More than a thousand times, Fred Foy stepped close to the microphone in a studio at WXYZ radio in Detroit. With the "William Tell Overture" playing in the background, he spoke words that resonated for generations.
"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty, 'Hi! Yo! Silver!' The Lone Ranger!"
He never tired of those lines, which was just as well. Everyone from Dick Cavett, for whose TV show Mr. Foy was the announcer, to people he encountered on every errand wanted to hear his memorable voice speak those famous words.
Mr. Foy, who moved to Massachusetts in the late 1980s to be closer to his first grandchild, died in his sleep this morning in his Woburn home. He was 89.
"My father would be asked to do that introduction in social situations, at the doctor's office, at the grocery store, at the post office," said his daughter Nancy of Los Angeles. "He was never happier than when people would ask him, 'Fred do the intro.' He would put his hand to his ear like he was at the microphone, dig down, and out would come that beautiful, rich, baritone voice. It was magical."
When Mr. Foy was the announcer for "The Dick Cavett Show," the introduction to "The Lone Ranger" became part of the show's warm-up routine.
"Up in my dressing room, I could just overhear," Cavett said as he sang the galloping notes from the "William Tell Overture" and recited Mr. Foy's spoken introduction. "I gave myself goose pimples now just doing it. I heard it every night, and the audience was thrilled. Some people said, 'How can I get tickets to your show again? I want to record Fred.' "
Mr. Foy was the "Lone Ranger" announcer on radio from 1948 until it went off the air in 1954, and reprised his role for the introduction when it moved to television.
Mr. Foy, however, was always quick to correct a common mistake about the wording. "It wasn't 'Hi! Ho!' as many people think," he told the Globe in 1993. "It was, 'Hi! Yo!' "
Along with being the announcer for "The Lone Ranger," he performed the title role just once, on March 29, 1954, when Brace Beemer, the radio actor who played the Lone Ranger, came down with laryngitis. It was only one episode, but for many years, it gave Mr. Foy the distinction of being the last living actor who performed as the Lone Ranger on radio, after Beemer and the other actors who held the role died.
"I had a tremendous amount of fun," he told the Globe about his brief run as the ranger. "But right after that one show, I got back to my usual duties."
Those were extensive enough. He narrated the show, providing the explanatory information whenever the actors weren't speaking, sometimes as the sound effects crew created an audio tapestry in the background. With trays of dirt, gravel, and sand, or sometimes a bathtub if the horse stepped through water, they created the imaginary landscape upon which the Lone Ranger and Tonto rode.
As the actors gathered around one microphone, Mr. Foy spoke more than anyone else. Along with the narration, he read the commercials, often for General Mills cereals.
"Never did I think I would be remembered for that show," he told the Globe. "When we were doing it, nobody had any idea. But I have to say it was a magnificent time for radio. It was the time when you used your imagination to paint the picture."
Born in Detroit, he was the son of German immigrants and grew up with a twin sister, Betty Ann. Mr. Foy graduated from Eastern High School in Detroit, where he began acting and landed a lead role in the play "The Queen's Husband" his senior year.
"As a high school student, he wanted to be an actor," his daughter said. "That was his dream."
After graduating, he took a job as an elevator operator at a department store for $14.95 a week, and worked in dramatic productions on WMBC radio two nights a week as an unpaid intern.
In 1942, he joined the staff at WXYZ radio for $25 a week, but the initial stint didn't last. He joined the Army that year and was stationed in Cairo, where he did radio broadcasts and was stage host when comedian Jack Benny arrived to perform.
Returning to WXYZ after the war, he was picked to be the announcer for "The Lone Ranger," and later lent his voice to "The Green Hornet" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" radio series.
In 1947, he married Frances Bingham of Detroit, and they moved with their children to Connecticut when he went to work as an announcer for the ABC radio network in New York City. The call letters of the network and his signature station in Detroit provided the title for his 1986 autobiography, "Fred Foy from XYZ to ABC: A Fond Recollection."
Along with announcing Cavett's show, Mr. Foy was the unseen voice for quiz shows and the short-lived game show "The Generation Gap." Mr. Foy provided the narration for several documentaries about historical figures, and his voice was heard on national advertisements for companies such as Colgate and General Motors.
In 2000, he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, and four years later, the Motion Picture & Television Fund honored him with its Golden Boot Award, which recognizes those who, "furthered the tradition of the Western on film and in television," according to the organization's website.
"My father loved the business he was in," his daughter said. "He took such great pride and pleasure in his years with 'The Lone Ranger.' He was so grateful to be part of our country's radio and television history, and his voice is certainly iconic."
A service will be announced for Mr. Foy, who in addition to his wife and daughter leaves another daughter, Wendy Foy Griffis of Woburn; a son, Fritz, of Santa Monica, Calif.; and three grandchildren.
"Fred was a great guy," Cavett said. "It's funny how announcer is kind of a passť term now. A kid doesn't say, 'I want to grow up to be an announcer.' Back then, certain announcers became stars. Some were pompous, self-important bores, but Fred was neither a bore nor self-important."
Cavett chuckled and added, "I won't insult him by saying he was humble, but he was just a great character."
Along with his announcing duties for "The Dick Cavett Show," Mr. Foy "would be in a sketch now and then or a bit that required an old time announcer," Cavett said. "He had perfect, perfect comic timing and instincts and a real giant talent. I'll miss him."
Bryan Marquard can be reached at email@example.com.
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