“An Actor is an emissary of the Devil.”This comment was delivered to Art Van Harvey by his mother when he expressed an early desire to go on the stage.
Consequently, it was not until a little more than five years ago that Art started his radio career. Now he’s playing Vic in the Vic and Sade dramatic sketch heard every week day over an NBC-WEAF network, and listeners throughout the country are so enthusiastic over the program that laudatory comments literally come in bunches.
The success of Art Van Harvey is simply another instance of an artist gaining an ambition, overcoming early handicaps and finally emerging into a well-ordered existence along the lines of his youthful desires and ambitions.
It was a long and arduous trail that Art had to travel. He broke into the working world in a stock and grain brokerage house, found it very dull and far from his desires, went on at vaudeville tour for several years, worked in an advertising agency and then turned to radio.
BORN IN CHICAGO
He was born in Chicago and took great delight in imitating people when he was a youngster. Art Van Harvey used to sit around and watch people. Then when they departed he would pick out some pecularity which he had notices and put on an imitating act with astounding fidelity. This was the youngster expressing himself in terms that were to playa heavy part in his later life.
All the time that Art was working in the brokerage house, and in vaudeville and in advertising he was studying people and dialects. During his five-year spell in advertising he was building up his dialects until finally a friend suggested that he try radio.
He received an audition, clicked immediately, and had been on the air ever since. For a little over a year he has been associated with Bernadine Flynn and Billy Idelson in the Vic and Sade daily series.
In portraying the character of Vic on the air, Art comes about as close as anyone to realizing his ambition. He likes dialect or humerous father roles and a Victor Rodney Gook he throws himself into the part with such vigor and faithfulness that there are many times he completely loses himself in the role and finds that he has to stop and laugh over the situations that overcome Vic. When that occurs, Sade has to step ahead and ad-lib until vic recovers.
It is singularly satisfying to Art that his portrayal of Vic is becoming so well known and is so true to life that his friends have started calling him Vic.
A NATURAL IMITATOR
Art Van Harvey is known the Chicago studios of NBC as an “eight-threat” man, He is so proficient with various dialects that almost any character is at his disposal. His dialects aren’t “staged.” He is a natural imitator and picks up his information in the natural surroundings of the folk he is trying to portray.
Art wanders around various sections of the city. His Jewish dialect was picked up in Chicago’s ghetto district. Art’s mother is Irish and he used to listen to Irish folk and their brogue. He has had his hair cut in the same shop by the same Italian for 17 years. Thus-- the Italian dialect. Others were aquiring in similar fashion,
But there’s one stumbling block which Art hasn’t been able to overcome yet. He can’t produce just the right Dutch accent, and that despite the fact that his father was a native of Holland.
Art would rather tell a story that listen to one, and loves to fins a good audience so he can break loose with a flock of dialect yarns. He is most careful student of radio and listens faithfully to many programs, particularly dramatic sketches. He can produce an imitation of Ed Wynn that is so natural that people are hard to convince that it wasn’t really Wynn himself. Maybe the fact that Art Van Harvey wears horn-rimmed spectacles has something to do with it.
He swims and golfs for exercise, and plays pinochle and bridge for amusement. Art is extremely fond of pets and has a secret ambition to build up a menagerie. Art met his wife on a blind date. She lived just a block away but he had never seen her before. Now they live in Austin, on the west side of Chicago so that he can easily reach the NBC studios by elevated.
Van Harvey is just as surprised over the daily doings of Vic and Sade as the radio listeners. That’s because he doesn’t see the script for the script for the sketch until a few minutes before time to go on the air. He likes that idea, as the character never goes stale on him.
FANS LIKE HIM
He receives many letters which indicate that listeners try to pick Art’s voice out of other programs. Fans seem to take great delight in “discovering” him, but most of the time, he chuckles, they are all wrong. However, such business touches him and makes him feel that everything is worth while.
Art has a warm, personal feeling for people. He likes to receive letters and takes delight in putting his feet up on a desk and reading them, chuckling over the reactions of his public.
Art is having more fun than ever this summer. Many world’s fair visitors are dropping into the NBC studios at Chicago for a look at Vic & Sade.
He attributes his success to his “natural gift,” and if he had a million dollars he’d travel. He might even give up radio, but says “give me the million first, and then I’ll decide.”
Article written by:
NBC Advance Program Service
711 Fifth Ave
New York, NY
Volume VII, #37
Sunday, September 10, 1933
CLICK HERE FOR ART'S OBITUARY