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'Car Talk' host Tom Magliozzi dies at 77

Tom Magliozzi, the eldest of "Car Talk"'s "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers," died Monday from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

By Gabrielle Levy
Tom Magliozzi, right, with younger brother Ray. Better known as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers," the Magliozzis hosted "Car Talk" on WBUR and NPR from 1977 to 2012. Tom Magliozzi died Nov. 3, 2014. UPI/Car Talk
1 of 5 | Tom Magliozzi, right, with younger brother Ray. Better known as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers," the Magliozzis hosted "Car Talk" on WBUR and NPR from 1977 to 2012. Tom Magliozzi died Nov. 3, 2014. UPI/Car Talk

BOSTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Tom Magliozzi, half of NPR's beloved Car Talk duo, died Monday at the age of 77.

"I have the sad duty to report today that Tom Magliozzi, one of the hosts of Car Talk, passed away this morning due to complications of Alzheimer's Disease," said Car Talk executive produce Doug Berman in a statement Monday.

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"Tom's been such a dominant, positive personality amongst us for so long that all of us in the public radio family -- and I include our millions of listeners -- will find this news very difficult to receive," Berman said.

Magliozzi hosted the auto-themed show with his younger brother, Ray, for more than three decades as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers."

They began their weekly call-in show, a humorous and informative hour of car questions, jokes and puzzles, on WBUR in Boston in 1977. The show began airing on the national network in 1987, and continued until they retired in 2012. The show continues to air, pulling from thousands of hours of archival material.

In 1992, Car Talk won a Peabody Award for distinguished achievement and meritorious pubic service by television or radio.

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"Each week, master mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi provide useful information about preserving and protecting our cars," the Peabody Awards said.

"But the real core of this program is what it tells us about human mechanics... The insight and laughter provided by Messrs. Magliozzi, in conjunction with their producer Doug Berman, provide a weekly mental tune-up for a vast and ever-growing public radio audience."

The Magliozzis grew up in East Cambridge in a tight-knit Italian family, close despite their 12-year age difference.

"They liked to act like they were just a couple of regular guys who happened to be mechanics, but both of them graduated from MIT," wrote NPR's Lynn Neary.

After a near-fatal accident, Magliozzi was inspired to stop working as an engineer and eventually came up with the idea of a do-it-youself car repair shop. The brothers opened Hackers Heaven in the early '70s, then later, a more traditional shop, the Good News Garage.

When WBUR needed a panel of car mechanics for a talk show, they called Ray, who sent Tom in his stead. It went so well he brought Ray the next week, and the idea for Car Talk was born.

"Please note that the Magliozzi family is asking that in lieu of flowers, friends and listeners make a donation to either the Alzheimer's Association or their favorite public radio stations in Tom's memory," Berman said. "It's just one more gift to us from a guy who gave so much to our network and its listeners over the decades."

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