Dec. 02--BRANFORD -- Mike Warren, easy-going TV companion to young Baby Boomers in the 1960s as Mr. Goober on New Haven television, died Friday at age 80.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Ronna, and five of his six children.
Born Warren Edwin Getzinger, he played the aging Mr. Goober five days a week on WNHC-8 (later to become WTNH) in a plaid shirt, overalls, a hat and wire-rimmed glasses.
"When I started that show, I was in my 20s," he told the Register in 2009 from Branford, where he lived for 44 years with Ronna. He joked that he no longer needed makeup to play Mr. Goober.
His children also had his child-tested TV character on their minds Sunday.
"Of all of our father's various personas in television, the one that came the closest to the real Warren Getzinger was Mr. Goober," said his daughter Ann Getzinger of Brooklyn, N.Y. "His charm, wit and especially his penchant for puns were always on display."
Warren in the 1970s went on to do the morning talk show "Dialing for Dollars" at Channel 8 with the late Bob Norman, even though some people told him he couldn't make the transition from kids' show character to daytime host. The show led to breezy "AM Connecticut" and "12 O'Clock Live," which continues at WTNH as "News Channel 8 at Noon" and its companion show "Connecticut Style."
Daughter Jennifer Getzinger of Los Angeles said Warren "loved the excitement of being a part of the collective experience of entertainment... And he loved finding connections with audiences of all ages. In the '60s and '70s he moved from hosting a bandstand show to a children's show to daytime talk shows -- something that would be unheard of today."
Former WTNH reporter/anchor Kenn Venit said Sunday that "Mike was a gentleman and a broadcaster, an accolade that indicates how he served the public in an exceptionally honorable fashion. He was always great to work with, and no matter what the ups and downs of life at Channel 8, he always rose above the fray and moved on to the next challenge."
Venit said he joined a great staff at Channel 8 in 1970. "Mike was part of the Bob Norman-George Thompson-Dick Galiette era when the station had many programs and personalities. Everyone was a seasoned broadcaster, and they taught me a lot about the public trust we shared."
Warren had moved to Connecticut in 1961 from his native Wisconsin to host "Connecticut Bandstand" on WNHC-TV. He then created "Mr. Goober and Friends" based on a character he developed in his home state. After his TV career, he worked in radio and marketing, his obituary says.
Warren lost his son, Scott Getzinger, in April 2012 in a crash on the Merritt Parkway in Stamford after Scott's pickup truck was struck by a Lexus and spun out of control in the oncoming lane and crossed the median divider. Scott had worked as a property master on 25 well-known theatrical films.
Jennifer Getzinger, who has broadened her father's legacy with her own work in TV as director of shows such as "Mad Men," was inspired by her father's time in TV and his good character.
"My father's ever-positive, believe-anything-is-possible attitude was infectious and made me believe I could do it too. He gave me my dream and the strength to pursue it. What greater gift is there?"
Jennifer said Sunday that the family was "talking about how much his tagline at the end of the Goober show said about the man he was: 'You be good to each other now, won't you?'"
Services are scheduled Wednesday at St. Therese Church in Branford.
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