Recently on LEOG, we've had a very spirited discussion on cartoon shows. A lot of ground got covered but mostly from the 1970's to now. I have to admit that the 1960's were a deluge of Hanna Barbara. But what I'd like to show all you hip kids out there are some of the show I used to watch as a kid outside the range of your average half hour cartoon show. These shows were locally produced with the exception of Captain Kangaroo and were hosted by adults playing characters. The last show I remember of this kind was Pee Wee's Playhouse in the 1980's but that was a weekend show. These shows I'm about to share with you were daily or twice weekly shows, so sit back, grab a bowl of your favorite cereal and let me take you on a trip back in time to when there was less to watch, but less was far more than what's on today!
First, let me start with the king of kids TV...the one, the only Captain Kangaroo! I'm sure there are alot of you scratching your heads wondering who the hell is this clown...no, he's not a clown, well he used to be, at one time he played Clarabell the Clown on the Howdy Doody show. I'm not covering that show because it WAS before my time believe it or not. Captain Kangaroo was a charming, soft spoken man who not only showed some fun cartoons such as Tom Terriffic but showed us how to make a million things from a shoe box. My love of craft and art started with this show. He had a host of regulars such as the farmer, Mr. Green Jeans who would bring on the animals and tells us about them along with Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear and the two puppets who gave him nothing but greif, Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. Bunny would do anything for carrots and Mr. Moose, well the little guy had an obsession with ping pong balls....watch this clip and you'll get the idea:
Moving on to another national show Bozo The Clow...now this one was a bit different in the fact that it was syndicated and each region had it's own Bozo. Larry Harmon who created the character would hand pick and train these regional Bozos to run their show in a set format. The circus setting was fun and Bozo was the ringmaster.....but the earlier shows did have a ringmaster character as I remember and one lucky kid was piced to be "Butch", the circus boy and Bozo's best pal as shown in the Bozo cartoons. The clip I have is from Philadelphia:
Locally produced kids shows were a great way to fill in time slots in the early morning before school and after. A local show from WMUR Manchester NH that I watched every day was The Uncle Gus Show. Uncle Gus was a guy who did the weather and somehow got roped into this kids show they built around him. It was pretty primative by today's standards...kids would sit in a small crampt studio and watch Popeye, Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy cartoons...they had pic pictures of these characters on the back wall of the set. Uncle Gus sat at a desk and would have some of the kids come sit next to him and talk and play Simon Says and all the kids would get a nice bar of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy...good stuff, especially when you put it in the freezer then smacked it on the counter and ate the little pieces....oh, back to the show! Unfortunatly there is no footage from the show...I did find one clip but Uncle Gus wasn't on that day, but I did find a picture of him....he recently passed away a few years ago, but is remembered fondly around these parts:
Oh, I almost forgot..this was one of the exciting games played on the show...Boob Tubes...you shake them to see who can get all the marbles to the bottom first and win a prize...like Jiffy Pop popcorn or something else not too costlly...hey, it was a low tech age gang!
Heading down to Boston, we had a really strange show....Willie Whistle. This was a clown who used a whistle as his voice...annoying to say the least. I don't remember much about this show but this clip is funny:
This next show I fondly remember watching weekday mornings before heading off to school. Major Mudd was the name of the show. He was an astronaught with a perchance for trouble. I wish I could find clips from the show so you could see the pie in the face he got with every show on board his spaceship the Nervious One. This clip is from a benefit put on for him. He died in the early 70's from diabetes related kidney failure.
Here's a picture of the good Major in better days:
His sign off was IBBY...I'll Be Blasting You.......good stuff!
One of my favorites was from WPIX NY...The Chuck McCann Show.....It was so cool to hear the guys talk about him from Comic Con, brought back alot of memories. I loved his show as a kid.
I wish there was footage from the skits he did with the puppets...yeah, we had alot of puppets back in the day...cheaper than cartoons, but alot creepier!
Well, it's getting late so I'll finish the blog with the biggest of the kiddie shows of Boston...Rex Trailer's Boomtown! Rex was a real cowboy from El Paso who could rope, ride and sing...and he was snapping a bullwhip long before Indiana Jones showed up! Over the years he had three different sidekicks, "Pablo" from 1956-1967 (played by actor Richard Kilbride), then "Cactus Pete" from 1967-1969 (played by Terrance Currier), and finally "Sgt. Billy" played by actor Bill O'Brien. I have to admit they played Pablo as the sterotype lazy Mexican, in fact they had a contest for kids to write in to find the best way to wake Pablo up in time for the show! Plus the fact that they didn't even try to find an Hispanic actor....those were the days!
But it was a great show...Rex is still alive and kicking keeping busy with TV production and teaching at Emerson College in Boston.
Here's a clip from that show:
Well, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have. For me this has been a fun trip back to my childhood. I wish some of the clips were better but you have to understand that back then, these shows were considered disposable and were not ment to be archived...and what a shame that is. I never got to be on any of these shows, but it's fun to share my memories this way with you.