Bob Steele Collection
Scope and Content
The bulk of the papers in the Bob Steele Collection were gathered by Steele's son, Phil Steele, as he prepared to publish Bob Steele's Century, a ten volume compilation about his father. For the most part, they remain in the chronological order Phil Steele initiated. To aid in preservation, the photographs have been moved to a series of their own. The remaining materials have been sorted into the following series: Personal Papers, Scrapbooks, and Radio. Information about Bob's personal and professional lives overlap, particularly in the Scrapbook series. Further descriptions of each series may be found below. Items not used in the publication have, when possible, been added chronologically. The remainder were added to the Topical section of the Radio series. This finding aid also contains a list of the material objects in the collection.
- 1912 - 2003
The records are stored in a restricted area and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.
See Hartford History Center’s Collection Use policy. Permission to publish from the Collection must be obtained in writing from curator of the Hartford History Center, and a copy of the published work may be requested by the Hartford History Center. The Hartford History Center reserves the right to refuse permission to publish, etc. to those who have not complied with its policies. Use of the collections will normally not be permitted for the purpose of promotion of commercial products and services or political campaigns. Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library reserves the right to limit the number of photographic prints/captures and to restrict the use or reproduction of rare, fragile, or valuable objects.
Robert Lee Steele was born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 13, 1911. The middle name on his birth certificate is actually Jesse, but he chose to change it to Lee. He began his first job at age seven, in a drug store. At age 18 he owned and operated a restaurant. It was also about this point that he entered the boxing ring. Bob's career continued with motorcycle racing. In 1930 he moved to Los Angeles. During his six years there he sold motorcycles, worked as a stunt man in movies, and announced auto and motorcycle races over public address systems and a Los Angeles radio station. It was motorcycling that brought him to Hartford. Well-known Hartford jeweler Bill Savitt needed an announcer for races he was sponsoring at Bulkeley Stadium. When the season ended, Bob planned to return to Los Angeles. With some time to spare, he made his way to WTIC and applied to be an announcer. He started on October 1, 1936 and was a fixture on the air for 55 years. His official retirement was September 30, 1991. Bob continued to make periodic appearances on the program until a few weeks before his death, December 6, 2002.
Bob married Astrid Shirley Hanson, of West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1938 (she later changed her first name to Shirley). The couple made their home in Wethersfield, Connecticut and raised four sons: Robert Hampton Steele, Paul Alan Steele, Philip Lee Steele, and Steven Michael Steele. Among his accomplishments during his time in Hartford, Bob included the following in the obituary he prepared.
Retired vice-president WTIC Radio, announcer, morning personality and sports director. Member National Radio Hall of Fame, Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame, four times named Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year, recipient of Marconi Award for top radio ratings, received Pierpont Edwards Award for distinguished Masonic service, 33 degree Mason, 50-year Shriner, Honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters) University of Hartford. A wordsmith, he was instrumental in establishing the Bob Steele Literacy Volunteers Reading Center in Hartford, and authored "The Word of the Day: 65 Years of Wit & Wisdom on Mispronunciation" this fall."
At the time of his death, Bob had eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
6.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Papers of Hartford, Connecticut radio legend, Bob Steele.
The collection is closed. Additional accruals are not expected.
Collection was processed by Jennifer Sharp in 2013.
EAD Finding Aid created February 2013.
- Bob Steele Collection
- A guide to the collection at the Hartford History Center
- Jennifer Sharp
- February 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description