sonny eliot

Over the weekend, the papers were full of tributes to Sonny Eliot, the wisecracking weatherman who was a television icon for a few million baby boomers and their parents.

To someone new to Michigan, or anyone younger than forty, this may have seemed a trifle odd.  Sonny, who died Friday, hadn’t been on TV on a regular basis since the 1980’s.

True, his twice-daily zany weather forecasts were a beloved part of all-news AM radio until a couple years ago.  But why all this fuss over a guy who broadcast the weather?

Well, he was, indeed, one-of-a-kind; a statewide celebrity before there were such things as cable networks, or 24 hour news. But I think the answer may have as much to do with ourselves as Sonny Eliot. Sonny did deserve to be recognized. He was certainly the last person on the air who was actually present at the creation of TV broadcasting in Detroit.

Remembering Sonny Eliot (VIDEO)

Nov 16, 2012
DPTV / YouTube

Sonny Eliot, Detroit radio and television pioneer, died this morning at his home in Farmington Hills.

He was 91.

For those who don't remember Eliot, he might be best known for his role as Detroit's star weatherman. Eliot had a quick wit and predilection for puns.

Here is a taste:


FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Longtime broadcaster Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, whose corny jokes and genial manner endeared him to Detroit audiences for decades, has died. He was 91.

Friend and co-worker Don Swindell says Eliot died Friday morning at home in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills after an illness.

One of the city's most well-known media personalities, Eliot was a throwback to a time when local television established its identity through non-news programming that made up with enthusiasm and creativity.

His longest-lasting gig was as a weathercaster, first on WWJ radio in 1950 - a job he held well into the 21st century - as well as on local television stations.

Eliot retired in 2010 from broadcasting, announcing the end of his career on WWJ.

Survivors include his wife, Annette. Arrangements were pending Friday.