Funeral arrangements set for St. Louis comedian Craig Hawksley

By Sally Tippett Rains

Long-time comedian Craig Hawksley, once known as “the Dobb’s Guy” passed away this week. He was 69. St. Louisans remember him as the television spokesman for Dobbs Tires; and also the bits he did as “Spike Shannon” but his career spanned many other areas.

“Craig was an engaging and personable guy,” Bob Costas told STLSportsPage.com. Costas worked with him on some of the Bob Costas Dinners put on for Cardinal Glennon Childrens’ Hospital.  “He was also very funny. He was affectionate rather than mean spirited. It always brought the house down.”

Hawksley had a very successful stand-up comedy career traveling the country including the Bahamas doing comedy shows for large corporations such as Anheuser-Busch.

He also played comedy clubs throughout the country and one of them was Fred DeMarco’s Deja Vu Comedy Club in Columbia, Mo.  Déjà Vu, which opened in  1975 as a disco bar, eventually became Columbia’s most popular comedy club and Hawksley was right there at the top of the comedy entertainment at the Vu along with other  performers such as Tim Allen, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy,  Kathleen Madigan, George Lopez, and Drew Carey.

“(Craig) was one of the first comedians I hired when I started (the comedy club) in 1984,” DeMarco said in a Facebook post.

Hawksley was famous for a time for his “Spike Shannon” impersonations of a certain baseball announcer– and he even did them in commercials.

“His Mike Shannon impression was spot on perfect,” said Costas.

Comedian Dan Chopin was a friend of his and he and their friend Joe Marlotti had just gotten together Monday night at Blueberry Hill.

“We were just talking like old friends, the usual stuff,” said Chopin. “We were making plans for the next time we got together.

In August of 2021 they got together with other comedian friends. The photo, left, courtesy of Chopin, is Bert Borth, Mark Sweeney, Hawksley, Chopin and Joe Marlotti.

“Craig enjoyed hanging around with the comics,” he said. “We liked to sit around and talk like any other friends. Craig played a big part in the early days of comedy, the whole 80’s when we were getting started.”

“He was instrumental in getting live comedy started in St. Louis. It started in 1978 at the Mindshaft and then Bilbo Baggins from 1980-’82 and then on to Westport which was Cleo’s Comedy Club. Cleo’s morphed into the Funny Bone.”

Charlie Williams who lies in the pacific northwest and works in comedy and art said Hawksley had a big effect on his life.
“I met Craig when I was a teenager at the Funnybone comedy club, Westport,” he said. “I wasn’t old enough to be in the club and had to have a school chaperone. I tried out a sound effect routine about the noises of driving an old car during an open mic night when Craig was the emcee,. He came right over and we hit it off.”
He went on to work in radio for KRAL/KIQZ in Wyoming and the local library commissioned him to produce a radio show called Sound Safari Theater to help them connect with outlying communities. He drew a daily comic strip cartoon  called Big Butte Junction for newspapers in the area. The multi-talented Williams who runs the website, DoodleRumpus credits Craig Hawksley for bringing him out of his shell.  Williams said he considered himself shy and did not like speaking in public, and that he helped him.
“He was supportive of my on stage onomatopoeia and helped me overcome being shy,” he told STLSportsPage.com. “We exchanged noises over the years, I can remember we were offstage joking about the Dog Museum once. I remember saying it was tough getting in through that small door. We laughed and laughed and did so many shows together. I never saw him get flustered, he was always calm, in control and just a sweet guy. He was very inspirational! Sometimes in my programs I perform these days, for students and kids in libraries and schools; I think ‘Oh Craig would like that bit’.”

Someone posted one of Craig Hawksley’s 1982 gigs as Spike Shannon at the Baseball Writers Dinner on YouTube. The whole thing aired on KMOX Radio. To hear Hawksley and Jack Buck commenting on it CLICK HERE. 

Hawksley was very proud of his three daughters and enjoyed gardening.  Shown in the photo, right are his daughters Ally Hawksley, Emma Hawksley, and Caity Leuken, as well as his ex-wife Terri Williams. Williams, the former Mayor of Webster Groves, and Hawksley did public speaking together as “The Mayor and the Comedian” and they remained friends and a family throughout the years. Their daughter Ally lives in California and is pursuing a career in the family business of entertainment, where she has worked in television production for Shot in the Dark, Project Runway and even did some work on Welcome to Sweetie Pies.

With all the excitement of his career, the thing that seemed to be the crown on his life was his grandson, Ozzy. He really enjoyed his time with his daughter Caity and her husband Ben’s son. He lit up at the chance to be with them.

Though he has not posted on his Twitter account since 2014, when he was active he would post jokes like: “My youngest daughter and I converse in Spanish. She studied it in Madrid, I learned it from the aisle signs at Wal-Mart.”

Craig Hawksley was a recent guest on Ken Calcaterra’s podcast, Conversations with Calcaterra. To hear a sample of his stand-up jokes and the interview,  CLICK HERE.

Besides the commercial work and the corporate entertainment, Hawksley was a popular addition to KSHE-FM for a time  on the Morning Zoo program with John Ulett and fellow disc jockeys Smash and Rob Buttery.

In 1995 wrote and produced the classic “Nights at White Castle” that Ulett did. It was a parody on the Moody Blues song, Nights in White Satin, with Hawksley’s funny lyrics describing happenings at the local White Castle hamburger joint. The photo shown left is from his KSHE days and is courtesy KSHE.

He also did some acting and was  known for The Express (2008 featuring Dennis Quaid, where he played George Marshall), Never My Love (2014, where he played Scotti), Game of Their of their Lives, (2005, where he played manager Walter Giesler) and King of the Hill,  the AE Hodgner biopic film short (2013 with Adrian Brody and Jessie Bradford, with Steven Soderberg directing)

Touring and performing was a way of life and for part of a year, Hawksley was with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and wrote much of the material on Bill Engvall’s comedy album, that went gold. In fact, here is a video of Bill Engvall introducing Craig at the Ryman Theater in Nashviillea:

 

After years of doing the stand-up, acting and writing comedy he started a speaking business and was represented by Dick Hall Productions. Some of his clients were the Bob Costas Cancer Center at Cardinal Glennon, Ronald McDonald House, MasterCard International, United Van Lines, Amoco, Cadillac, Dr. Pepper, Boy Scouts of America, Fraternal Order of Police, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For several years, before retiring Hawksley was an adjunct professor at Webster University where he taught classes including: “The History of Stand-Up Comedy: An Original American Artform. “The Craft of Comedy in Scriptwriting”. First Year Seminar: “Great Thinkers: The Art of Comedy in Literature.”

Craig Hawksley, who was born April 13, 1952 is the father of Ally Hawksley, Caity (Ben) Lueken and Emma Hawksley; former husband of Terri Williams, former Mayor of Webster Groves; son of George and Mickey Hawksley. He was the brother to Terry Hawksley, Michael (Helen) Hawksley, the late Debbier(John) Modesto; and grandpa to Ozzy Lueken.

Visitation January 14th 1 p.m.-7 p.m. at Kutis -Affton, 10151 Gravois Rd., St.  Louis, MO 63123. Celebration of Life to follow in April.
In lieu of flowers- the family requests donations to:
St. Mary’s High School
4701 S Grand
St. Louis, MO 63111
Craig Hawksley Student Council Fund

Photos are courtesy the Hawksley-Williams family.

 

 

About stlsportspage 1778 Articles
For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.