Former Detroit broadcaster was inspiration for 'Ron Burgundy'

Dec 4, 2013

You might remember Mort Crim from way back when. He was a senior editor and anchor for the evening news at Detroit's WDIV-TV from 1978 to 1997.

If you don't remember him from that era, you might know him as the Majic Window Guy.

Here are some clips featuring Crim while he anchored at WDIV:

It turns out, Crim was the inspiration for Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character.

Ferrell explained to the New York Times how the idea came to him (before he was in Detroit, Mort Crim anchored newscasts in Philadelphia):

The inspiration for the original “Anchorman” came one evening more than a decade ago when Mr. Ferrell was watching a television documentary about Jessica Savitch, one of the first women to anchor news telecasts. He was struck by a former co-anchor of hers in Philadelphia, who delivered his reminiscences in a silky baritone. “He literally said the line: ‘You have to remember, back then I was a real male chauvinist pig. I was not nice to her.’ ”

Philadelphia Magazine's Victor Fiorillo reports that 'silky baritone' came from Mort Crim.

Fiorillo got in touch with Crim at his Florida home and asked if he had taken offense to the character. 

I didn’t take any offense to it. I have been parodied before in other situations in my public life. In fact, they wrote a rock-and-roll song which played on the air in Detroit when I was on the air there. It was called “Mort Crim’s Hairspray.” People thought I’d take offense. But it was fun. I’ve got a great sense of humor.

The magazine even got Crim to read a few Ron Burgundy lines, such as, "Well, if you were a man, I'd punch you. I'd punch you right in the mouth."

Crim's voice is a pretty good match.

You can judge for yourself. Here's "Ron Burgundy" co-anchoring a real newscast in Bismarck, North Dakota:

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