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Legendary Detroit Weatherman Sonny Eliot Dies in Farmington Hills Home

TV pioneer Eliot, 91, passed away peacefully at home in Farmington Hills.

Detroit's beloved weatherman, Sonny Eliot, passed away in his Farmington Hills home Friday. He was 91.

The Dorfman Chapel in Farmington Hills is handling funeral arrangements, which are pending.

Known for his sunny disposition and his rapid-fire quips, Eliot had a 60-year career in Detroit broadcasting and was a pioneering TV personality.

Eliot joined the staff of WWJ-TV (now WDIV) after World War II and stayed there for 35 years. He was a weatherman, host of the annual Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast and hosted an "At the Zoo" series.

After TV, he kept the fun going on WWJ radio (950 AM).

He was born Marvin Schlossberg on Dec. 5, 1920, in Detroit. Eliot was also a veteran of World War II, according the The Michigan Compainion book, and was shot down in the B-24 Bomber he flew and held fo 18 months in a German prison.

In Detroit, his voice begame a legend, and people far and wide are mourning and remembering him.

For more on Eliot's career and legacy, here are some obituaries and memorials from media far and wide:

CBS Local:

The phones in the WWJ newsroom were ringing off the hook (Thursday) with people who wanted to share their stories and celebrate the life that Eliot had shared with so many.

From his Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame entry:

“Sonny has been a strong, steady and inspirational fixture at WWJ Newsradio 950 since 1947,” writes Rich Homberg, VP and general manager of the station. “Sonny Eliot is a tireless and innovative force in Michigan Journalism.”

From the Detroit News:

"Sonny just oozed personality," said Matt Friedman, a Farmington Hills marketing executive who had worked with Eliot at WWJ. "He was the same in person as he was on the radio. He was hysterical."

From The Detroit Free Press: 

A typical one-liner: “If you’ve found the love of a woman, cherish her, appreciate her, enjoy her — and whatever you do, don’t tell your wife about it.” (The joke was ironic because Eliot was devoted to his wife, Annette.)

What's your favorite Sonny Eliot moment or quip? Tell us in comments.

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey November 16, 2012 at 02:45 PM
They don't make them like the used to. So long, Sonny. From the videos: "There was a gal up there who was married so many time she had rice marks on her face." "It'll be a fine day tomorrow to love thy neighbor, just don't get caught."
Alan Stamm November 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM
On Facebook, Mike Wendland of Oakland Township shares a priceless memory from his time at WDIV: "The very fist time I was on the set on Channel 4, giving my first I-team report. It was at the end of my piece they went to a wide shot as Mort Q&A'd me. Sonny was up next and walked right over to me and welcomed me by giving me a full kiss right on the lips! Right on the air! So much for the serious investigative reporter!"
Alan Stamm November 16, 2012 at 03:27 PM
He had a career full of 'em. Four more timeless gems: * "The storm front is moving faster than a fat lady's fork at a smorgasbord." * "We've got a high-pressure system coming our way, and we need that like Richard Simmons needs his and hers towels." [Hey, nobody claimed he was PC!] * "Ah, Muskegon -- where it's so icy the traffic has to move more slowly than a helicopter over a nudist camp." * "Just remember, if you catch cold and get a sore throat, the best way to cure it is to rub it down with alcohol -- from the inside." * Did you hear about the woman who married five different husbands all named William? She was a Bill collector."
Jane Elizabeth Brown November 16, 2012 at 04:11 PM
God Bless you Sonny. Prayers going out to your family and friends. Thank you for all of the memories as a child watching your weather reports and laughing at the silly names you would give the current conditions, like snow and drizzel would be snizzel. Also, that little town in the U P that you would remove from the map and twist with your baby finger to make a squeeky sound. You will be in our memories forever.
Joan G. Berndt November 16, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Back in the days of primitive weather broadcasts, Sonny was a standout. Besides taking off the Keewanaw peninsula from the map and making that funny sound, I most remember him talking about the town of "Nasty Hatchet" (Bad Axe.)
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods November 16, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Sonny told me the story about how, when he bailed out after his B-24 bomber was shot down during a raid on Munich in 1943, he ripped off his dog tags and threw 'em away while he was floating into Nazi Germany in his parachute. "I had to make a choice," he said. "Did I want to be an officer in the POW camp...or a Jew? Under the circumstances, I figured that decision was a no-brainer."
Virginia November 16, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Enga Renga Ringa Dinga Dinga Dine! Colder than a diplomat's smile RIP Sonny. Oh the days of a chalkboard weather map instead of STORM! ALERT! BREAKING! NEWS! complete with flashy graphics.
Marty Rosalik November 16, 2012 at 09:10 PM
No fancy color radar and I still think he was more accurate than todays weather prognosticators. My favorite was when he reminded us that "The weatherman is 85% right, 15% of the time".
John Scarcelli November 16, 2012 at 09:49 PM
When you think of weather, you think of Sonny Elliot.......this was long before dopler or any sattelites.....but if sonny said cold...it would be cold......warm etc........no one doubted Sonny's forecast.........I will miss him and hope the networks do him justice on describing his illustrious career
movinon November 17, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Thinking of Sonny Elliot I am reminded of Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful and how behind the comic lines is always deep sadness. Sonny Elliot spent 18 months in a Nazi prison camp doing his best to make everyone smile. God bless him for it.
Haulin T Male November 17, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I grew up waiting for the "shtick" Sonny would give us, about some as mundane as the weather. If out local stations need to separate them selves from each other. Try and train another "Sonny" type weather giver.
tony November 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
"Haulin" You can NEVER teach that. My wife and I were at the auto show in the late nintys and Sonny was doing the weather on WWJ in their booth as we watched. After the 5:20 as he left we said hello and mentioned growing up watching him etc. He stopped and talked with us for 5 minutes. Sonny was a true gentleman!
Thomas William Tomoff November 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Forever loved by all.....See you in Heaven, Sonny!.......
diane brown November 19, 2012 at 03:10 PM
SONNY will be by all. I remember him as a child and wish there could be another Sonny but alas a great gift like him comes very rarely. God bless. In Oklahoma but forever from Detroit.
Joe Horenkamp February 15, 2013 at 06:55 AM
So sorry to hear this. He will always be our weatherman. And btw Sonny, thank you for your service to our country.
laplateau February 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I have missed Sonny since the day they took him off the air in favor of a "more professional weather man" . RIP Sonny, and thank you for your dedicated service. I am feeling both sad and depressed...or as Sonny might say it....Sapressed.
Royal Jokester March 27, 2013 at 04:18 PM
RIP in a warm and sunny place!
AnnMarie Mannino September 24, 2013 at 08:20 AM
I did not know he passed on til now. I used to watch him when I was a little girl. So bubbly and sunny. A real pleasure to listen to the weather through him. RIP, my friend.
Haulin T Male October 03, 2013 at 09:56 AM
Tony, I understand it cant be taught, but many comedians have said they would watch and try to copy another comedian delivery...... a clue to other forecasters wannabees .

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