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John Cameron Swayze

Radio and television journalist. Born 1906. Died 1995.

For many years,  Swayze was one of the best known Kansans in America due to his work in radio and television.  Swayze was born in Wichita and went to school in Atchison. He attended Kansas University for a while and then went to New York to see if he could have a successful acting career.  When that did not work out he returned to Kansas, found work in Kansas City at a newspaper, and then anchored a local radio news show.

Within a few years he was a reporter for NBC.  His “News Caravan” was the first evening news program on network television.

Swayze left journalism and became known as a much-in-demand advertising “pitchman.”  He helped advertise H & R Block income tax services, Orkin exterminators and, most famously, Timex watches.  His commercials for Timex watches became as famous for themselves as for the product they advertised.  Using everything from outboard motor blades to an elephant, the watches would be subject to seemingly catastrophic on-camera punishment.  As the television cameras zoomed in for a close-up of the watch, if it still was running Swayze would say, “Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

Entry: Swayze, John Cameron

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: May 2012

Date Modified: May 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.