an announcer on WAIU [5] while he was a college student. [6] He also worked on WGBI in Scranton, relating instructions about playing bridge. [7]

Weist was called "the man of 1,000 voices," primarily as a result of his work on The March of Time . [2] His obituary in The New York Times explained, "Mr. Weist, who played Adolf Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt, among many others, received his nickname because of his ability to imitate a broad range of accents and ages." [2] Weist even made an adjustment in 1935 after Hitler had surgery to create a milder, more soothing vocal tone. Some of Weist's friends watched as he listened to a speech by Hitler and immediately afterward spoke in the newer tone himself. When he was assigned roles of people with whose voices he was unfamiliar, he listened to them in newsreels and on radio to develop his impersonations. [4]

His roles on radio programs included those shown in the table below.

The Adventures of the Thin Man Announcer [8]
The Aldrich Family Announcer [8]
Big Town Narrator
Inspector Callahan [9]
Cavalcade of America Narrator [5]
Forty-five Minutes From HollywoodImpersonated leading film stars [4]
Grand SlamAnnouncer [8]
Inner Sanctum Mystery Announcer [5]
Mr. District Attorney District attorney [10]
The Second Mrs. BurtonStanley Burton [11]
The Shadow Police Commmissioner Weston [12]
Skippy Announcer [4]
So BigAnnouncer on East Coast broadcasts
Narrator on West Coast broadcasts [13]
Stories America LovesAnnouncer [14]
We, the PeopleMaster of ceremonies [15]

Weist also wrote scripts for radio programs, at least two of which were produced: "The Death of Adolph Hitler on The Kate Smith Hour and "Evening Call", produced by the Radio Guild. [5]

Film and television

In the 1940s, Weist's voice was heard on Pathé newsreels in movie theaters. He also was heard in the film Zelig and was shown announcing the Pearl Harbor attack in Radio Days . [2] He narrated the short films State Trooper, about the Connecticut State Police, [16] and Here Come the Yanks, about the National War Fund. [17]

He was the voice of the character Adso (Christian Slater) as an old man, in the 1986 movie "The name of the rose".

On television, Weist was the announcer on Search for Tomorrow [18] and worked on Walter Cronkite's Sunday News Special and Guy Lombardo's Diamond Jubilee. [19]

Other professional activities

In 1956, Weist and Bob Barron began the Weist-Barron School to teach commercial acting in New York City -- an institution that has evolved into the Weist-Barron School of Television and the Weist-Barron-Hill Acting School, with campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. [20] Weist taught there for 35 years. [2]

Commuting by air

When Weist worked in New York City, he and his family lived on the shore of Lake Tomahawk in Orange County, New York, and he traveled to and from work by plane. He bought his first aircraft, a Fairchild, in 1940, before he learned how to fly. After World War II began, he sold the Fairchild to the government for use as a training plane. Later he bought a Seabee seaplane (manufactured by Republic Aircraft), which he moored at a dock near the family's home. The plane's 105 mph cruising speed enabled him to reach the city in 30 minutes, rather than the 140 minutes that driving typically required. [5]

Personal life

In 1935, Weist married Elizabeth Maxwell, a registered nurse, in Manhattan. While at home, he often worked in his garden. He also had a workshop in New York City in which he worked on toys and other wooden products during time between radio programs. [5] After they divorced, he married Avery Hathaway on April 25, 1956. [19]


Weist died July 16, 1991, of a heart attack in Block Island, Rhode Island. He was 81. He was survived by three sisters, four sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren. [2]

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  1. 1 2 "Wesleyan University Honors Dwight Weist". The Scranton Republican. Pennsylvania, Scranton. December 10, 1927. p. 15.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Blau, Eleanor (July 20, 1991). "Dwight Weist, a Radio Actor, 81, Known as 'Man of 1,000 Voices'". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  3. "School Playlet Is Big Success". The Scranton Republican. Pennsylvania, Scranton. December 4, 1926. p. 6.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Weist Matches Hitler's Voice Without Surgical Aid". The Tribune. Pennsylvania, Scranton. August 30, 1935. p. 3. Retrieved December 14, 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "He Flies Through the Air" (PDF). Radio Mirror. 17 (2): 46–49, 75–76. January 1947.
  6. "Announcer Dwight Weist Jr. Flies to Gotham Radio Studios". Scrantonian Tribune. Pennsylvania, Scranton. December 15, 1946. p. 10. Retrieved December 15, 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  7. "High Lights as Times' New AM Voice Sang Out". The Times-Tribune. Pennsylvania, Scranton. April 17, 1950. p. 16. Retrieved December 14, 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  8. 1 2 3 "Triple Threat". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. November 1, 1947. p. 6. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  9. "Two-in-One". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. December 10, 1944. p. 15. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  10. "'Mr. District Attorney'". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. May 18, 1939. p. 28. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. "(untitled brief)". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. March 30, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. "'Man of 1,000 Voices,' Dwight Weist, Dies at 81". The Times-Tribune. Pennsylvania, Scranton. July 21, 1991. p. 20. Retrieved December 15, 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  13. "Radio Briefs". The Circleville Herald. Ohio, Circleville. January 27, 1942. p. 5. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  14. Ogden, Hubert (March 8, 1942). "Clear Channels". The Lincoln Star. Nebraska, Lincoln. p. 32. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  15. "'We, the People' Signs Dwight Weist As Regular Emcee; Opens Thursday". Harrisburg Telegraph. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. October 18, 1947. p. 19. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  16. "Bethany Barracks Location Of Conn. "State Trooper" Film". Naugatuck Daily News. Connecticut, Naugatuck. November 10, 1949. p. 7. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  17. "National War Fund Movie to Be Shown". The Tribune. Pennsylvania, Scranton. October 11, 1945. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  18. "Rainy Day Blues". The Kingston Daily Freeman. New York, Kingston. October 8, 1975. p. 11. Retrieved June 28, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  19. 1 2 Owen, Ethel (August 1956). "Imagine Me -- Playing Cupid". TV Radio Mirror. 46 (3): 38–39, 75–77. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  20. Kristal, Nicole (2006-10-28). "Weist-Barron School Celebrates 50 Years". backstage. Retrieved 28 June 2016.