Robert L. Mott, Sound Effects Maestro for Radio and Television, Dies at 92

Courtesy of Cinda Mott
Robert L. Mott with a berry basket, which he used to produce the sound of a door being smashed

The Emmy winner worked on the kids show 'Captain Kangaroo' and wrote comedy bits for Red Skelton and Dick Van Dyke.

Robert L. Mott, a sound effects specialist and writer who worked with the likes of Red Skelton, Dick Van Dyke and Captain Kangaroo during an idiosyncratic, five-decade career, has died. He was 92.

Mott, whose spent his first 19 years in the business at CBS, died Sept. 28 at his home in Arroyo Grande, Calif., his daughter, Nancy McLoughlin, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Mott won two Emmy Awards for his efforts on the NBC daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives; he was with the show on and off for three decades. He once said he taped the crackling sound of cedar burning during a vacation to his brother's cabin and used that slice of audio whenever a scene on the show featured a fireplace.

Raised in Nyack, N.Y., Mott served with the U.S. Marines during World War II and then earned a degree in radio writing from Columbia University. He also played drums for a spell in Benny Goodman's band.

CBS hired him as a sound effects specialist in 1951, and he worked on dozens of radio and TV programs, including Perry Mason, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Garry Moore Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Andy Williams Show and Playhouse 90.

While doing sound effects for the CBS morning kids show Captain Kangaroo, starring Bob Keeshan, Mott was asked to write pantomime sketches for Skelton's primetime comedy show for the network.

His sound work often led to the creation of comedy bits. Mott first met Van Dyke when the performer needed the whooshing of speeding cars to spruce up a comedy appearance on Moore's daytime program. They went on to collaborate for years.

"Sometimes I would get a call at 1 a.m. on a Saturday from him saying he was going to be on the Sullivan show, and so I would write him sketches," he said in a 2008 interview with the Archive of American Television.

After CBS, Mott segued to NBC and worked on Bob Hope specials, The Tonight Show, The Flip Wilson Show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and Chico and the Man.

Mott wrote several books about sound effects, including the cleverly titled Radio Live! Television Live! Those Golden Days When Horses Were Coconuts, published in 2000.

Survivors also include his wife Cinda; other daughters Susan, Gail and Cathee; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and his dog Fiona.