Ron Ross, the man who was Fireman Frank and Engineer Ron to thousands of Utah children during the 1950s and early 1960s, took his most recent television assignment in Las Vegas very seriously.
Known to viewers of the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas as "Doc" Ross, he said he delivered weather forecasts for seven years with "intensity, honesty and integrity."If those qualities seem a bit dramatic for a television weatherman to possess, remember, this is a man who has done everything from the early morning children's television shows that endeared him to Utahns to readers' theater to ballet.
So it should come as no surprise that when Ross was reached through the Las Vegas advertising agency where he now works, he spoke of his former job in the same terms he would use to describe any of his dramatic roles.
"It was very easy to move from drama to the weather," Ross said of making the jump from community theater in Las Vegas to doing the nightly weather forecast. "I felt it. I couldn't play games."
His chief competition as a Las Vegas weatherman affected a "wild-and-crazy" attitude that included throwing pointers at the camera and referring to strikes of thunder as "thunderboomies."
Ross said he wasn't interested in competing on that level. The weather, he said, was too serious a subject to joke about. "I couldn't be somebody who was a clown because people's lives are at stake," he said.
Ross said he chose to use the name "Doc" before taking the weatherman job to avoid being confused with his son, a musician who is also named Ron. He had already been a confirmed bow-tie wearer, too, before they became his trademark.
"I still tie them myself," Ross said proudly of the ties, which lent him a professorial quality on the air. "I've never, never worn the kind you clip on."
But Ross didn't need the dapper neckwear to make him look like a college professor - he was one for a number of years at Utah State University before he decided to move to Las Vegas.
"I simply had to have some change of pace," he said of leaving Utah for Las Vegas. That attitude had led him to many of his jobs, such as his latest, in advertising.
Ross left his Channel 3 post a year ago last April and took the job with an in-house advertising agency at a Las Vegas car dealership. He had worked for the company before when he was teaching drama at a local high school.
Other jobs he has held in southern Nevada include speech teacher at the community college, radio weatherman and would-be producer of a musical that never opened due to lack of money.
Ross chalks up his varied career to his personal philosophy. "If you're not in the process of becoming, you're already dead," he said. "You may never become, but that's all right."
Even after a dozen years in Las Vegas, Ross said he still misses Utah, especially the high-country fishing. He said he has interviewed for a job in the Salt Lake area and hopes he gets the opportunity to return.