Funny Business with Jane Wells

Eliot Spitzer, Human Answering Machine!

Federal agents aren't the only ones who caught Eliot Spitzer on audio tape. So did we. Sort of.

Veteran CNBC producer Steve North has met a lot of people in his career. Back in 1981 he was working overnights at NBC Radio. He bought an answering machine (calling it "new-fangled") because he thought he could probably get more sleep during the day if he didn't have to answer the phone.

After colleague Jeffrey Lyons told him he often asked interviewees to record greetings for his machine, Steve started doing the same thing.

"One of my first was Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West," Steve says. "After she died, I started running it once a year, when they broadcast 'Wizard' on TV; still one of my best."

"I have over 90, ranging from the great comedians -- Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason -- to political figures (the range there is from the late Abbie Hoffman to Rev. Al Sharpton), to many of the hundreds of actors I've interviewed over the years -- Ron Howard, Henry Winkler..."

North's cousin, Shari Lewis, did one in the guise of her character Lamb Chop, calling him "black sheep of the family."

He says his most recent addition is from Danny DeVito, who recorded a second greeting for Steve 20 years after his first. "In the new one, he says 'This is Danny DeVito. I've been answering Steve's machine for 20 years. Leave him a message already, for crying out loud!'"

Spitzer on the Phone

Steve still uses that same machine. And whose voice greets you today? None other than Eliot Spitzer, whom Steve first met in 1991. The disgraced outgoing New York governor credited Steve with helping him get national exposure, during the years Steve worked as a producer for Geraldo Rivera.

Click on the video above to listen. The message was recorded the day before Spitzer was elected Governor.

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