Wait, wait . . . is that Carl Kasell?

Carl Kasell and Stephen Fletcher

NPR’s Carl Kasell and North Carolina Collection Photographic Archivist Stephen Fletcher examine photographs in the Wilson Library Grand Reading Room, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Photograph by Mark Perry.

Last Tuesday was a fun day at the office.  In the morning, library staff gave Carl Kasell a tour of Wilson Library.  Kassel, a UNC alumnus, returned to Chapel Hill for an evening event sponsored by the library moderated by WUNC radio host Eric Hodge.  Kasell was a member of UNC’s class of 1956 (although he did not graduate, having been drafted into the United States Army after four years as a student).

Kasell’s tenure at National Public Radio began in 1975 as a part-time news announcer for Weekend Edition.  Starting in 1979 he was the voice of the network’s morning news for the next thirty years.  Since retiring from that role at NPR in 2009, Kasell became a “roving ambassador,” and continued as the judge and scorekeeper for the “Oddly Informative News Quiz” Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!, which debuted in January 1998.

As you might imagine, Kasell has received several awards during his sonorous career.  In 2004 the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication inducted Kasell into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame.  In 2010 the National Radio Hall of Fame inducted Kasell into its ranks.  In March 2013 the North Carolina Press Association named Kasell “North Carolinian of the Year” for 2013, and the association made a wonderful biographical video available on their YouTube site.  Despite his stature in journalism, A View to Hugh has not been able to feature Kasell because Hugh Morton hadn’t photographed him, even though he been a co-founder of WUNC radio with Morton’s long-time friend Charles Kuralt.

Or so we thought.

Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony.  Carl Kasell, as Wanchese, is in the lower right corner of the photograph.

Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh in “The Lost Colony.”  Carl Kasell, as Wanchese, is in the lower right corner of the photograph.

We featured the above photograph a few years ago in a post about the comeback of The Lost Colony after a fire destroyed the production’s costumes and props.  Playing the role of Sir Walter Raleigh (right) is Andy Griffith.  But wait . . . wait!  Who is the fellow in the lower right corner wearing too much face paint?  None other than Carl Kasell!

As seen in the opening photograph, I showed Hugh Morton’s photograph to Mr. Kasell and he confirmed that that indeed was he in the corner.  The reference to too much face paint came from a story Kasell told during Tuesday evening’s event, when Andy Griffith told Kasell he had been a bit heavy handed in the makeup room before dress rehearsal.  Kasell confided that Griffith later helped him with a more appropriate application of face paint, and that Griffith was “a big, big help” during that season. (Kasell’s high school drama teacher was Clifton Britton, not Griffith as is often incorrectly stated on numerous web pages.)

We don’t know if Morton made the above photograph before or after that cosmetic lesson, but we now know the year Morton made the photograph: Kasell said it was 1952 after he had graduated from high school, and 1952 is the only year Kasell’s name appears in the official program.  And because we know what Kasell’s costume looked like, we can now identify other Morton photographs of Kasell.

Lillian Prince and Carl Kasell in The Lost Colony

Lillian Prince as Queen Elizabeth and Carl Kasell as Wanchese in “The Lost Colony,” 1952.

Kasell played the role of “Wanchese, an Indian chief.”  I believe as he looked at Morton’s photograph he dredged up from his memory a couple of his lines: “Mish-wi aga, Wingina” and “Wanchese no more chief.  Wanchese now king.”

Carl Kasell as Wanchese confronts Old Tom

Wanchese confronted by the character “Old Tom” holding his arquebus. “Get out of here, ye knavish rogues! Scat!”  Is this also Carl Kasell?  If so, Frederick Young played the part of Old Tom Harris in 1952.

If you couldn’t make the evening with Carl Kasell, you can watch a video recording of the event, which includes Kasell’s recollections from his performance in The Lost Colony while Morton’s photograph is projected on the screen.  Below is an image from a color transparency from the Morton collection not previously scanned.

Scene from The Lost Colony with Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh

This photograph is remarkably similar to the one that appears on the cover of the 1953 “The Lost Colony” souvenir program (see below).

1953 "The Lost Colony" Souvenir Program.

Cover of the 1953 edition of “The Lost Colony” Souvenir Program.

But least we think that the similarity between the two photographs means that Hugh Morton made the eventual 1953 cover photograph, too, here is a photograph published on page 35 of the 1952 souvenir program:

Lillian Prince and Carl Kasell pose for photographers

Lillian Prince and Carl Kasell pose during the 1952 annual press photographers day.

The cover photograph could have been made by any of the photographers above. . . . But wait . . . wait, don’t tell me!  Is that Hugh Morton (center right) among the press photographers?!