TV legend Brian North provides sanctuary for local animals
Brian North indicates the number of baby squirrels currently residing in his beard. Photo by Brian North
Brian North has been a fixture on television for several decades, making his debut on the DuMont Network series "Sports Whittling" in 1947.
After a brief flirtation with a career as an actor that reached its zenith with a portrayal of "Rockette No. 5" in the 1967 CBS Playhouse production of "The Radio City Rockettes Share A Bowl of Soup," North turned his attention to sports journalism.
North is known for his news acumen, his sports exclusives and an Apple Brown Betty that'll melt your shoes. But as some viewers may have noticed over the last few months, North has been sporting a rather bulbous beard.
"Every year during his vacation, he grows that beard," North's stylist Carla Welch said. "The first year he did it, I was taken by surprise. He boasted it only took two weeks to fully grow in, but upon further inspection, we realized a family of squirrels had nested on his face. To North's credit, he didn't evict them.
"In fact, they lived quite comfortably off the crumbs in his beard for many months."
Welch says the beard tradition started out as a lark but has morphed into a cottage industry.
"You wouldn't believe the amount of dough the station has to kick in annually to keep that beard up to code," Welch said. "It's now part of the landscaping budget. North is a generous tipper, but he makes the poor guy rake his beard three times a day. What's worse is that doing so causes his right leg to jump as if he were a puppy who's having his tummy scratched.
"Don't get me started on the panting."
With the advent of high definition television cameras, North's beard is now under more scrutiny than ever.
"I've been Brian North's intern for four months," Kinston's Michael Gagliano said. "Most of the time, he's very easy-going. He likes to talk sports, watch 'Seinfeld' reruns and knit the occasional baby bootie for his kittens, Allegra and Precious."
Gagliano says every year around vacation time, North gets "all loopy" about his beard.
"This year, he had me draw a diagram of his beard, assign a catalog number to each individual hair follicle and notate how they responded to different foods, types of music and temperatures," Gagliano said. "Based on the raw data, the beard thrives when North eats pasta in a 73-degree Fahrenheit room while listening to either Faron Young or Kendrick Lamar."
Even though North has driven some of his colleagues to the edge of sobriety with his beard obsession, his stylist says all is not lost.
"The amount of money spent on North's beard grooming products - including the Coconut and Moroccan Argan Hair Pomade that has to be imported from South Carolina - is great for the economy," Welch said. "There are people who work in beard trimmer factories in Papua New Guinea that display framed photos of North in their homes and sing folk songs about him during the rainy season."
Brian North's beard is scheduled to be released back into the Croatan National Forrest sometime next week.
Jon Dawson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jondawson.com.