Born Francis Dayle Hearn on November 27, 1916, Chick Hearn was a poplar American sportscaster well-known for his commentary for the Los Angeles Lakers. he was raised in Aurora, Illinois and attended high school at Marmion Academy, later going to college at Bradley University where he earned the nickname "Chick," supposedly after his teammates on the Amateur Athletic Union Basketball team surprised him with a dead chicken.
During his broadcast career, Hearn was the color commentator for NBC Sports' coverage of the Rose Bowl from 1958 to 1961 and contributed to the network's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament from 1957 to 1964. At the same time, he handled the sports desk of the local news program on Los Angeles' NBC affiliate, KRCA (now KNBC) and announced USC football and basketball games from 1956 to 1961. Beginning March 1961, Hearn worked as a Los Angeles Lakers sportscaster for the National Basketball Association, missing only two games in his career although this streak came to an end in 2001 when he had to take a break for cardiac bypass surgery and suffering a broken hip during his break. He was most remembered for his rapid fire, staccato broadcasting style, often inventing colorful phrases such as "slam dunk," "air ball" and "no harm, no foul," phrases that have since become common basketball vernacular. Beyond the Lakers, Hearn was also the broadcast commentator of the first Ali-Frazier fight in 1971 and the long-time host of "Bowling for Dollars" on KTLA for 1972 to 1977. He also did the play-by-play for basketball during the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Hearn's popularity as an announcer also parlayed him into Hollywood roles as an announcer in films, such as "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh," "The Love Bug," "The Simpsons," "Rugrats" and "Garfield and Friends." He was also a radio announcer on two episodes of "Gilligan's Island" as well as the reunion movie, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island. His voice can also be heard on the song "Don't Leave Me Now" of the Pink Floyd album, "The Wall," a clip taken from an actual game between the Lakers and the Bulls from the 1978-79 season.
Hearn passed away at the age of 85 on August 5, 2002 from complications of a head injury he had three days earlier. He was survived by his wife of 65-years, Marge Hearn, and interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California next to his son Gary, who had died of a drug overdose on June 1, 1972, and his daughter Samantha, who had died from complications of anorexia on May 24, 1990. Chick and Marge would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on August 13, 2002. He became the third broadcaster to be inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in 1995, he was voted to be the 20th member of the American Sportscaster Hall of Fame by his fellow sportscasters.
In honor of his contributions to the Los Angeles Lakers, a section of West 11th Street in Los Angeles between Figueroa Street and Georgia Street was re-named Chick Hearn Court in his honor and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority further honored the broadcaster by changing the name of the nearby Blue Line Station to Pico-Chick Hearn. His name was later hung from the rafters of the Staples Center, alongside the retired numbers of past Lakers players, though with a microphone in place of a number. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6755 Hollywood Boulevard and a bronze statue at Star Plaza outside Staples Center that was dedicated April 27, 2010. A chair by his statue was placed for fans to sit by his statue for photos.