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LIVE KID SHOWS FROM THE 1950's

Ask any Baby Boomer and they'll probably remember their favorite childhood kids shows from the early years of television, but would be hard pressed to know where to view them now. The networks who owned some of these live kid shows never saw a market to make it worth spending the money to save, restore or transfer it to video. 

 

My goal is to restore a remarkable collection one of a kind 16mm Kinescopes featuring such shows as Foodini the Great, Shari Lewis, Rootie Kazootie, Kukla, Fran & Ollie, The Paul Winchell Show and Andy’s Gang, among others, to beautiful High-Definition so that they may be enjoyed by Boomers wishing to relive their time of innocence, their children and future generations.

The programs usually aired in the weekday mornings before school or afternoons after school as well as on weekends. Most shows were locally produced and had a friendly host who assumed the identity such as a cowboy/cowgirl, captain/skipper, commodore/admiral, jungle explorer, astronaut, king, princess, clown, sheriff/deputy/trooper, cop, firefighter, hobo/tramp, railroad engineer, magician, mailman, “cousin", "grandfather" or "uncle".

ANDY'' GANG with Andy Devine

Andy's Gang was a children's television program broadcast on NBC from August 20, 1955, to December 31, 1960, hosted by the actor Andy Devine. It was the successor to the radio and television program Smilin' Ed McConnell and His Buster Brown Gang (later shortened to Smilin' Ed's Gang). Devine took over the television program when McConnell died suddenly of a heart attack in 1954. Devine inherited a number of characters from the earlier show and the sponsor, Buster Brown shoes.

CLICK: Watch more shows, and help document

the show, and Andy Devine's career.

SUPER CIRCUS and Claude Kirchner  & Mary Hartline 1989

SUPER CIRCUS host Claude Kirchner interview with Ira H. Gallen in 1989

Ira Gallen, Claude Kirchner

and my sister Rona 

SUPER CIRCUS in 1956 with

3 Musketeers candy commercials

Click: To learn more about Claude Kirchner

The Billy Johnson Show (1957)

This is the only existing 16mm negative picture & negative audio track of this one hour children show on the Dumont Network starring guitarist/singer Billy Johnson and a group of puppets, including one Teddy Bear.

 

The major purpose of these programs, other than to run advertisements, was as a wraparound for inexpensive programming like the black-and-white Looney Tunes from Guild Films, Betty Boop and Koko the Klown cartoons. Alas, there's no Koko or Betty here, but there are a set of uncensored Looney Tunes featuring Bosco and his dog Bruno ("Bosco and Bruno"), odd Porky Pig shorts ("Porky's Tire Trouble"), Buddy the dog ("Buddy the Woodsman," 1934).

 Lots of plugs for Cocoa Marsh ("Name the Lion" contest), among other products. Johnson sings in a pleasing baritone, in a solid country-and-western mode ("Close Your Sleepy Eyes, Little Buckaroo," "Over the Rainbow" on guitar), and the reproduction quality is amazingly good considering the age of the material (Dumont went out of existence in 1955-56), but what really makes this tape interesting is the interruptions--several of the Looney Tunes are broken up by in-house promos for other Dumont shows, including Grandpa's Place (see above), with host Lee Reynolds stepping out of character, and Jean Ramsay explaining her Weather Wheel spot.

 

 Apparently the BILLY JOHNSON SHOW was sent out as a live feed, and this was inter-cut with promo spots to sponsors, with the hosts making pitches to potential advertisers, who were supposed to see this version of the show privately. Commercials include M&M's candies, Nabisco cereal (with moon men watching a baseball game), One-A-Day Vitamins, Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, the Glen Echo Pool. Two of the puppets sing "Bibbity Bibbity Boo."THE WEATHER WHEEL was an early marketing gimmick to "sell" the weather, ages before such ideas as The Weather Channel, with a national forecast broken down into regions.

WONDERAMA with Sonny Fox on Metro-Media Channel 5

CLICK: To learn more about Sonny Fox, and some of the Wonderama show I want to save and preserve.

As a kid, I would watch on Channel 5, Metro-media a local children's show called WONDERAMA hosted by Sonny Fox every Sunday morning. Today it is virtually impossible to find any of these programs.  I have a half dozen 16mm Kinescopes, made up of Negative Picture, negative audio tracks that need to restored.

​​Irwin "Sonny" Fox is an television host, executive and broadcasting consultant, who was the fourth full-time host of the children's television program, Wonderama. Born June 17, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, Fox attended James Madison High School, in the Midwood/Madison section of Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a traditional Jewish family. Fox is a World War II veteran and, as a POW of the Germans, witnessed the heroism of Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds.

​I was lucky to rescue this 16mm Kinescopes historically important because it was dedicated to the children of Korea. Featuring Korean performers dancing and playing music, this is an uncharacteristically ethnic show for this period. Sonny even tells the Korean story of the Tiger and the Rabbit. This volume also includes the original Stella D'oro Cookie and Cheerios commercials.

A odd DuMont Negtive pic/track of a  segment on animation with the legendary animator Lew Gifford and Sony Fox on Wonderama. He's showcases his storyboards for Ballantine Beer's Barry and Piels campaign.

The Rootie Kazootie Show created by Steve Carlin

Click to learn more about Rootie Kazootie, and watch more shows that need to be restored. The additional 16mm Kinescopes are from the Steve Carlin collection

Click to learn more about Rootie Kazootie, and watch more shows that need to be restored. The additional 16mm Kinescopes are from the Steve Carlin collection

Watch a rare one-of-kind 16mm Kinescope of The Rootie Kazootie show, 30 minutes.from the Steve Carlin collection.

In Search of Animator Bob Clampet (Beany & Cecil)

Mattel commercial for Beany & Cecil

Interview with Bob Clampet's wife Sody about his career.

Other Fabulous Finds of Kids Television from the '50s

WONDERAMA Christmas Toys Segment (1956)

Joe Dimaggio's Dugout (1954)

The first of the shows to hit the airwaves was when Allen DuMont on his DuMont channel created The Small Fry Club hosted by Big Brother Bob Emory and a few months later Birthday Party hosted by deejay Ted Brown which both originated from what would be known as Channel 5 in New York. The first commercially sponsored show over at NBC for kids was Jack Barry’s problem solving quiz show Juvenile Jury.

By 1947 ventriloquists and their dummies, puppets and their real flesh and blood hosts were becoming the biggest celebrities in America next to movie stars. Edgar Bergen and his dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd were household names since before the Second World War, but it was a young Paul Winchell with his dummy Jerry Mahoney as summer replacements for Captain Video that captured the hearts of us boomers and became another big hit for Dumont with Winchell and Mahoney, who later reached fame moving to NBC.

The basic format for all these kid shows had the jovial host who sings songs with the kids, quiz contests to win prizes from local toy companies and showing cartoons. But it was still time consuming for producers, writers, actors and puppeteers to come up with a daily comedy routine for the hosts to interplay with the puppets. Sometimes the puppets had their own ten-minute spot to fill without the live hosts.”       

Channel-17-Peanut-Gallery- A picture of Bill Webber doing live Good & Plenty candy commercial with his audience youngsters looking on.

Diver Dan

CLICK: Watch Diver Dan television shows

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