Bob Kelley — the voice of the Rams


Bert Convy … or Dave Brubeck.

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Too bad I never got the chance to listen to Bob Kelley. Sounds like he was one of a kind.

Kelley was the longtime Ram voice who was only 49 when he died in
. He had been with the Rams since they moved to Los Angeles.

How big was Kelley? Here’s how Jim Murray described him in a 1961
column: "Kelley became a major figure in the L.A. sport scene, not
necessarily a universally popular one because he dealt in controversy.
… Bob was not so good a baseball announcer as football but he blew on
the flames of enmity between the old Pacific Coast League Angels and
Hollywood Stars so energetically that sellout crowds usually attended
the city series and Life Magazine once made a lead story out of a brawl
he had fanned."

By 1958, Kelley was splitting his time with the Rams between TV and
radio, broadcasting the road games with Gil Stratton on Channel 2. Don
Page’s story in The Times about Kelley called him one of the best
technical announcers in the business–but he also called him

A big part of the controversy came from his nightly radio show.
Murray said the show "made as many people gnash their teeth as cheer.
But they listened. His mail was sulphuric. But they wrote."

Kelley spent one season with the Angels’ broadcasting team in 1961.
Murray’s column followed on the news that he resigned from the baseball
job. According to Murray, Kelley only got the job by promising no feuds
or controversy. To The Times’ columnist, that was "like giving a
sedative to a fast horse. That made Kelley as dull as the league.

"I personally think it’s a damn shame.  Even when I didn’t agree
with a bloody word he said I was entertained by the way Bob Kelley said


About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in broadcasting, Columnists, Sports, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bob Kelley — the voice of the Rams

  1. Arye Michael Bender says:

    The Billy Barnes (satirical) Revue launched many a TV career. Anything that gave us Charles Nelson Reilly can’t be all bad. Can it?


  2. MichaelRyerson says:

    Well, I heard Kelley calling the Rams many times (in fact, I can hear his voice now) and I can tell you he had a nice delivery, measured, informed and, as far as we radio listeners could tell, accurate. His voice had kind of a smoky timbre to it, not unpleasing which made a long afternoon pass enjoyably. I don’t think I’m saying anything which hasn’t been said many times when I say among his many interests he was an enthusiastic drinker (this was not rare in his profession in those days) and this may have led to his early passing. He was a southern California original from a much more colorful time.


  3. Jeff Prescott says:

    Hope you know that his son is legendary KMET news guy (and great golfer) Pat “Paraquat” Kelley!!!!


  4. Jim Hilliker says:

    Some of you may know that the late Jim Healy was the writer for Bob Kelley’s Parade of Sports programs on KMPC in the 1950s and early-’60s. Healy, who later did much sports on TV and radio, including his sports programs for KLAC and KMPC from the 1970s until his death at age 70 in 1994, paid tribute many times to his old boss, Bob Kelley….
    On one tribute, after playing the 1966 KMPC newscast announcing the death of Bob Kelley, Healy said that Bob Kelley was the first big-league radio announcer this city had ever heard…Kelley, who came to L.A. when his beloved Rams moved from Cleveland in 1946, showed us what a big-league football announcer sounded like, more than 10 years before Vin Scully came here to show us what a big-league baseball announcer sounded like. Healy called Kelley the best play-by-play radio announcer he had ever heard, but years of hard living later caught up with him and his speech and delivery were not as good as before and slowed him down, which sounded like it on the air….He was fired just before the 1966 season began in favor of Dick Enberg, and died a few weeks later, according to Healy, “of a broken heart.”
    Years later in 1991, when Healy got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he noted that it was too bad his boss, Bob Kelley never got a star on the Walk of Fame.


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