An accent from a time
: Last week, I heard a WNYC report on bridges that included radio clips from the ’40s that featured city voices with an accent I hadn’t heard in years, an accent that came not so much from a place, New York, but from a time, a half-century ago: snooty yet friendly with a touch of England and a dash of Roosevelt in them. They were self-conscious and meant to sound American but certainly not Midwestern (in the days before TV made that our sound); they were meant to sound smart and civilized even if they were American. These are the accents I imagined in the soundtrack of the round table at the Algonquin. And I thought: You just don’t hear that anymore.
This morning, I heard Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360 commentary/eulogy on George Plimpton and he described Plimpton as “the guy with the old-fashioned half-American, half-English voice who was regularly cast in small movie roles as the consummate WASP-in films like Reds, Last Days of Disco, Nixon, Good Will Hunting, and Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Right, that’s it: half-American, half-English, consummate WASP.
I think that accent died with Plimpton.