Andrew Alex Limber is a native of LaPorte, Indiana, who came to Arizona with his mother and father in October 1944. Andy became what was probably the youngest businessman in the state at the age of 12 in 1948 when his father died and he took over running the family-owned Rex Ice Cream store in downtown Phoenix, the site where the new City Hall now sits.
Starting off training to be a foreign service officer at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C., Andy decided that government work was not for him. He later attended and graduated from Arizona State University in 1958. While at ASU, he also managed the campus radio station and worked as a disc jockey and salesman at KPOK Radio in Scottsdale.
Andy was continuity director and a commercial writer/producer at KTVK-TV, Channel 3 in Phoenix, when it was owned by the late Arizona Governor, U. S. Senator and state Supreme Court Justice, Ernest McFarland. After two years, he was hired by the Allen C. Reed agency to write and produce commercials for its primary client, Hallcraft Homes, and its memorable spokeswoman, Jeanne Metzger. Andy and the agency received the only Emmy ever awarded for outstanding commercials by the Phoenix Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
After five years with the Reed Agency, Andy opened his own ad agency in 1965, experiencing steady growth with accounts in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado and Hawaii. In the mid-1980s, Andy all but phased out of the conventional ad agency business when he teamed up with Ray Lindstrom and Mac Jett to eventually develop and produce approximately 80 percent of all the television "infomercials" airing nationwide at that time.
Andy was known as the "Voice of the Guard" when he was a member of Headquarters Company, 123d Public Information Detachment (Field Service), Arizona Army National Guard. For his exceptional military and public communications skills, Gov. Paul Fannin awarded Andy the Outstanding Enlisted Man trophy in ceremonies at Fort Huachuca.
Today, Andy is executive director of the Arizona Business Council for Alcohol Education, a non-profit organization founded in 1985 for the purpose of teaching Title 4 liquor law statewide to the licensees, managers and employees of the hospitality industry.
Andy is a widower with three adult childrena daughter and two sons and has four grandchildren. He resides in Scottsdale with Sophia Loren.
In my 40 some years in advertising and in film, video and radio production, I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of on and off-camera performing talents, including some Hollywood folks who were household names.
Among all the names, all the handsome and beautiful faces, all the distinctive voices and engaging personalities, the one person who remains most special above all the rest is Jeanne Metzger.
I was in my early 20s and working as the continuity director and copywriter at KTVK-TV-3 in Phoenix when I was hired in 1961 by the Allen C. Reed Advertising Agency to script and produce television and radio commercials for Hallcraft Homes. I had seen Jeanne on the air as the builder's "Hallcraft Hostess," but only when I first met her in person did I realize what an incredibly beautiful person she was in all respects.
How Jeanne became at the time the preeminent female commercial television personality in the Phoenix market is a remarkable story. At the center is Allen Reed, a brilliant, unassuming man who could rightfully claim to be a professional artist, writer, photographer, advertising strategist and marketing innovator, among other disciplines and abilities. In 1957, Allen and Hallcraft Homes founder and president, John C. Hall, decided that the rapidly growing builder needed a human media symbol, someone who would not just present house features, but represent the very essence of home ownershipthe family.
The spokesperson Allen selected was Jeanne Metzger, the pretty, statuesque wife of local insurance executive Bob Metzger. In terms of appearance, voice, camera presence and credibility, Jeanne had it alland something extra: She was pregnant with the couple's first child. In what was largely a prudish America at the time, it was unheard of for a pregnant woman to appear on television, let alone in regularly scheduled commercials. But this was the genius of Allen Reed. What better symbolizes the home than motherhood, Allen reasoned. While there was some criticism of Allen, Hallcraft and Jeanne, many people, especially women, responded positively to Hallcraft's with-child spokeswoman, and it was reflected in increased home sales.
Another element in the Hallcraft media "style" created by Allen Reed was the general impression that Jeanne was speaking more or less extemporaneously. In truth, every word and every on-camera movement was carefully choreographed and scripted. In the early days, it was Allen himself who wrote and produced Hallcraft commercials. Later, this responsibility was passed on to the talented Chuck Abbott, whom I succeeded in 1961.
Before beginning any scripting, I studied Jeanne's speech pattern and determined the type of phrasing and enunciation she was most comfortable with, and would avoid using a short list of words that gave her trouble. Combined with her wonderfully natural speaking ability, Jeanne took my words and made them seem as if she had authored them, as if it all came from within her without any writing or coaching involved. Another vital ingredient that made it all work so well is that Jeanne, as well as I, truly believed in the product. Hallcraft really did build good, solid, attractive homes for middle-class Arizonans.
Nowhere was Jeanne's talent and beauty more evident than in the flagship of Hallcraft's advertising, Hallcraft Theatre, the 10 p.m. Saturday night feature film program on Channel 3 (KTVK). There was a brief on-camera opening and closing, and only three Hallcraft Homes commercials within the show.
In 1964, after enjoying success with its townhouse concept introduced in the metro Phoenix area the year before, Hallcraft took its building skills to an attractive property south of downtown Denver, Colorado and created Cherry Creek Townhouses.
The advertising model for the Denver development was identical to the Arizona elements, including at the forefront, Hallcraft Hostess Jeanne Metzger.
By now, I was in addition to writer-producer, the agency's media buyer and vice president. For months, I practically lived in Denver, a terrific city with a very hospitable media community. The build up to the grand opening Sunday of Cherry Creek Townhouses was enormous, and by the time the day actually came, Hallcraft and Jeanne Metzger were well on the way to being an established part of the mile-high city. We expected a good turnout, but no one was prepared for the 50,000 people who showed up to see Cherry Creek Townhouses for the first time.
Jeanne was such a joy to work withalways prepared, always pleasant, and never displaying any artistic temperament. Our audio sessions with Jack Miller (probably the best audio recording engineer-artist in the universe) were a satisfying blend of serious professionalism and good-natured humor whenever someone, including Jeanne, goofed.
I can still hear Jeanne's laughter, which was always infectious, generating more laughs from everyone in the studio. A part of many of these sessions was Jeanne's male counterpart on radio commercials, the late Don Tuckwoodanother exceptional talent who left us far too soon.
If she so desired, Jeanne could have easily "gone national" as a commercial talent, or as an on-air personality for one of the networks. But she was, above all, a wife and mother, and keeping a balance between her career and her home life was extremely important to her. Occasionally, she ventured into non-Hallcraft territory by doing a national spot for Dove Soap and one for Dishmaster Corporation. But for the most part, Jeanne placed her family above her performing career.
Jeanne's life was not without its human sorrows. Her first-born, Robert Metzger, Jr. was killed in an auto accident. In 1990, her husband Bob passed away. A few years later, she would meet and marry Ronald Michael, with whom she enjoyed 12 years together.
My five years with the Allen Reed Agency were among the most personally and professionally gratifying in my career. Not the least of my great memories are those countless hours working with the extraordinary talent and the beautiful person that was Jeanne Metzger Michael.