If you were a kid growing up in the Los Angeles area from the late 1950's through the early 1980's, chances are that you're familiar with The Popeye Show, which aired on KTLA Channel 5. The Popeye Show grew out of an earlier show called The Pier 5 Club and was later rechristened as Popeye and Friends.
The Popeye Show was one of the many wonderful children's shows that stations around the country produced for their local audiences in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, before they were replaced by syndicated talk shows or local news programs. These home-grown children's shows gave local broadcasters a way to strenghten relationships with the community by entertaining kids and the moms who usually stayed home with them. The shows were initially broadcast live and usually featured a host who introduced cartoons or short filmed segments and often interacted with a live studio audience of local children.
In the case of The Popeye Show, the host was actor/entertainer Tom Hatten and the cartoons were early black and white Popeye cartoons produced by Paramount Studios, which owned station KTLA. What made Hatten and the show special were Hatten's skills as an artist and cartoonist, which Hatten used on the show by teaching viewers how to draw the characters in the Popeye cartoons. He would also read viewer mail and draw cartoon characters that his viewers requested.
One of the special features on the show was the "squiggle" contest, in which viewers would mail in a single-line doodle called a "squiggle," and Hatten would quickly turn it into a drawing of a cartoon character. Sometimes he had guests on the show compete with each other to turn the "squiggles" into recognizable drawings.
Thanks to one of my readers for telling me about The Popeye Show. I haven't found any footage from the original show, but here is a video of host Tom Hatten's appearance on a local talk show where he discusses the early days of the show and how he came to host it.
The reader who turned me on to The Popeye Show also had a question for those of you who grew up in LA. She remembers a TV show she watched as a child, in which there was a man-sized wolf with a black cape or coat, who wore white gloves and sat behind a desk and talked. The show gave her nightmares, but she'd love to know what it was. Does this ring a bell for anyone?
You can read about The Popeye Show and other local children's shows in Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs.