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'Dr. George'

‘Dr. George’

Oct. 26, 1978: Dr. George Fischbeck, Channel 7 meteorologist, is a former teacher and artist who now lectures in a television studio and uses a paintbrush on the weather board.

This photo by staff photographer Larry Bessel appeared in the Nov. 15, 1978, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Howard Rosenberg reported:

He claps his hands, flaps his arms, wiggles his bristly mustache, mugs for the camera and cannot be ignored or forgotten. Only rarely is he subdued.

“I must begin with an apology,” he started out contritely on Monday night’s weathercast. “Last Friday we got carried away and we got everything in but the forecast.”

Even a competitor appreciates the uniqueness of Channel 7 meteorologist George Fischbeck. “He’s terrific, an original,” says Channel 2 weathercaster Steve Edwards. “I don’t know anybody like him.”

It was 11:30 a.m. and Fischbeck came out of the front door of his west San Fernando Valley home as if someone inside had yelled “fire.” “Gotta run,” he said, breathlessly, dashing to his subcompact car parked in the street. His clothes were a curious blend of cowboy boots, western-cut pants, blue blazer (with a Channel 7 lapel pin) and bow tie. His silver hair looked as if it had been combed by the Santa Ana winds.

Minutes later, he was zipping along the Ventura Freeway en route to the U.S. weather station at the federal building in Westwood for the first of two briefings in preparation for his thrice-nightly weathercasts on Channel 7.

Dr. George (as he is known to nearly everyone) is the only TV weathercaster in Los Angeles who is a meteorologist. “We all have the same forecasts,” he said. “The difference is I know how it was arrived at.”

A typical Fischbeck day begins with a 60-minute briefing at the weather station. Then it’s on to KLOS to tape one of his 90-second weather-related commentaries that run at 7:45 a.m. daily. Next destination is KABC-TV in Hollywood to prepare for the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, after which he returns home for a quick dinner with his wife of 29 years, Susanne. He leaves again at 9:15 for his second weather briefing, and then continues on to KABC-TV for the 11 p.m. news. He arrives home well after midnight.  …

At 4:30, Dr. George was on the phone to the weather station getting precise forecast figures, which he wrote on his hand so he wouldn’t lose them while walking to the news studio, which is in another building. En route there, he relinquished himself to fans waiting to get into ABC’s “Family Feud.” They waved and shouted. He hugged an elderly woman and gave another a big smooch, holding it while the woman’s friend snapped a picture. He mixed with the crowd as facilely as a political running for office.

Fifteen minutes later, after makeup and a conference with his cue-card writer, Dr. George waited while the artists were painting numbers and clouds on his weather board. “The tension is terrible,” he said with a sardonic grin only seconds before the 5 p.m. newscast, which begins with the “news team” striding onto the set for the camera. Dr. George calls it “Marge and Gower Champion-oriented.”

At 5:15, as Channel 7’s “anger commentator” Al Julius (Rasputin beard, open collar) was ranting before the camera, Dr. George stood passively with a pointer in his hand and a mic cord trailing from beneath his blazer like a tail. He was on at 5:21 – punching the air with his pointer, as if conducting a symphony instead of a weathercast – and off three minutes later. It was perfect except for one temperature forecast. The paint ran. …

George Fischbeck died March 25, 2015, at 92. For more about him, check out his Los Angeles Times obituary.

 

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