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Q: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 04 Jan 2004 04:35 PST
Expires: 03 Feb 2004 04:35 PST
Question ID: 292969
MacFarlane was an American 'Wireless Commentator' of the Forties who,
according to Ripley's 'Believe It Or Not', lost his sight after an
incident in the Syrian desert. See:

Can anybody please find out what happened to him?

Dates of Birth and Death would also be helpful.

Many thanks.
Subject: Re: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him?
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 04 Jan 2004 09:11 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello PBP-ga,

Thanks, as always, for a most interesting and somewhat quirky question.

Ian Ross MacFarlane spent a good part of his broadcasting career in
and around the Washington DC area.  As a result, the online archives
of the Washington Post are a reasonably good source of information on
MacFarlane's career.

The archives are accessible at:

You can search the archives at no charge -- a search on Ian Ross
MacFarlane pulls up seven results.  To access the articles themselves,
the Post charges a fairly modest fee.

I had a look at a few articles, and these I've summarized here.  Hope
this does the trick, but if you have any further questions...I'm sure
you know what to do...!

Happy New Year, pbp.



The June 6, 1962 Washington Post (page B6) carried MacFarlane's
obituary, and gave June 5th as the date of his passing.  The article
carries a picture of an adverturous-looking MacFarlane wearing a black
eye-patch over his left eye.  Some excerpts from the obituarty:


I.R. MacFarlane, Commentator; 60

...MacFarlane had been in failing health...after he contracted
hepatitis in Africa three years ago while gathering material for a
broadcasting network...

...He was a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in 1920 and
later did free lance writing.

...MacFarlane and his brother, William, were rescued by a band of
Bedouins in 1934 after losing their way in a Syrian desert...on a
12,000 mile study tour by bicycle...

...Survivors include his wife four sons, and a daughter.


A 1941 article reported some details about MacFarland's eyesight, as
well as his broadcasting career, built on an extemporaneous style
necessitated by his inability to read from written notes:

Failing Sight Doesn't Deter MacFarlane
The Washington Post 
Jan 5, 1941
pg. T5

...Proving that one never knows what he can do until he has to, Ian
Ross MacFarlane is a news commentator who is still climbing despite
eyesight that once failed him completely and even now keeps him from

...for many months now, his voice has been coming in from Frederick's
[MD] WFMD [and]...he has recently been signed by WJEJ in...Hagerstown
[also in MD].

...[WJEJ] is ... planning to build its newspaper-trained newcomer into
a network personality.

...his programs are built upon his background and what his apparently
limitless memory recalls to him.

...His eyesight first failed him several years ago...  During his
recuperative period he retired to Maryland peace only to be drawn from
his retirement by the advent of the European war.

...During the elections of 1931 in Great Britain, he served as a
volunteer worker...

...An official guest of the Nazi party for ten weeks, he was able to
gain a unique understanding of the subtle blandishments with which the
Nazis won workers, farmers and artisans to their cause...


The December 19, 1956 Washington Post carried a small article (pg C15)
that indicated MacFarlane was a "representative" of a group called the
"International Rescue Committee" helping to relocate Hungarian


Some other articles that include MacFarlane's name and that might be
of interest to you, but which I was too cheap to pull up myself, are:

GOP Planners Shy From Platform Idea
Dec 7, 1945; pg. 9, 

Complete Radio Coverage Of Conference Planned
Apr 22, 1945; pg. S6

Maryland Native, Now in England, Protests 'Anti-British' Feeling Here'
Aug 30, 1942; pg. L9 


By the way, I tried checking the archives of the Baltimore Sun as
well, on the theory that they might also have fairly detailed coverage
of MacFarlane's exploits, but unfortunately, their archives are not
yet online.

However, a note on their site does indicate that help is available, in
case you want to avail yourself of this option:

Sun Archives 1837-1990: Call 410-332-6800 for information on archive searches. 


Good luck with whatever the heck it is you're up to.


search strategy: Searched the phrase ?Ian Ross MacFarlane? on Google,
various newspaper archives and other sources such as Lexis/Nexis and

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 04 Jan 2004 09:52 PST
P.S. Another obituary, from the 6/6/62 NEWS (Frederick, MD) is almost
word for word the same as the Washington Post article, but adds a few

Wife's name -- Louise
Mother -- Kathleen De LaPort of Yarmouth Nova Scotia
Brother -- William, also of Yarmouth
Sister -- Mrs Gerals Powers of Alexandria, VA

The article, available through subscription service, also
includes a photograph of a younger MacFarlane at a radio microphone.
probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Brilliant, Paf, Far more than I had hoped for.

And many thanks, too, to Freddy & hlabadie for the helpful comments.



Subject: Re: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him?
From: fp-ga on 04 Jan 2004 09:20 PST
Hi, Bryan

I don't know if this is the person in question (if indeed he was born
in England, and not in the USA):

Instead of using
there is also

However, can't tell you anything about 1837online, as I haven't tried it yet.

I suppose you've already read,+Ian+Ross&ArtistNumber=14299

Subject: Re: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him?
From: hlabadie-ga on 04 Jan 2004 09:40 PST
Here's some information about the Mutual Radio Network, for which
MacFarlane worked, and which has since been absorbed by the nearly
ubiquitous Viacom-CBS media company:

Mutual Broadcasting System

Subject: Re: Ian Ross MacFarlane ... What happened to him?
From: pafalafa-ga on 04 Jan 2004 10:38 PST
Thank you Bryan.  As always...a pleasure!


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