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TT

Great blog idea!
This story is part of my family history. On the monumental morning that our first TV (a Philco) was delivered and set up in the living room, we kids settled in to watch. Mom told the story that, after some hours, my brother, a bit bleary-eyed, wandered into the kitchen where she was making dinner. “How do you like the new television?” she asked. He replied with some hesitation, “It’s –ok.” “What’s the matter,” Mom asked, “Don’t you like it?” He replied with a perspective unique to that moment in history, before children were inculcated from birth in the technique of watching TV. He said, “It’s just -- it’s too long!”

Judy Glassman

I remember a local show called Captain Video & His Video Rangers. It was Star Trek on a budget, very low tech but to a 6 year old it was magic.
This was before Sputnik and the Apollo missions, so there was still an enormous amount of mystery involved in space travel. My parents thought it was junk, so of course I wanted to watch it all the more. I did have my illusions dashed however, when I won some sort of contest and was given tickets to a live broadcast. That space ship that looked so impressive on our black and white 10" Dumont set was pretty puny in the studio. Nevertheless an impression was made, and years later I went into television production as my life's profession!

Marilyn Singer

I watched Captain Video, too. I think he was my first crush. And I was also a Pinky Lee fan. Two of my favorite shows when I was a bit older (eight) were Robin Hood with Richard Greene and Sir Lancelot with William Russell. I wanted to BE Robin Hood and Sir Lancelot, not any of those namby-pamby maidens. I think that's why I took a class in fencing in college...

Fun idea, Jo!

Didi

Hadn't thought about these shows in ages - I remember Romper Room, Bozo the Clown, Shari Lewis and I think Mr. Rodgers (although this one might be a planted recovered memory). My son resisted watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle videos I brought home, but then absconded with them. I can tell you that those, at least, hold up pretty well.

Ellen

wonderful post! I never saw this show before - but after watching him run around and pant breathlessly, I can understand how he had a heart event.

TT

Did anyone see the show with Bozo the Clown when he thought the camera was off? I've heard several versions. In one, told to me by someone who did actually claim to have seen it, a kid said something which today would be bleeped and made a rude hand gesture. In another, Bozo made a strongly worded comment about the audience. Did these things really happen? Are there recordings somewhere? These must be the legendary origins of Crusty.

Jo Holz

Thanks for all the great comments and stories, everyone! TT, there are so many tales about kids' TV show hosts using profanity or saying nasty things about the audience when they wrongly thought that the microphone was turned off, it's hard to know which of them, if any, are actually true. In my home town of Boston, I think there was a local kids tv show host ("Big Brother" Bob Emery)whose show was cancelled when he said something bad on the air, but maybe this is just another variation on the myth. Perhaps it really did originate with Bozo. Does anyone know the real story?

Steve Gorelick

I aboslutely share this obsession with early kids programming. My Dad had been a radio actor who did kid's shows locally in LA when TV arrived. He couldnt make the transition for a perfectly understandable reason. His radio specialty was doing babies and little kids! A 22 year old who did 3 year olds was a bit of a problem for TV!

As someone who grew up in almost the same years that TV grew up, I soaked this stuff up. A lot of it, as you know Jo, was local and, if you ask anyone -- I mean anyone -- who grew up in 1950s and early 1960s LA who Tom Hatten or Engineer Bill or Sherrif John were, they will know. And they will start to sing theme songs immediately. A lot of local stations produced kid's shows to wrap around nationally distributed cartoons like Popeye.

One thing I have thought a lot about. Those hosts were gentle men. I can;t tell you how much I think I owe to a bunch of male hosts whose "brand" revolved around sweetness. The world was packed with enough macho posturing. These men showed a different way. Bob Keeshan, Tom Hatten, Fred Rogers, Bill Stulla, John Rovick.

I wrote something about this when Fred Rogers died.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0303/p09s01-coop.html

I can't wait to follow the blog. Good luck.

PS I can't wait till we get to Frances Horwich and Ding-Dong School!

Jo Holz

Steve, great observation about the "gentle men" who hosted many of these kids' shows back then. Seems to me they constituted one category of male hosts, while Pinky Lee represented a contrasting model of the wacky, mischievous, and more childlike persona(though Pinky was also sweet in his own way). We'll definitely be discussing Ding-Dong School soon...

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