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Hundreds gather for "Always Sonny!" event honoring TV icon Sonny Eliot
More than 200 friends, fans and colleagues gathered last Thursday at Wayne State's Community Arts Auditorium to celebrate the life and career of TV and cultural icon Sonny Eliot.
The public memorial honored Eliot, who died Nov. 16 at age 91. Several speakers, including WSU Interim Director of Journalism Jack Lessenberry, shared fond memories of the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster.
"Sonny Eliot was an example of the quintessential Wayne State University student of the 1950s," said Matthew Seeger, professor and dean, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. "He was one of the thousands of veterans who returned from service in World War II and found that Wayne State was there to help them build their careers. Sonny was a member of the Greatest Generation, and he and other returning veterans helped to make Wayne State University great."
Eliot, born Marvin Schlossberg on Dec. 5, 1920, in Detroit, remembered the tough times of living through the Great Depression, then entering the military during World War II.
While serving as a B-24 pilot, a plane he was flying was shot down during a bombing mission over Germany. He was captured and endured 15 months in the Stalag Luft I prison camp before being freed by the Russians when the war ended.
Returning home after the war, Eliot pursued both his broadcasting career in radio and television and his studies at Wayne State. He appeared on "The Lone Ranger" and "The Green Hornet" radio programs, children's programs, quiz shows and commercials.
He was one of the few broadcasters in the country who was on the air nonstop for more than 60 years.
In 1959, he earned a bachelor's degree from Wayne State with a major in speech communication.