Ben Erle Laurie Was A Friend Of Mine


Ben, who was a year or two younger than me, listened to my Top 40 show on KTBB in Tyler.  That really surprised me because his family owned a small radio station not far away in Jacksonville, just south of Tyler.

Ben called me on the phone one day and asked if it would be okay for him to come to the station and watch me do my show sometime.  I consider Ben as my first fan!  A few days later Ben came to KTBB just as I was going on the air and sat and watched and listened to me for my whole show.

The time-honored way to break into radio is to hang around and become some other deejay’s gopher…go fer coffee, go fer a hamburger, go fer etc.  I started out as a gopher for Don Keyes and Jim Randolph at KLIF in Dallas, which led to my first paying gig.  Pat Tallman started as my gopher at KTSA.  Pat then went to San Antonio College, which lead to a night gig on KMAC and later to KTSA.

Over the years Ben and I became good friends.  We seldom actually saw each other because we never worked in the same market at the same time.  However, we did talk on the phone somewhat regularly

Late one evening Ben called me at home to “cry in his beer.”  He had taken his girl (a real beauty) to a record promoter’s cocktail party at the old Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas.  The party was to honor the handsome Hollywood actor, popular romantic singer and somewhat of a roué, Robert Goulet.

It seems that Mr. Goulet was taken with Ben’s girl and she with him.  When the party began to wind down later in the evening, Ben went looking for his girl.  She was nowhere to be found.  Finally, Ben asked his host if he had seen her.

The host replied, “Your pretty girl with the great shape…She left with Goulet over half an hour ago!”

Ben called me at home later that night.  I was sympathetic to his pain.  After we had talked about an hour, I asked Ben if he was going to try to ‘make up’ with his girl.

Ben was incredulous, “Are you kidding!  I’m going to return the ring I bought for that ‘witch’ as soon as I can and get my money back!”

Ben never spoke to her again.

Over the years Ben and I have had many laughs about that evening.

Ben was a really nice guy.

Frank Bell

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