TV commentator Heywood Hale Broun dead at 83

Friday, September 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Heywood Hale Broun, the sports commentator known for his handlebar mustache and prose as colorful as his jackets, has died. He was 83.

Broun died Wednesday at Kingston Hospital. The cause of death was not released.

The son of newspaper columnist Heywood Broun, he had lived in Woodstock since 1948.

His television work included essays on top sports events, with his mustache bobbing and the garish plaid of his coat filling the screen.

``I think we've taken the fun out of sport by insisting that everybody must be a champion or a failure,'' he once said. ``Sports do not build character. They reveal it.''

Known as ``Woodie,'' Broun was a correspondent at CBS for 19 years.

``He had a way with words, something modern Americans don't know much about,'' said Bud Lamoreaux, his friend and former producer at CBS. ``He was a master of the metaphor, and he read more books than most people know the titles of.''

Broun's career also extended into acting. He was in TV soap operas, 14 Broadway plays and some movies, including having a bit in 1954's ``It Should Happen to You'' and the role of Judge Hiller in 1977's ``For Pete's Sake.''

``If I had a good part, it was a bad show,'' he quipped. ``If it was a good show, I had a bad part.''

He also wrote three books: ``A Studied Madness,'' ``Tumultuous Merriment'' and ``Whose Little Boy Are You?: A Memoir of the Broun Family.''

Broun had surgery this spring in Kentucky after he fell and broke his hip while visiting Keeneland, forcing him to watch the Kentucky Derby on TV from his hospital bed. Broun had covered the derby more than a dozen times for CBS, beginning in 1966.

Of the superhorse Secretariat, he once said: ``He might have taken to the air and flown.''

Throughout the 1990s, while working ``just enough to say I'm not retired,'' Broun was a frequent guest and speaker at church dinners, literacy fund-raisers, libraries and local schools.

Woodstock Times reporter Rene Houtrides, who spent time with Broun about a month ago, said he faced complications after hip surgery, including a bout with pneumonia, but never lost his vigor for life.

``He was still full of curiosity and alertness and interested and thinking about things and anecdotes,'' she said. ``None of his sort of `Woodie-ness' left him. All of that was still there.''

Broun's father, a columnist in the 1920s and 1930s, founded The Newspaper Guild and was a regular at the Algonquin Round Table in Manhattan. His mother, Ruth Hale, was an early feminist.

Broun graduated in 1940 from Swarthmore College near Philadelphia and became a newspaper baseball writer after returning from World War II.

Broun was married to actress Jane Lloyd-Jones, who died in 1991. His son, writer Hob Broun, died in 1987, four years after a spinal operation left him paralyzed from the neck down.

The funeral will be private, according to the Lasher Funeral Home in Woodstock.