Ray and Tom Magliozzi with their cartoon likenesses for their cartoon show years ago.
BY GERRY MILES
The world lost one of its greatest laughs today.
Tom Magliozzi, the second half of “Click and Clack” on NPR’s famed radio show, passed away due to Alzheimer’s disease it was revealed today on their website at the age of 77.
The sad news from “Car Talk Plaza” read:
Dear Friends and Family,
It’s my sad duty to report that our friend and colleague, Tom Magliozzi, passed away this morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Tom was the most buoyant, engaging, brilliant and funny person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I know many of you feel the same way. The legacy he and his brother leave us, Car Talk, has changed radio broadcasting, and has had a life-altering affect on millions and millions of listeners over several generations—many who have never met Tom, but feel like he’s a close friend.
There is little we can do today except be grateful we knew this unusual, creative, fun-loving, uncompromising, endearingly honest man. I know you join me in sending your thoughts to his loved ones today.
For those of you who work with us, we will be in touch in the coming days to discuss our on-going projects. We are celebrating Tom’s public life on the show’s web site, cartalk.com
, and we invite you to join us there.
For those who care to, his family has asked that in lieu of flowers, friends and listeners make a contribution in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Association or their favorite public radio stations.
Having known Tom and Ray for years, he was as down to earth as anyone could be, without any desire for the fame they had achieved across the airwaves and will no doubt fill the http://www.cartalk.com website and journals in telling tributes.
They were rock stars without the band…as one of their CDs is titled “Born NOT to Run” with Tommy spoofing on Bruce Springsteen’s pose of his musical CD.
To go on a press trip and have someone learn I’m from Boston – it’s easier to say that then explain what and where New Hampshire is even though we hold the first in the nation primary – invariably the next question would be: have you ever met Click and Clack?
I’d say yes, I’ve known them for a while now and they’re great guys.
When I’d respond positively the very next question was always: So what are they really like? Is all that laughing and joking an act? And who’s the one that laughs like a hyena?
Yes they’re really like that.
They liked nothing better than to have a laugh and joke and smile every single day: especially if it was a trick at someone else’s expense. Staffers have retold that if you ever “went to lunch” with them to never visit the restroom or chances were strong you’d find an empty table with a bunch of noses pressed against the glass watching you have to pick up the entire bill.
The hyena laugh belonged to Tommy. And yes he got quasi-gassed from his laughter.
Tommy often described himself as the Italian brother who looked like a rabbi with the Don King fly-away hairdo and falsetto laugh with an attraction for cheap Hawaiian shirts.
That was spot on, too.
At the New England Motor Press Association, we were honored to have them at our annual Christmas party where when pressed they’d harmonize acapella and toss in some soft-shoe shuffling that wowed everyone. It was just Tom and Ray having fun, making people smile and enjoying a laugh.
Click and Clack, both MIT graduates, finally addressed their alma mater in 1998.
You just can’t split up a duo that needs one half to play off the other.
Imagine the Smothers Brother?
Mutt without Jeff.
Abbott without Costello?
Ralph Kramden without Norton to chase out of the apartment?
Click and Clack aka the Tappett Brothers of NPR will continue in reruns on the airwaves, but one of the nicest, genuine human beings I ever met has left us.
As NEMPA president Craig Fitzgerald wrote today, “Who ever said ‘never meet your heroes’ never met Tom Magliozzi. He was one of the kindest, most welcoming, unpretentious people I ever met.”
And so is his brother, Ray.
I wish Tommy eternal peace in Heaven with an MG that runs, doesn’t drip oil, and an endless supply of couches upon which to nap whenever he wants. He’s earned it.
RIP Tommy. RIP.