Jonny Quest was an animated action series focused on the globe-trotting adventures of US government scientist, Dr. Benton Quest; his 11-year-old son, Jonny; his adopted Indian son, Hadji; family bodyguard, Roger "Race" Bannon; and their pet, black-masked bulldog, Bandit. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and ran on ABC in primetime on Friday nights for one season, 1964-65.
The Quests had a home compound on a remote island off the coast of Florida, but they spent most of their time flying around the world on various adventures, usually initiated by scientific mysteries that Dr. Quest pursued. These mysteries often had science fiction elements, from espionage robots to Egyptian mummies to pterosaurs come to life. They usually involved the work of various villains, like the evil recurring nemesis Dr. Zin, an Asian criminal mastermind.
One of the defining aspects of Jonny Quest was its use of limited animation. Like the style used in the earlier animated series Clutch Cargo, Hanna-Barbera used this technique in order to cut corners and meet the tighter scheduling and budgetary demands of television. This meant that characters were usually drawn in static form, with just their moving parts, like legs, mouths, and eyes, re-drawn from frame to frame. When characters had to move, they usually moved from side to side while the background behind them shifted. Though the animation was relatively static and limited, the people and backgrounds were drawn in a realistic and detailed way, and a sophisticated palette of bright colors was used that made the show look lush and expensive, despite the limited animation. The jazz music used in the show also added to its air of sophistication.
Jonny Quest was highly controversial because it featured much more realistic violence than other children's cartoons of its day. It became one of the main targets of parental watchdog groups such as Action for Children's Television. The show was cancelled after only one season, but reruns were broadcast on various networks’ Saturday morning lineups from 1967 to 1972, and highly-edited versions appeared sporadically after that. Hanna-Barbera later produced a revival called The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, which aired on the Cartoon Network in 1996-97.
Wonderama wasa very popular and long-running kids' show that aired from 1955 to 1978. It originated from WNEW-TV in New York City and also appeared on the Metromedia-owned stations in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Kansas City.
Wonderama was a variety show with a studio audience of enthusiastic kids and featured a range of segments that included games, contests, interviews, audience participation, musical performances, and cartoons. The show ran three hours long on Sunday mornings, and there was also a one-hour weekday version for a time. It had a series of hosts over the years, but the longest-running and best-known were Sonny Fox and Bob McAllister.
The show reached its peak of popularity under McAllister, the former host of a children's show in Baltimore. McAllister was a multi-talented performer who sang, played guitar, and clearly had a way with kids. He presided as ringmaster over a fast-paced three hours of fun and games, including several regular features:
"Snake Cans" -- McAllister would choose a series of kids from the audience to open one of ten tin cans arrayed on a long table. Nine of the cans were filled with spring-loaded "snakes" that would fly out when the cans were opened. The tenth can held a bouquet of artificial flowers. All the kids received small prizes, but the child that picked the can with the flowers would win the grand prize, usually a fancy bicycle. All the children also had to answer trivia questions correctly before they received their prizes, but McAllister did his best to see to it that they got the answers right.
"Does Anybody Here Have an Aardvark?" -- McAllister would pick kids from the audience to show off unusual objects they had brought in with them.
"Wonderama-a-Go-Go" -- This was an American Bandstand-type dance contest, later renamed "Disco City," in which the kids competed to win a prize. The record that the children danced to was brought in by "The Disco Kid," a boy dressed in a Lone Ranger-like outfit.
"Exercise, Exercise!" -- All the kids in the audience (and undoubtedly most of those watching at home) got up and worked out.
"Good News" -- McAllister picked children from the audience to read happy news items from newspapers around the country, and then asked other audience members if they had any of their own good news that they wanted to share.
"Whose is Whose is Whose?" -- Four children and four dads were introduced, and kids from the studio audience had to guess which dad was which child's father.
"Guess Your Best" -- This was a game-show-type segment in which three kids competed to guess the results of audience polls and relay races.
"Head of the House" -- This segment featured kids competing against each other in various quirky competitions, like gerbil races, balloon-breaking contests, and so on. The child who won the most competitions was named "Head of the House."
Because it originated from New York, Wonderama was able to feature some of the top stars of the day, including Abba, the Jackson Five, Jerry Lewis, the cast of Monty Python, and even boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, who competed against each other in a game of marbles.
The show would end with McAllister singing the show's theme song "Kids Are People, Too." This became the program's title when it later aired briefly as a national network show on ABC.
This song embodied McAllister's approach to the show, which he treated as a kids' version of The Tonight Show combined with The Today Show, with a little touch of circus thrown in. He was never patronizing to his young audience and seemed genuinely to be having a good time interacting with his guests and the audience as he kept things moving along. Wonderama and McAllister developed a loyal and devoted following who still remember the show fondly today.
Who's the leader of the club That's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!
In the 1950's, every child in America (and probably every adult as well) instantly recognized this refrain as the beginning of the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Club, another iconic hit show from Walt Disney Productions, which had already launched the popular Disneyland series. With its debut in 1955, The Mickey Mouse Club, namedfor the Disney studio's best-known cartoon character,quickly became one of the defining children's TV shows of its day. It had a variety show format that featured singing, dancing, guest stars, classic Disney cartoons, and continuing serials like The Hardy Boys and Spin and Marty.
The series aired five days a week, and each day had its own theme:
Monday - Fun With Music Day Tuesday - Guest Star Day Wednesday - Anything Can Happen Day Thursday - Circus Day Friday - Talent Round-Up Day
The show's most distinctive element was its cast -- a group of wholesome, talented teenagers called the Mouseketeers, who wore mouse-ear hats and sang and danced their way into the hearts of the viewing public. There were also two adult regulars, "head Mouseketeer" Jimmie Dodd, who had also composed the show's theme song, and "Big Mooseketeer" Roy Williams, a rather rotund staff artist at Disney. Every episode of the show would start with the Mouseketeer Roll Call, a musical number in which each of the Mouseketeers would announce themselves by name.
Though many of the Mouseketeers gained name recognition and loyal fans, the most popular Mouseketeer was Annette Funicello, a beautiful and talented teen who was given her own serial on the show and later went on to a successful movie career. Annette was TV's first real child star. Her dark Italian features gave her an "ethnic" look that was unusual for TV in those days, which largely favored blond, blue-eyed actors. In fact, all the Mouseketeers on the original show were white.
The Mickey Mouse Club ran on ABC from 1955-1959, but was cancelled when ABC and Disney couldn't come to terms for renewal. Audience demand brought it back in 1962 as a syndicated series in the form of edited half-hour reruns that ran in various markets until 1968. Disney revived the show in 1977 as The New Mickey Mouse Club, with a disco re-recording of the theme song and a new cast that now featured some minority Mouseketeers. The new version of the show spawned such stars as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell, Kenan and Kel, and Melissa Joan Hart.
Among the many Mickey Mouse Club DVD collections currently available, I would recommend:
Walt Disney Treasures - Mickey Mouse Club, featuring the first five episodes of the show, color archival footage of the Mouseketeers' first appearance at the grand opening celebration of Disneyland, and a reunion of six of the original Mouseketeers on the soundstage where the show was produced
From its debut on ABC in October 1954, through its final telecast on Christmas Eve 2008, the Walt Disney anthology television series commonly known as The Wonderful World of Disney (initiallycalled simply Disneyland) appeared on all three broadcast TV channels at various times under a variety of names, becoming the second-longest-running prime-time program on American television. Watching the show with my family when I was growing up, I was of course oblivious to Disney's incredibly forward-thinking synergy strategy, with the TV show, the Disney studio's theatrical films, and the new Disneyland theme park all designed to promote and market each other and strengthen the overall Disney brand. All I knew was that the show was fun to watch and something that my mom and dad enjoyed watching with me.
The format was a mixture of cartoons, live-action adventures, documentaries, and nature stories, all initially hosted by the affable Walt Disney himself. Much of the material came from the Disney studio library, including one-hour edits or multi-part miniseries of recent Disney films. Unlike the heads of the other major Hollywood movie studios at the time, Disney didn't worry that the new television medium would destroy his movie business. On the contrary, he understood that he could use his TV show to promote and extend the life of his theatrical releases, and vice versa.
A good example of this synergy was the huge success of the 3-part miniseries about the historical American frontiersman Davy Crockett that aired under the show's umbrella in 1955. In the ensuing Davy Crockett craze, the show's theme song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," became a hit record, and Disney sold millions of dollars of Davy Crockett merchandise. Every child I knew had a Davy Crockett lunch box, coonskin hat, fringed jacket or pants, or similar paraphernalia. Then Disney edited the TV episodes into two theatrical films that were quickly released to benefit from and build upon the show's popularity.
Walt Disney approached both NBC and CBS with his plans for producing a TV series, but he ultimately chose third-place network ABC for the debut of Disneyland, because ABC was willing to give him what he wanted in exchange -- a $500,000 investment in the amusement park he dreamed of opening in Anaheim, California. ABC executives were desperate to obtain programming that would give them an edge against their two more established rivals, and they were also very interested in attracting the growing family market in those baby-boom years. ABC's investment paid off quickly, as Disneyland became the network's first series to hit the top ten in ratings.
When the Disneyland theme park opened in July of 1955, ABC aired a live special honoring the new tourist mecca and its founder. Within a year, millions of Disneyland viewers who had seen the park constantly promoted on the TV show poured into Disneyland. In its first year, the theme park grossed $10 million. Walt Disney and his company had shaped two new entertainment forms and interlinked them in a strategy that continued to generate millions of dollars in profits over the ensuing decades.
In this clip from the series' premiere episode, you can see how the show helped to promote both the Disney studio's movie line-up and the planned theme park:
In 1961, Disney moved the show to NBC to take advantage of the fact that it was the first network to broadcast in color. In another prescient decision, Disney had filmed many of his earlier shows in color, even though they could only air in black and white at the time. With the move to NBC, he could now repeat these shows in full color. The series was renamed Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and aired under that name until 1969.
Walt Disney, an inveterate cigarette smoker, died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966. The intros he had filmed before he died remained a part of the show for the rest of that season, but the host segment was then dropped. The series was retitled The Wonderful World of Disney in 1969 and remained popular through the mid-70's. At that point, however, the show's audiences began to decline, as popular tastes changed and the public began to see the Disney brand as square, uptight, and unhip, qualities that America's youth were turning away from.
In 1979, in an attempt to revive the series' fortunes, it was retitled Disney's Wonderful World and given a new opening sequence with a computer-generated logo and disco-flavored theme song.
But growing competition from CBS's new 60 Minutes newsmagazine show combined with frequent preemptions and cancellations by NBC, led to further ratings declines, and NBC cancelled the show in 1981.
CBS then picked up the program and retitled it simply Walt Disney. It ran for another two years, until the debut of the Disney Channel on cable TV. The Disney company then decided that the broadcast show and the fledgling cable channel would cannibalize each other, and production of the program was ended. However, after a change in management at the Disney company, the series was revived in 1986 under the title The Disney Sunday Movie, with new Disney CEO Michael Eisner as host. This version of the show had a movie-of-the-week format, featuring family-oriented TV movies produced by the Disney studio, as well as occasional theatrical films.
The series moved back to NBC in 1988 as The Magical World of Disney, with its original anthology format. But it did not do well and was cancelled in 1990. The Disney Channel continued to use The Magical World of Disney as the umbrella title for its Sunday night movies and specials until 1996. In 1997, after Disney purchased ABC, the series was revived again as The Wonderful World of Disney, airing on Saturday or Sunday evenings until its finale on December 24, 2008, with a telecast of the feature film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Walt Disney's endearing on-screen personality made him an icon of American popular culture. His television series provided wholesome, high-quality, family-oriented entertainment for generations of viewers. And his marketing acumen created a multi-media juggernaut that combined television, movies, theme parks, and licensed merchandise into one of the most successful and powerful brands in the world.
Among the many books and DVD's about the Disney TV series, I suggest the following:
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Art Clokey, the animator who created Gumby, the claymation star of one of my favorite kids' shows in the 1950's, passed away last Friday (see obituary in the New York Times on January 11, 2010). As I noted in my previous post about the Gumby Show, the program was the first extended use of stop-motion animation on television. As a child, I was enchanted by the primitive-looking animation on the show and the fact that Clokey didn't try to make his characters and sets look realistic but instead celebrated the fact that the characters looked like something a child might have made and the sets consisted of toys and miniature models.
I learned some interesting facts about Clokey's life in the Times obituary that shed additional light on the Gumby Show. When Clokey was 8, his parents divorced and he went to live with his father, who was killed in a car accident the following year. Clokey then briefly rejoined his mother in California, but his mother's new husband didn't want Clokey around, and he was placed in a children's home. When Clokey was 11, his fortunes improved when he was adopted by Joseph Waddell Clokey, a well-known composer of sacred and secular music. Joseph Clokey was apparently a loving father who introduced Art to a new world of books and culture.
After graduating from Miami University in Ohio, Clokey attended Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, intending to become an Episcopal priest. However, he left before graduating and returned to California, planning to make religious films. He entered the University of Southern California, where he studied with the modernist filmmaker Slavko Vorkapich. In 1953, he made a student film titled Gumbasia, in honor of the Disney animated feature Fantasia, in which he used the form of claymation that he was to apply to the Gumby Show two years later.
Clokey's religious interests and apparent lifelong search for enlightenment help to explain the subtle undercurrent of spirituality that runs through the Gumby Show. Clokey also created the Davey and Goliath Show, which was explicitly spiritual and was sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Davey and Goliath was designed to teach children values like charity and tolerance.
The Gumby Show was popular through the 1950's and 60's but was pushed aside when slicker violent cartoons began to draw larger audiences in the 1970's. However, Gumby got a new lease on life in the 1980's, when Eddie Murphy created a raunchy caricature of the character on Saturday Night Live. According to Clokey's family, Clokey loved Eddie Murphy's performance.
We are indebted to Art Clokey for creating a charming and whimsical icon that represents some of the best of what children's television has contributed to our culture.
Clutch Cargo was an animated show produced by Cambria Productions that debuted on March 9, 1959, as a syndicated series available to local stations around the country. It stayed on the air through the early 1970's, and could be seen on as many as 65 stations nationwide.
The stories centered around Clutch Cargo, a writer and airplane pilot with a muscular build, white hair and rugged good looks, who traveled the world (and even outer space) on dangerous assignments. Clutch was accompanied by his young ward Spinner and his pet dachsund, Paddlefoot, and sometimes by Clutch's grizzled, pith-helmeted friend Swampy.
What made Clutch Cargo special was its unique style of animation, if you could call it that. In fact, the animation on this series was so limited that it looked more like a series of panels from a comic book. To save money on production, Cambria developed some clever but cheesy-looking ways to simulate motion. If there was an explosion, they would shake the camera or the drawing of the scene to make it look like the earth was trembling. If there was a fire, they would blow real smoke across the drawing. When characters had to walk or run, they would only be shown from the waist up, to save money and time that would have been spent on showing the character's legs moving.
But the animation technique that Clutch Cargo is best-remembered for is the way that it showed characters talking. Using a patented process called Synchro-Vox, the producers filmed the mouths of the live actors speaking the characters' lines and then superimposed the film of the actors' moving lips onto the motionless drawings of the characters' faces. This resulted in a weird-looking and kind of creepy effect that, combined with the other forms of primitive animation in the series, gave it a truly unique look and feel. You can still see the Synchro-Vox technique in use today, most notably in the opening to Spongebob Squarepants. Conan O'Brien used the technique quite often in segments on his former late-night TV show.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its crude animation techniques, Clutch Cargo had a certain charm that helped make it a very successful series. It was cleverly written and beautifully drawn. Its musical soundtrack was as limited, and yet as inventive within those limitations, as the animation. Jazz musician Paul Horn provided the score using nothing more than bongo drums, a vibraphone, and a flute.
In all, 52 Clutch Cargo adventures were produced and then serialized in five five-minute chapters each. The first four chapters naturally ended in cliffhangers, with the fifth chapter concluding the adventure. This format allowed local stations to run one chapter a day on weekdays, then recap all five chapters in a half-hour Saturday show. You can see all five chapters of one continuing episode below.
Clutch Cargo was a very popular show whose content and style influenced many animated series that came later. It may have been the first television cartoon in the U.S. to emphasize adventure rather than humor. Its emphasis on dramatic action in exotic locales and its low-budget animation style can be seen in such later series as Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, and the Mighty Mightor.
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?
It seems hard to believe, but Sesame Street just celebrated its 40th year on the air. I celebrated the show's birthday by attending a panel discussion on "40 Years of Life on the Street" at the Brooklyn Public Library on November 21. The panel was moderated by Louise A. Gikow, a Sesame Street writer, former editorial director at Jim Henson Productions, and author of Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, and featured Bob McGrath, one of the original cast members on the show, where he plays a music teacher who lives in an apartment over Hooper's Store; Fran Brill, the first female muppet performer on the show, who created the muppet characters Prairie Dawn and Zoe; Chris Cerf, the songwriter behind tunes like "Letter B" and "Put Down the Duckie"; Carol-Lynn Parente, the show's Executive Producer; and Rollie Krewson, one of the top puppet designers and builders at the Jim Henson Company, who designed and built Sesame Street muppet characters Zoe, Abby Cadabby, and Murray Monster.
What can I say about Sesame Street that hasn't been said already? Seen around the world for decades by millions of children, Sesame Street is still the preeminent show for preschoolers and the gold standard by which other kids' shows are inevitably judged. As head of research for Sesame Street in the mid-90's, I know a lot about what makes Sesame Street so special, but the panel discussion at the Brooklyn Public Library helped to bring the show's unique features into focus.
Sesame Street started out as an experiment in a new kind of educational television for preschool-age children. From its inception, each episode of the show has been written and produced to achieve specific curriculum goals, and intensive research is conducted to help each show achieve those goals and to measure whether the goals are being met. At the same time, each episode of the show is also written to grab and hold the young audience's attention by entertaining them with amazingly clever and sophisticated comedy, graphics, and music, multi-dimensional puppet and human characters, and engaging plots.
As the panelists explained, Sesame Street writers were recruited from the Harvard Lampoon, comedy shows and clubs, and Broadway. Traditional children's literature writers were not welcome. Consequently, each show has multiple levels of humor and wit that delight adult viewers as much as the kids. The three-year-old viewer may not know or care that "Letter B" is a hilarious riff on the Beatles' "Let it Be," but he or she can still enjoy the song on its own terms.
Sesame Street was certainly influenced by earlier kids' shows, but it added a level of contemporary wit, edge, and intelligence, all in the service of predefined and explicit educational goals that resulted in a transformative new kind of kids show. We can all be grateful that Sesame Street has continued to renew and reinvent itself for successive generations of children and parents around the globe.
In honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, there is a special DVD compilation available -- Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days, a commemorative collection with over 5 hours of iconic moments, favorite songs, celebrity segments and exclusive backstage footage. There's also a wonderful new book about the show's history, Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, which provides an insider's view of all of the Muppet and human characters, as well as the writers, directors, producers, and other creative people who have made learning fun for generations of kids.
One of my absolute favorite shows as a kid was Gumby, a trippy, somewhat surreal series filmed using stop motion clay animation.There were 233 episodes of the show produced over the course of its 40-year history on TV, all featuring the green clay robot-like little boy with the big feet and slanted head, and his sidekick Pokey, a talking pony.
Created by animator Art Clokey, who developed the unique style of claymation later used in the series while he was a student at the University of Southern California, Gumby made its debut as a short segment on the Howdy Doody Show in 1956 and became a series on NBC the following year.Production on this version of the show continued through the late 60’s.In the 1980’s, the original Gumby episodes enjoyed a revival on TV and home video, which led to production of a new version of the series for syndication.
Besides Pokey, other characters regularly featured in the series were the Blockheads, a duo of red humanoid figures with block-shaped heads, who always created mischief and mayhem; Gumby’s parents Gumba and Gumbo, and later his sister, Minga; Prickle, a yellow dragon; Goo, a flying blue mermaid; Tilly, a chicken; and Denali, a mastadon.
What made the series visually unique was that Clokey didn’t disguise the fact that his characters were made out of clay or try too hard to make the characters and settings look realistic.Instead, each episode highlighted how the characters could melt into various shapes and then reconfigure back to their original forms.The settings for the show were little toy houses and villages, and Gumby and the other characters were like toy figures brought to life.Many of the episodes included a sequence in which Gumby and Pokey would physically slip into a book and then have an adventure in the world of the book’s story.
There was something about the primitive look of the animation and the way that Gumby and the other characters seemed like clay figures made by a child and brought to life to play out a child’s imaginary stories that delighted and entranced me as a young viewer.Gumby’s personality seemed very much like that of a real child, but he existed in a surreal, magical world where anything could happen.I think there is something about that combination that made Gumby so fascinating to so many generations of kids and adults.
An interactive TV show in the 1950’s?!?That’s right, Winky Dink and You, which aired Saturday mornings on CBS from 1953 to 1957, employed a simple but brilliant marketing gimmick that actually allowed kids to “interact” with the TV. The show featured host Jack Barry and his sidekick, the aptly-named Mr. Bungle, who showed clips of the animated adventures of a crudely-drawn star-headed, big-eyed little boy named Winky Dink and his dog Woofer.
What made the show unique was the use of a “magic drawing screen” and set of special crayons that came in a kit that children could buy in order to interact with the cartoon.The screen was actually a large TV-shaped piece of see-through vinyl that stuck to the TV screen by static electricity.At a climactic point in every Winky Dink cartoon, Winky would encounter some obstacle or danger, along with a connect-the-dots picture included in the scene.Winky Dink would then ask the children at home to help him out by connecting the dots on the screen with their crayons, and the resulting drawing would turn out to be a rope, ladder, bridge, or whatever Winky needed to solve his problem.
The interactive screen was also used to send secret messages to the audience. A message would appear on the screen, but only the vertical lines of the letters in the message were visible.Viewers at home would quickly trace these lines onto their magic screen. Then a second screen would appear showing only the horizontal lines, and when viewers also traced these onto their magic screens, the full message would appear.
Another way the magic screen was used was to have the viewers create the outline of a character with whom host Jack Barry would have a conversation. The scene appeared meaningless to viewers without the magic screen and the drawing.
Because of the ingenious magic screen, Winky Dink and You became a big hit in the 1950’s.And the producers profited handsomely from sales of the screen and crayon kits, which every child had to have.Of course, you can guess what happened in the homes of kids whose parents wouldn’t buy them the kits.Some of them simply got out their own crayons and drew right on their TV screens, which couldn’t have been good for their parents’ expensive shiny new Philco or RCA set.
Winky Dink and You was revived in syndication as a five-minute stand-alone cartoon from 1969-1973, but production was halted because of parents’ concerns about the possibility of radiation emanating from TV sets and about kids’ harming their eyesight by watching the TV screen from so close-up.The continuing problem of kids drawing directly on the TV screen probably didn’t help matters either.
In an ironic footnote to the show’s history, host Jack Barry went on to fame and notoriety when he later became the host of Twenty-One, a popular prime-time quiz show that he also co-produced.In 1958, it was revealed that Twenty-One’s top-prize winner Charles Van Doren had secretly been given the answers to some of the questions he correctly answered on the show.Twenty-One was taken off the air, and Barry’s career was over.