Nov. 16, 2012 — SAG-AFTRA members and staff mourn the passing of famed weatherman and Detroit radio and television veteran Sonny Eliot, who died Thursday at home at the age of 91. A broadcaster for more than 60 years, Eliot was a pioneer who brought his own distinct and endearing brand of humor and style to the airwaves.
Eliot started his career with appearances on The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet radio programs. He also appeared on children’s programs, quiz shows and commercials. Sonny was one of the few broadcasters in the country who worked at the same radio station (WWJ Newsradio 950) continuously for more than 60 years. At the same time, he continued his work on television bringing his jokes and genial personality to the weather and so much more for many years at Channels 2, 4 and 50.
Eliot received many accolades over his career, including citations from the American Legion and the American Meteorological Society, the Toastmaster International Award, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Excellence Award for Broadcast Personality. He was also inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) Hall of Fame, the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and was honored with the Governor's Award.
He joined AFTRA on Sept. 27, 1948 in Detroit and SAG on Oct. 9, 1950. He was a strong supporter of his union throughout his long and distinguished career. Jayne Bower, SAG-AFTRA Local Co-President and longtime colleague and friend, shared this about him today: "Sonny was so proud of the fact that he joined the union when it was AFRA – before there was even a 'T' for television! His professional longevity is overshadowed only by his enormous generosity to his friends, family and fellow broadcasters and union members. He was a treasure.”
Eliot was born Marvin Schlossberg on December 5, 1920 and from then onward his life experiences were as interesting and dynamic as he was. While Eliot was known for his lighthearted take on life, he had a serious side as well. He was an avid reader, wrote four children's books, spoke German and French, and understood Spanish. He grew up near downtown Detroit, graduating from Central High School. Before starting a radio and television career that ran longer than that of any other broadcaster in Detroit history, Sonny served his country in World War II as a B-24 bomber pilot. He was shot down over Germany and spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. He went on to earn a B.A. in English and an M.A. in mass communications at Wayne State University, and to serve as captain in the Air Force Reserves.
Survivors include his wife, Annette, to whom he was married for more than 50 years. Private funeral services have been arranged by the Dorfman Chapel. At the family’s request, the funeral, interment and shiva will be private. A public service celebrating Eliot's life will be held at a later date. To send a message to Eliot’s family, please visit his memorial page at: http://www.thedorfmanchapel.com/deceasedinfo.php?rownum=2362.