'Sheriff' John Rovick dies at 93; popular L.A. children's TV host
Rovick once received a letter from a mother saying her young son had asked her how old Sheriff John was. She told him, "I don't really know." To which the boy said: "He must be hundreds of years old. Every day he sings, 'I'm another year old today."

One father wrote a letter of thanks and told him how his young daughter learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance: "... with liberty and justice for all, and now to our first cartoon."

The letters from parents also included one from a mother who said that when a disease took the life of her young son, their pastor read the words to "Laugh and Be Happy" at his funeral.

Sheriff John became an influential TV figure, spawning other law enforcement-type children's TV show hosts around the country.

Rovick was born Oct. 2, 1919, in Dayton, Ohio. While studying speech and dramatics at Michigan State University, he began singing with an eight-piece student band on Saturday afternoons at the student union.

The shows were broadcast by the university radio station and in so doing, he later said, "I got the feeling I liked broadcasting."

He began working occasionally at a local radio station and after graduating in 1941, he landed a job as a staff announcer on a Toledo radio station. But the job was short-lived.

In 1942, Rovick joined the Army Air Forces and flew 50 missions as a radio gunner on a B-25. He was later commissioned a second lieutenant and had temporary duty with the transportation corps on a liberty ship.

After the war, Rovick returned to his old job at the Toledo radio station. Inspired by a colleague who had worked in Los Angeles, Rovick made an audition record and in 1949 drove west.

After KTTV canceled "Lunch Brigade" in 1970 — to "save money," he said in 2008 — Rovick stayed on as a staff announcer until retiring in 1981, after 32 years at KTTV. He then moved to Idaho.

Decades later, Rovick continued to be a welcome sight for those who had grown up with Sheriff John.

"I had a heart attack five years ago," he said in the 2005 Idaho Statesman interview, "and the Boise doctor who saved my life turned out to be a Sheriff John fan. My dentist is a fan, and so are three of the people at the clinic where I get my eyes checked.

"I was walking into a store the other day, and a woman gasped and said, 'Sheriff John!' It just doesn't stop. It's amazing that it's been so many years ago and people still remember the impact the show had on their lives."

Rovick was separated for many years from his wife, Jacqueline, with whom he had two daughters, Wendy Maceri and Sandy Kaiser. They survive him, as do five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

McLellan is a former Times staff writer.