Neil Harvey
a.k.a. Dr. Harvey Neil Perlish

Harvey Neil Perlish, known to the Philadelphia broadcast community as Neil Harvey, was born on Tuesday, April 5, 1921, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has lived in Philadelphia and environs for all but four years. The time he served in World War II. At 12 years of age, Harvey resolved to become a radio announcer. He had appeared as a Boy Scout on KYW with Kerby Cushing. Neil recalls that Cushing told him that his voice seemed appropriate for radio.

Harvey auditioned for the Sunday morning Horn and Hardart Children's Hour on WCAU Radio. Esther and Stan Lee Broza invited him to join the regular weekly cast of the program. His first broadcast celebrated St. Patrick's day of 1934 when he played the part of an Irish cop. His brogue was called "astonishing." For the next four years, he participated in the show's weekly skits. During his early teen years, he perfected some 27 different dialects and acted in a wide variety of radio dramas, on local stations including WFIL, WIP, WHAT, and WDAS. The most important of these programs was the Sears' Juvenile Thrillers on WFIL.

President of his high school Dramatic Club, during his senior year, Harvey played lead in "The Informer" and, as "Best High School Actor" won the city-wide Cultural Olympics. Ar nineteen, he became a radio announcer for WGAL in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As it happened, he and well known sportscaster Bill Campbell started there on the very same day. Six months later, he was called to WCAU where, for nine months, he worked as colleague of George Thomas, Hugh Ferguson, Hugh Walton and Bill Hart. He then joined the announcing staff of WPEN, and in early 1942, was hired by WFIL, his home for more than 29 years. As one of his first assignments, he served as one the announcers who worked the audience for Al Stevens' Squire of Suburban Square broadcast.

With World War II heating up, Harvey enlisted in the United States Air Force and, after several stints in ever more demanding schools, he was assigned to Air Force Intelligence in Villacoublay, France, Headquarters and Headquarters for the Squadron, 9th Air Force, 32nd Air Transport Wing, 27th Air Transport Group.

He learned to speak Spanish and French with what has been called near-native fluency. He used both languages during debriefing sessions with released French prisoners of war during the war. On site, he wire-recorded several camp liberation ceremonies for broadcast back in the States. When he was not otherwise engaged, noon and five pm, each day, Harvey announced daily war news over the base loudspeaker system.

At war's end, once again behind the microphone at WFIL and W53PH (WFIL-FM), he did the announcing for Jack Steck's Hayloft Hoedown, originated network programs from the Click nightclub where Neil spoke Spanish with Desi Arnaz. On the 18th floor of the Widener Building, he helped create their initial television programs with 1947 and 1948. When, still in its infancy, Channel Six moved to TV facilities adjacent to the Arena at 46th &Market Streets, Harvey delivered the pioneering DuMont Television News.

As host of the TV Digest Film Theatre, he wrote copy and delivered commercials for a magazine that would eventually become known as the "TV Guide." He was the first anchor for the RCA Television News, was named the first Esso Reporter. Along the way, he appeared on Reisman Pretzel's Magic Show; hosted Richard Rodger's Victory At Sea for Thom McAnn Shoes, wrote and delivered his own Sunday Night program, Neil Harvey and The News for Oscar Meyer Wieners.

On Sunday, October 28, 1951, from 10:45 am to 11 am, a television listing shows "Comics." It says: "Big Brother Neil narrates." Every Sunday morning, WFIL-TV, owned by the Philadelphia Inquirer aired 15 minutes of comics from their newspaper. The two most well-known readers were Neil Harvy (Big Brother Neil) and Shelly Gross (Big Brother Shelly).

When WFIL announced a competition for suggestions for a new building to be constructed on City Line, Harvey submitted detailed architectural blueprints for a round building, citing numerous advantages of the circular design for television broadcasting. He won a bond.

In 1966, as Education Projects Director of Triangle Publications Broadcasting, Harvey wrote and produced the acclaimed documentaries, One Nation Under God , How Soon The First R?, and the award-winning series, Words and Deeds in which Essay #2, "Servant of Democracy" addressed the critical need for properly qualified and motivated teachers.

His crowning achievement was when he wrote, produced and appeared in 195 half-hour television programs entitled, Wordland Workshop. This historic series, which antedated Sesame Street by three years, provided the vehicle for a study in which mothers helped their three-year-old children learn to read along with the TV show.

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania ('49) where his BA reflects Honors in English Literature, with majors in Anthropology and Languages. Fourteen years later, in 1963, he returned to Penn and amassed graduate credits in Education, Statistics, Linguistics, Anthropology, and Psychology. He earned his Ph.D in Early Education and Pediatric Neurophysiology.

Harvey is author of Kids Who Start Ahead, Stay Ahead or What Actually Happens When Your Home-Taught Early Learner Goes To School, (Penguin-Putnam, 1999, Avery Publishing Group, 1994). His book reports what happened intellectually, physically and socially to 314 early learners after they entered school. During preschool years (0-4) these children, who represented every walk of life, had been introduced to reading, math, physical activities and social graces. Once in school, nearly 35% of them were classified "gifted." They and the other early learners in Harvey's study excelled convincingly in all areas.

As independent motion picture producer, (Neil Harvey Productions) he wrote, directed and produced more than thirty films; among them: "Introduction to Miltown" for Wallace Laboratories, Inc.; "Ode to Life" and "Who is Sylvia" for Deborah Sanitarium and Hospital; "Time Out For A Hobby" for the Hobby Association of America; "Sunday In Philadelphia" for the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and a series of health-oriented films for the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

Introduction to the concepts and procedures of Child-Brain Development came during 1959 and 1960 when he filmed a motion picture of a seminal Institutes' study, Children with Severe Brain Injuries: Neurological Organization in terms of Mobility., later published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (September 17, 1960). In 1963, while still with WFIL-TV, Neil Harvey joined the staff of the nonprofit Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. Earlier, for six years, he had been associated with The Institutes as member of the Board of Governors. In May, 1988, Dr. Neil Harvey was elected President of the World Organization for Human Potential, succeeding Ralph Pelligra, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Currently, Dr. Harvey is Dean of all of the Institutes including the Evan Thomas Institute for Early Development and the Temple Fay Institute for Academics.

Harvey's Temple Fay Institute is responsible for organization and presentation of courses presented to parents who come from one hundred seven countries to learn how to treat brain-injured children, and to parents who wish to help their very young well children learn to read. In 1979, the International Academy for Child-Brain Development awarded Dr. Harvey its coveted Statuette With Pedestal, an honor whose previous Recipients include Nobel Laureates Linus Pauling, Konrad Lorenz, and Nikolaas Tinbergen, authors Robert Ardrey and Desmond Morris, and physicians Jonas Salk, Benjamin Spock, Lewis Thomas and Jonathan Miller. Thirteen years earlier, in 1966, he received the Brazilian Gold Medal of Honor; in 1976, the Spectrum Award of the World Organization for Human Potential, and in 1977, the Japanese conferred upon him their distinguished Medal of Sakura Koro Sho.

He maintains a close association with broadcasting, has been interviewed on more than 100 radio stations, and has appeared on television many times in behalf of his book, "Kids Who Start Ahead." In 1999, Dr. Harvey was elected Vice President of the Broadcast Pioneers, a position he held for two years (limited by our constitution). He then continued to serve on our Board of Directors and as Chairman of our Scholarship Committee. He held both positions until his untimely death on Friday, November 14, 2003.

A television listing for Tuesday, November 21, 1950 shows Neil Harvey doing to news on WFIL-TV, Channel 6 (Philadelphia) from 5:50 to 6 pm. The next week, the news (with Neil Harvey) had moved to 5:30 to 5:40 pm to make way for "Santa Claus Calling."

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
© 2003, All Rights Reserved

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