My dad and I used to watch “Michigan Outdoors” when it was hosted by Mort Neff. I was especially fond of the fishing episodes, where Mort and various fishermen would catch these monster fish from seemingly small lakes. My dreams of catching one that big never came to fruition, however, as most of mine had to be thrown back for being too small.

As popular as “Michigan Outdoors” became, it wasn’t intended to be a regular show. Mort and a friend, Ben East, thought a program about various outdoor issues might be beneficial to the public. East was to be the host until his bosses at Outdoor Life magazine gave him an ultimatum: 'you can do your little TV show or stay here at the magazine. You can’t do both'. So East stayed with the mag and Mort took over as host of “Michigan Outdoors”. Mort’s experience as host of radio’s “Sportsman’s Guide” gave him all the experience and knowledge needed. Mort’s love for the outdoors was contagious and the show became one of Michigan’s most popular TV programs.

So, from 1951 until 1975, Mort continuously hosted the show…a good 24 years. Afterward, he retired, moved from his house in Birmingham to Harbor Springs, and remarried a woman - who was one year older than his daughter.

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On August 16, 1990, Mort had a bad stroke, disabling him until he finally passed away eleven days later. “Michigan Outdoors” was continued by a number of other hosts, producers, and writers, but, as good as it was, just wasn’t the same without Mr. Neff.

A cool little side note about Mort Neff; he was a ham radio operator when he was 12 years old and was one of the first people to hear of the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.

Mort Neff and 'Michigan Outdoors' TV


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