Chet Forte
Personal information
Born(1935-08-07)August 7, 1935
Hackensack, New Jersey
DiedMay 18, 1996(1996-05-18) (aged 60)
San Diego, California
NationalityAmerican
Listed height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Listed weight145 lb (66 kg)
Career information
High schoolHackensack
(Hackensack, New Jersey)
CollegeColumbia (1954–1957)
NBA draft1957 / Round: 7 / Pick: 49th overall
Selected by the Cincinnati Royals
PositionPoint guard
Number40
Career history
1957College All-Stars
Career highlights and awards

Fulvio Chester "Chet" Forte Jr. (August 7, 1935 – May 18, 1996) was an American television director and sports radio talk show host. He was also a standout college basketball player for Columbia and was the UPI Player of the Year in 1956–57. He was portrayed by Nicholas Turturro in Monday Night Mayhem[1]

Early life

Forte's life in the sports world began as an All-State basketball star at Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey. He was named to the Star-Ledger's Team of the Century in 1999. From there he starred at Columbia University. In the 1956–57 season, he was named first-team All-American as a point guard, and beat out the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for player of the year.[2] He was short for a basketball player, but shot with deadly accuracy from the outside—the approximate location of today's three-point circle.

Forte was drafted in the 7th round of the 1957 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals, but did not make the team, and never played in the NBA.[3]

ABC Sports

Forte began working in TV, joining ABC Sports in the mid-1960s. On April 8, 1967, due to an AFTRA strike, Forte and producer Chuck Howard filled-in as commentators for Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

In 1970, Forte was named the first director of Monday Night Football.[2] His ability to present the game as entertainment spectacle as well as sporting event, under the mandate of executive producer Roone Arledge, made the show a huge success in both sports and pop culture.

But he also was infamously abusive to subordinates, including lowly production assistants on Monday Night Football, who "began to root for one of the cameramen to screw up so it would take the heat off them." He once forced a production assistant to change hotel rooms to take a less opulent room, despite the fact that the hotel had upgraded the room at no extra cost to ABC. "Who the hell do you think you are with a room like that?," he said to the subordinate, "you're just a p.a."[4]

Further, Forte and producer Don Ohlmeyer used their MNF positions to seduce women who attended games they were covering: "The so-called honey shots -- those tight close-ups of a beauty in the stands or on the sidelines -- often held special meaning on Monday Night Football." Forte would tell camera operators to proposition comely female spectators: "Tell her who I am. Tell her I'm rich. Ask her if she'd like to be on national television." Arledge was aware of the "X-rated activities taking place on the ABC caravan" and excused it as part of "'what made the show what it was.'"[5]

Departure from ABC Sports

Despite his professional success, Forte had a huge gambling addiction which he kept behind the scenes. ABC executives feared his gambling activities were affecting his job which led to his departure from ABC in the mid-1980s.[6] He was also indicted by a federal grand jury on three-counts of mail fraud and tax evasion. He cooperated with the government and was spared prison time, receiving a five-year probation sentence.

Post-ABC activities

In 1989, he directed the roller derby program RollerGames.[7] The next year, he became a talk show host at San Diego's XTRA, also known as "XTRA Sports 690." He co-hosted the Loose Cannons show with Steve Hartman. On the show, he openly discussed his addiction and offered to help others in a similar situation.

Death

Forte was working on-the-air days prior to his death on May 18, 1996 in San Diego, California. Forte, who was known for his junk food obsession and for chain-smoking his way through telecasts,[5] died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 60. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his cardiologist, Dr. Steven Gross, alleging that the doctor was negligent in his treatment of Forte. The jury agreed and awarded the family US$1.7 million.[8]

References

  1. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268466/
  2. ^ a b "Chet Forte, 60, an Innovator in Television Sports", The New York Times, May 19, 1996. Accessed February 12, 2008.
  3. ^ http://collegehoopedia.com/players/chet-forte
  4. ^ Gunther, Marc (1988). Monday night mayhem : the inside story of ABC's Monday night football. Bill Carter (1st ed.). New York: Beech Tree Books. pp. 223–5. ISBN 0-688-07553-3. OCLC 18069619.
  5. ^ a b Gunther, Marc (1988). Monday night mayhem : the inside story of ABC's Monday night football. Bill Carter (1st ed.). New York: Beech Tree Books. pp. 131–4. ISBN 0-688-07553-3. OCLC 18069619.
  6. ^ https://articles.latimes.com/1990-05-20/sports/sp-222_1_chet-forte
  7. ^ "Futuristic Fast Track". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. July 10, 1989. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Family Wins Suit". The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. September 6, 1998. Retrieved June 30, 2016.