Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Robert L. Garthwaite

Robert Garthwaite, after serving three years in the navy and having graduated from the Feagin School of Drama in New York, began his career in what he calls "show business" by appearing in numerous off-broadway productions. He then enrolled at the American Theater Wing, studying dance, music, voice, and drama. Short of funds, Bob accepted a part-time job as a tour guide with NBC. It was the opening he needed. "The rest," he wrote, "is history".

The part-time job turned into a twenty-year career in which Bob became one of the first Production Coordinators in the new Television Department. From Tour Guide to Production Coordinator was but a start. He then moved to Manager of Unit Managers, to Supervisor of Program Directors, to Coordinator of New Program Development, to Production Manager, To Assistant Producer, to Associate Producer, and finally to Producer/Director with the prestigious NBC Special Projects Program Unit.

The following commentary that accompanied his award-winning production for NBC, "The Ship That Wouldn't Die", captured the quality of his work:

"...his imaginative use of motion picture footage, still photographs, art, music, narration, and on-camera performers were a major contributor in the NBC Special Projects and Project Twenty units' success in capturing the real life drama of people and events that have influenced the course of twentieth century man."

Bob left NBC to continue his career as an Independent Producer/Director. Since then he has produced over 100 hours of programming for syndication throughout the United States, including ulti-media presentations for the Smithsonian Institution, the State Cultural Center of West Virginia, as well as numerous programs and visual presentations for various civic, historical, private, and religious organizations and foundations.

Bob's programming achievements have been recognized by having won all of the major television awards, including the Certificate of Merit from the United States Navy, the Western Heritage Award, the Gabriel Award, the Golden Eagles Award from CINE, and several awards from the Freedom Foundation.

His production experiences have taken him to the White House, to Buckingham Palace, to the Taj Mahal. Among the people with whom he has worked one must cite Presidents Eisenhower, Hoover, and Ford, Prime Minister Attlee, Rose Kennedy, James Gardner, Gene Kelly and Emmett Kelly, Jose Ferrer, Jason Robards, Christopher Plummer, Bob Hope, Count Basie, and a host of other famous and important people.

Bob's programming celebrates the wonder of life, the importance of achievement, and the greatness of America's nationbuilding experience. Such programs as "Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine", a series of wide-ranging half-hour programs for children, "Working", produced for Nickleodeon, and "The President: 76 years on Camera" exemplify his interests and concerns. Of special note is the program "Wisdom", a series of conversations with major figures such as authors Somerset Maugham and Pearl Buck, scientists Harlow Shapley and Margaret Mead, and builders Robert Moses and Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menniger foundation. Here was the prototypic format for many programs on PBS today.

Bob's career has spanned the spectrum of possibilities, acting, directing, producing, narrating, advertising, and voiceovers as well as the gamut of media: television, radio, print, and stage. Currently living in Arizona, Bob is concentrating on advertising, having appeared in thirty commercials (television, radio, and print), and on resuming his acting career. He has recently trod the boards in productions of "Witness for the Prosecution", "Ten Little Indians", The "Mousetrap", and "A Funny Thing Happened at the Forum" for a variety of theaters. The latest word is that he is in rehearsal for a production of "Cantorial".

As a final note one cannot forget the contributions Bob has made here in Ocean County. We all remember -- and some performed in -- "The Blockhouse Fight". He also helped make possible "Ocean County", a film essay on our 130 year history and "Memorable Moments", a series of ninety-one radio spots recalling historical moments in the growth of Ocean County.


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