Former University of Miami faculty member and alumnus Jack Metzger, who taught communication courses for 14 years, passed away from cancer and heart disease earlier this year. Metzger was 81.
A host of children’s programs on local TV, Metzger, A.B. ‘53, taught radio production classes, including script writing and radio performance at UM, during the late 1950s’ through the 1960s’. He was a graduate of UM’s Radio Television and Film Department.
In 1968, he became the first faculty adviser of WVUM 90.5 FM “The Voice,” the University’s campus radio station.
“Jack was a terrific person who loved the University of Miami,” said Robert Mann, B.A. ’70, UM School of Communication Visiting Committee Chair and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees who was a student of Metzger’s. “As the first faculty adviser to WVUM, he was instrumental in getting the station on the air and his office door was always open to help students.”
Metzger wrote and produced a number of radio programs from the department, presented live on local radio with student involvement
“He was a tremendously popular professor with a tremendous sense of humor,” said Paul T. Nagel, a retired UM communication professor who was Metzger’s professor then colleague. “He liked the students and they liked him. Many of his friends were students.”
Born in Pittsburg, Metzger was best known as Mr. Jackson on two shows airing on Miami’s Channel 10: “The Learning Ladder” and “Arthur and Company.” Legions of local kids grew up with him, the puppets, and the characters he played on TV, including Captain Jack on the children’s show, “Banjo Billy’s Fun Boat.” from 1961 to 1969.
Metzger wrote and performed on those shows for 20 years. He gained numerous accolades during his career, including induction into the South Florida Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Silver Circle in 1994. The award honors individuals who devoted 25 years or more to the television industry, with a significant portion of their careers spent in South Florida.
After leaving TV, he continued acting on the stage and was director of creative services for the Miami-Dade County Fair until retiring in 1997.
Loretta Barone, who remained friends with Metzger for 55 years after he was her professor at UM, said he frequently entertained friends with stories of classic Hollywood stars and film studios. He loved animals and had many pets during his lifetime, including an opossum, a kinkajou, and cats. He even had guinea pigs that he named after celebrities: Tyrone Power, Nelson Eddy, and Jeanette MacDonald.
Metzger died on January 5 at Baptist Hospital in Kendall. He is survived by his older sister, Ruth Metzger.
Editor’s Note: The story was supplemented by an obituary that was published in The Miami Herald. To read the obituary, click here.