He was born as Herbert Jon Antoine, Jr., in Illinois, and was raised in California and Texas. His father was Herbert Jon Antoine, Sr. (1894–1972), an auto supply salesman. His mother was Bertha Campbell, and by 1930 the family was living in Los Angeles. Antoine (whose nickname “Tex” came from his growing up in Texas) first joined NBC in New York as a page in 1943, and a year later became a staff announcer for the network. He was the first announcer, beginning in 1944, for the long-running religious drama The Eternal Light. His run with the program ended in 1945. His other radio announcing credits include The Adventures of Archie Andrews and The Adventures of Frank Merriwell.
Antoine began his weather career in 1949 on WNBT (later WRCA-TV, now WNBC), working with a cartoon sidekick known as “Uncle Wethbee”. His theme music was “Fine and Dandy.” Originally, Antoine used several records to reflect the weather of the day. (“Stormy Weather,” “Let it Snow”, etc.) However, all of the records but one became damaged or broken and he was left with “Fine and Dandy”. The theme served him for years.
According to a reminiscence by Bob Tilden, Antoine’s nightly weather report “was a wonderful mix of weather, cartoon art, and storytelling. He would start his weather segment standing next to an easel covered by blank papers, and he would proceed to draw the weather systems that were pertinent to the nation and the area. As his hands drew in the lows, highs, and fronts, his voice would narrate their past and expected movements, and what their effects would be. As he filled page after page of the easel, building the map as he described each feature, he engaged his audience. He instructed the viewers about their weather, rather than just informing them of a forecast.”
Antoine also entertained viewers during each report by writing the temperature in large numerals on his big blank pad, then embellishing with the marker as his weather narrative proceeded until the numeral had finally become part of a whimsical cartoon illustrating some facet of the day’s weather or forecast.
In 1966, Tex Antoine moved from WNBC to WABC-TV. He was not allowed to plug his new home on his last channel 4 broadcast. So, with Uncle Wethbee’s Magic Marker in hand, he said and wrote something to the effect of: “Remember that 4 plus 3 equals 7, and that’s as easy as ABC.” Two years later, in 1968, WABC revamped all its newscasts under the banner of Eyewitness News. Its new news director, Al Primo, decreed that all the newscast’s on-camera talent would wear matching blue blazers with a “circle 7” crest displayed on their jacket pockets. When Antoine, who up to that point wore smocks on the air, protested that it would affect his image, Primo retorted, “Either we all wear jackets, or we all wear smocks.” Tex would wear jackets on the air thereafter.
On November 24, 1976, on the 6 p.m. broadcast, Antoine’s weather report came up just after a story of the rape of an eight-year-old girl. Tex thereupon quipped: “With rape so predominant in the news lately, it is well to remember the words of Confucius: ‘If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it’,” (the comment later caused controversy amongst women’s groups after Indiana University coach Bob Knight said it during an interview with Connie Chung in 1988 and helped derail Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams’ 1990 election bid). Roger Grimsby led the 11 p.m. newscast that night with the official apology from WABC. Five days later Grimsby would introduce Antoine’s replacement, Storm Field, with “Lie back, relax and enjoy the weather with Storm Field” (it too caused controversy). Antoine closed out his career with a brief stint as weatherman for WNEW-TV in 1977. He had married Suzannah C. Glidden in summer 1965, and he died in Manhattan in 1983, at age 59, under the name “H. Jon Antoine”.
- April, 21, 1923
- January, 12, 1983
- Manhattan, New York City, New York