Notable People

Sidney Andorn - News Commentator

10400 Brighton Road
Sidney Andorn
Sidney Andorn

Sidney Andorn made his mark in newspapers, radio, and television during a journalism career spanning over 50 years. He was diminutive, a natty dresser with a gravelly voice, something of a gentle gadfly, an incessant pipe smoker, and widely known in city civic and political circles, which he mined assiduously for his gossip columns.

He was proud of having performed with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, playing the typewriter in Leroy Anderson’s composition, “The Typewriter,”

Sidney Ignatius Andorn was born on September 25, 1906, in Newark, Ohio. He moved to Cleveland with his family in 1912. As an undergraduate at Adelbert College, he worked nights as a sports writer at the Cleveland Press.

After graduating from Western Reserve University with a degree in English, he became a full-time newsman at the Press in 1929.

Breaking in on the entertainment and sports beats, Andorn was soon assigned to write Cleveland’s first gossip column for the Press. Modeled after Walter Winchell’s pioneering Your Broadway and Mine in the New York Evening  Graphic, Andorn’s was called “The Minute Review” and subheaded “Read It While You Boil an Egg.”

In 1935, Andorn moved to the fledgling field of radio to do a gossip column for WGAR. Over the next fifteen years, he also did news commentaries and a ground-breaking “Open Forum” program, in which listeners were invited to phone in questions on civic issues to be answered by experts visiting in the studio with Andorn.

Other area firsts included the first broadcast from a moving train and the first from a mobile unit. In 1944, he won a commendation from the city council for his coverage of the East Ohio Gas Company explosion and fire, when a tank containing liquid natural gas equivalent to 90 million cubic feet exploded, setting off the most disastrous fire in Cleveland’s history.

Andorn broke into television in 1950, when he became the program director for WXEL (later WJW). Andorn was quoted as saying, “I wanted to see what made the new gizmo (television) work.” He recalled filling in gaps in live programming with shots of wallpaper patterns over a musical soundtrack. Later in his career, he returned to Channel 8 as host of the “Cleveland Caucus,” a civic affairs program.

Leaving television in 1954, Andorn wrote a column for the Cleveland News until it was sold six years later. He returned to WGAR, doing news commentaries for a time, and he did a stint on WHK radio from 1969 to 1973.

In the late seventies, he delivered sharply worded daily commentaries on WCLV Radio, hosted the popular, long-running “Cleveland Caucus” on WJW Channel 8, and wrote free-lance Columns.

A City Club member served as president in 1966 and instituted its summer outdoor debates in the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Garden. He also taught broadcast journalism and mass communications at Cuyahoga Community College. Late in his career, Andorn’s news commentaries were heard over WCLV-FM, and his column appeared in the Sun Newspapers.

Andorn married Jessie Brown Semple on August 13, 1938. They had a daughter, Ann (Johnson), a pharmacologist-psychiatrist at University Hospitals.

Sidney remarried Miriam Cramer, a well-known playwright, lecturer, ballet teacher, and fashion designer in the Cleveland area. She was born in 1905 and graduated from Flora Stone Mather College in 1928, then from Western Reserve University’s School of Graduate Studies in 1941 after writing “More Love Brother” for her master’s thesis. This musical play, concerning the North Union Shaker community in the 1860s, was performed at Cain Park in 1945. She also studied dance with Eleanor Frampton and Martha Graham and taught at Laurel and Cain Park schools.

Sidney had been diagnosed in June 1960 with lung cancer. He died on his 75th birthday at his daughter’s home on September 9, 1960, in Cleveland Heights and was buried in New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, New York. He was survived by his second wife, the former Miriam Cramer, and a daughter, Dr. Anne Andorn.

Robert Conrad, vice-president and program manager at WCLV, when asked to describe Mr. Andorn’s appeal, “He had an unpredictable viewpoint. It was hard to label him either a conservative or a liberal. He had a refreshing approach to many and varied topics all over the board. We had many reactions to his commentary - both pro and con to what he had to say. He would really stir the natives up.”