Greg By Greg

In Person

"I was born May 16, on a comparatively bright day in 1947. My father, in the sudden rush of my arrival, forgot to look up the address of Maynard Hospital. He is a very good driver and covered a large section of Seattle looking for Maynard in a short time.

There were sixteen boy babies born on May 16 at Maynard and I was one. For this, we even got our picture in the paper. My nurses said very frankly to my mother that I was the loudest baby in the nursery and ate the most. My mother still tells this story constantly.

I am the only person in our family of four who is a Mercer Island native. My father was born in Illinois. My mother and fifteen year old brother were both Seattleites when born.

Ever since I can remember, our family has had cats. My mother is especially devoted to Siamese cats. We now have three, Sam, Too-too and Timothy Ann Mad Cap Lover Baby. The latter occupies half (or all) of my bed each night. We also have a hunting dog, Rockletree.

My nursery school years were spent at East Seattle. The remainder of my schooling has been at old and new Lakeview until the present change to Mercer Island Junior High School.

In kindergarten, I had Mrs. Lewis at old Lakeview. The only thing I remember about this class is that she was always changing the desks around so you never knew where you were facing next.

Then, Mrs. Pathemer for first grade. I remember how Robert Wilkinson and I got out of nap time by washing milk bottles in the kitchen. From there to new Lakeview to be in the only elementary class in the school, for at that time, Lakeview was the high school.

One day we were all working busily when Mr. Chapel of the high school came in and asked if he could speak to Palmer. Mrs. Nygren, our teacher, seemed to know what it was all about. Mr. Chapel asked me if I would be an actor in the high school play. I accepted. My part was that of Page Mason, a seven year old pest who injures a girl's popularity with her parents by passing out their old love letters. The play was entitled, We Shook the Family Tree. After our performance, we had a gay party at the home of the girl star. Being ten years younger than the others, I did not understand much of what was going on. I do remember, however, that everyone drank a lot of pop.

I left our wild second grade and progressed to third, where my teacher was Mrs. Arkley. About this time I was pursuing a writing career by scribbling my own stories of many very corny characters. My mother still has one or two manuscripts. Then on to the fourth grade with Mrs. McHattee. She was very tough and very good. In grade five, Miss Wakefield was in her first year of teaching, and was very nice. During the year she was married.

In the fourth and the beginning of the fifth grade, I raced a JU runabout. A JU is the smallest class of racing boat listed by the American Power Boat Association. It was an outboard with a five horsepower motor. During my racing career, I got one first place trophy, one second, two thirds and a cup for being the youngest entrant at the Harrison Lake regatta. After four years we switched to sailboat racing with a Lightning. Our first one was not very good, so we borrowed another while a third one was being build.

This borrowed boat always leaked and even more in a good wind. One night, the wind was blowing exceptionally hard and the water line inside was rising. My brother handled the sponge, my father handled the sails and rudder and I handled the pump. Being the third man, I caught the water which churned over the front deck. When the race ended and the spray had cleared, we were swimming in the boat while towing another poor sailor who had broken his tiller. I was the wettest by far and when we came into the dock, I announced that I could not ride back home in the Lightning. Bob Brown, another very friendly sailor offered to help by calling my mother and giving me some old, dry clothes. Mr. Brown owns a swanky restaurant on the wharf and he put me there to wait until Mother came. People stared at me as if I were local color. …"

~ from a seventh-grade essay

A Fantasy Obituary

"With the cheap irony television loves so well, death has claimed Greg Palmer. Yesterday Palmer was struck down in mid-Fourth Avenue by bicyclist Loris Wetzel.

While expressing remorse at Palmer's demise, Wetzel pointed out that he was trying to break the existing record (84) for running red lights consecutively, and 'Fatso should have realized that.' Palmer was cited posthumously for 'failure to share the road.'

Recently Palmer has been working as writer/host of a PBS documentary series, 'Death: The Trip of a Lifetime,' premiering Monday. A PBS promotion executive remarked that Palmer's timely death should have a beneficial effect 'ratings-wise.'

'You watch! Now 'Death" is gonna be bigger than last year's 'Pavarotti, Stills, Nash and Barney Sing Songs of the Civil War,' he predicted.

Among the many ironies in the documentary series is Palmer's mock funeral, which was attended by his real family and friends. Those people will now have the unique opportunity to attend two funerals for the same person, if they care to.

A minor Northwest celebrity, the Mercer Island native worked for KRAB, KTW, KING, KIRO and KCTS, although he insisted he was not a 'floater.' He was also a playwright, film director, and former stevedore, cook, actor and arts critic. He wanted to be a fireman.

The married father of two, Palmer lived in Wallingford, yet never had a latte in his life. When asked about funeral arrangements, a family spokesperson said, 'Oh, we'll probably have something…' The family suggests remembrances be made by buying Palmer's book, 'Death: The Trip of a Lifetime' ($23, HarperCollins), so the wife and kids will at least get something out of what's happened.

Mr. Palmer's last words as he lay on the street were, 'See, I told you the cigarettes wouldn't kill me.'"

~written to accompany an article on Death: The Trip of a Lifetime
by Sherry Stripling in The Seattle Times, October 1, 1993

NATAS Silver Circle induction

Greg Palmer began his broadcast career as station manager of KRAB/Seattle, an alleged Communist-front organization, where he met then-local luminaries Charles Manson and Ted Bundy. They moved on; he stayed, first as KTW/AM talk show host (1973) and then as the first A&E editor of KING5 (1977). In 1983 KING premiered Top Story with Mr. Palmer as a 'Signature Reporter.' In 1990 the new news director blew him away an hour after they first met. After six months penance at KIRO7, he has since been an independent writer/producer/talent--those three being in decreasing order of interest. At KING Mr. Palmer also created specials including D-Day: The Last Wave, Small Town Saturday Night, and the comedic Year (So Far) In Review. His later work, mostly for national PBS, includes: Vaudeville; Death: The Trip of a Lifetime; The Perilous Fight; The Art of Magic; and Inside Passage. Mr. Palmer also wrote/directed the KING family films Puss In Boots, Snow White, and the first US/Georgia co-production, The Falcon. In print, his books include Death; Adventures in the Mainstream; and Cheese Deluxe. His awards include all the usual tin, plus a Peabody. He attributes his apparent success to incredible luck--especially working for the best people, with the best people--with the unprecedented freedom to mess around on other people's television stations when that was still allowed by a rare few.

~bio Greg wrote for the 46th Annual Northwest Regional Emmy Awards catalogue, May 30, 2009


In 2003 Greg performed his one-man show, Figures of Authority, at the Seattle Fringe Festival. In the program he included this list of jokes, characters, situations, opinions, and favorite sayings, although they had nothing directly to do with any of the four monologues by characters Dato, Grumpy, Helmut, and Darrin. Instead, they made up the fifth monologue--about himself.

Addams, Charles: "Mr. Addams, do you ever wish you were doing the cute kids and Charles Shultz was doing the macabre family" "No, I've never had any Peanuts envy." Radio interview, 1974.

Bierce, Ambrose, 1906: "Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn't even get out of committee."

Buckland, Dr.: British physician who vowed to taste every creature in the animal kingdom, and haunted the London Zoo waiting for animals to die. He said mole was the worst thing he ever ate.

Cartland, Barbara: When asked by a radio interviewer if class barriers have broken down in Britain: "Of course they have, or I wouldn't be talking to you."

Compassion, Journalistic: "I never want to see a newscast on this station that doesn't have at least one crying woman in it." Local television new director, 1985.

Cross-Talk: "Are you putting it around that I'm barmy?" Classic music hall cross-talk opening line.

Flies: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Frost, David: "A Conservative is someone who demands a square deal for the rich."

458 days: Time Ronald Reagan spent in California during his "Presidency."

Hoot, Frankly my dear I don't give a: Seriously suggested by an MGM executive as an acceptable alternative to "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Gone With the Wind, 1939.

Mander, Linden: "Oh waitress. I think I've found the bottom of my Bottomless Cup of Tea. It's very near the top." Piccadilly Hotel, London, 1959.

Palmer: The only modern family name in the Bible (Joel 1:4, 2:25, Amos 4:9) The reference is to the "Palmer worm," which the OED describes as a "hairy caterpillar" thus the only Palmer which is hairy, and Biblical.

Partin, R: Journalist who said, "I have put my fate in the hands of fools for far too long," and quit.

Portraits: "Pictures in which there is something wrong with the mouth." Eugene Speicher, portrait painter.

Russell, Bertrand: "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt."

Shane: Allegedly the last manuscript written in longhand to be accepted by a major publisher.

Surrealism, Short Order: Customer: "I'll have a hamburger with everything except lettuce." Astrid the Counter Personnel: "Sorry, we're all outta lettuce." Koby's Fish & Chips, Leschi, 1960.

Strike, Critical Pre-emptive first: "The most interesting thing about this production is the program."

Why were so many Civil War battles fought in national parks?: Favorite question asked of Gettysburg park rangers, according to the rangers.

Williams, Bert: America's greatest comedian.