Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding began as radio announcers (Elliott was a DJ, Goulding did the news) on WHDH-AM in the 1940’s. Each one would visit the other while on the air. Their informal banter was so appealing that WHDH would call on them, as a team, to fill in when Red Sox broadcasts were rained out. They would improvise comedy routines all afternoon (no night games back then), and joke around with studio musicians.
In 1946 WHDH gave them their own weekday show, “Matinee with Bob and Ray.” When explaining why Bob’s name was first, Goulding claimed that it was because “Matinee with Bob and Ray” sounded better than “Matinob with Ray and Bob.” Their trademark sign-off was “This is Ray Goulding reminding you to write if you get work”; “Bob Elliott reminding you to hang by your thumbs.”
They went to New York in 1951 when the show went national on the NBC, CBS, and Mutual Networks, including regular appearances on “The Today Show” with Dave Garroway, as well as WINS, WHN, hosting afternoon drive on WOR, later moving to NPR from 1976 to 1987.
They also played the Piel Brothers, Bert and Harry, in the animated Piel’s Beer TV commercials in the 50s and 60s. Among their writers were Raymond Knight (Elliott later married Knight’s widow) and former WEEI big band singer Jack Beauvais.
The Bob and Ray show had a cast of characters – all played by Bob and Ray. Among Ray’s characters:
Webley Webster, mumble-mouthed book reviewer and organ player whose reviews of historical novels and cookbooks were dramatized as seafaring melodramas.
Calvin Hoogavin, a character in one of Bob & Ray’s soap opera parodies.
Steve Bosco, a sportscaster who signed off with, “Steve Bosco, rounding third and being thrown out at home.”
Farm Editor Dean Archer Amstead, whose low, slurring delivery was hard to understand and often punctuated by him expectorating into a spittoon.
One of the McBeeBee Twins, either Claude or Clyde. These non-identical twins spoke in unison, led by Goulding, and echoed by Elliott. Always interviewed by Elliott.
He also voiced all of the show’s female characters – including Mary McGoon, who drew her name from Mary Margaret McBride and Somerville’s Magoun Square and managed to blend barbed invective with inspired daffiness; Linda Lovely, Mary Backstayge, and Fanny Butcher, the female leads of Bob and Ray’s soap opera parodies; Natalie Attired, who specialized in speaking the lyrics to college fight songs accompanied only by a drummer.
Ray Goulding was born in Lowell in 1923 and died in 1990.