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HERE ARE SOME VIDEO outtakes FROM
WONDERAMA STARRING SONNY FOX.
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Videos provided by your friends Brian McCarty and Chris Gross.
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"Sonny Fox made a couple of kid's records in his career.
"He did one for "Peter Pan" records titled: "Inside Kids With Sonny Fox!" where he talked with a group of youngsters on a variety of subjects: God, life, death ,family ,school, games, What it like to be a kid? etc
"Mr. Fox told his own version of Paul Tripp's and George Kleinsinger's children's musical story: "Tubby The Tuba" on Simon Sez Children's records.
"Sonny was also featured on the soundtrack of the movie recording of "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't". The story had "Santa" being blackmailed into giving up Christmas presents as a alternative for not being able to pay his rent to his mean and vindictive landlord: "Mr.Phineases T.Prune" (played by Rossaino Brazzi).
"Santa's lawyer: "Sam Whipple" (Paul Tripp) gets Santa a job at "Prim's Dept .Store" where Santa asks the kids what they want for Christmas, how old they are, have they been good little boys and girls, what they like to do for fun, etc.
"Sonny played "Mr. Prim" the dept store owner and he's heard briefly on the record. The record was cut by RCA Camden Children's records.
"The movie "Christmas That Almost Wasn't" was produced and released by Childhood Prods. Inc and filmed in Rome, Italy in l966. Sadly there are very few copies of these records that exist. I am still trying to find copies of these rare pieces of TV and movie history."
Wonderama with Sonny Fox was the earliest recollection I have of children's television. Every Sunday morning I would sit in front of my parents RCA B/W ,with my glass of "CoCo Marsh" (remember?) and watch Sonny Fox.
For my 10th birthday (1966) my mom got me and my friends tickets to Wonderama. I remember going down to the WNEW studios on a rainy Wednesday for the taping. A lunch that consisted of a tuna fish sandwich and a soft drink was served before the taping. Once the show started I couldn't understand why we couldn't see the cartoons in the studio as we did on TV at home. (I later learned about TV editing.) The show I attended had Sonny Fox as host and Rogers & Hammerstein as guests.
Too bad Nick at Night never aired these old shows. I think it would bring back a lot of childhood memories to people my age. By the way....what ever happened to Sonny Fox?
- Bruce Fleischhacker
I remember watching Wonderama every Sunday from 9am to 1pm on Channel 5 (before FOX became a regular network) when it was a local New York station.
But does anyone remember that Sonny Fox also hosted a Saturday show called "Just for Fun" with two teams - the Blue and the Gold? They played games for prizes and the home viewing audience could participate by mailing in postcards and choosing either the Blue or Gold Team. The cards were kept in separate barrels and one for each team would be chosen for each game played. The home viewer whose team won also received a prize. I won a REMCO (remember them?) styrofoam raft which I proudly took to the beach.
- Shelley Levine
Now I realized Wonderama was like going to the Catskills - Simon says, joke telling, magicians (The Amazing Randi), and spots on the Jewish holidays.
Sonny (Irwin) Fox hosted Just for Fun on Saturdays and Wonderama on Sundays. Sonny Fox was probably the first Jewish man I ever met (so to speak). Most of what I know about the Jewish hoidays I learned on his show.
I read that Sandy Becker did Wonderama BEFORE Sonny Fox did, but I don't recall that (I was born in 1953, and we always had a TV).
- Tom Derise
Wonderama was the only show on Sunday worth watching. My sister and I would sit in our PJ's watching all morning in our Queens apartment.
Wonderama was a great show, later in college I used to pick up girls by asking if they remembered the show. They would either not know what I was talking about, or be real enthusiastic. Believe it or not, it worked!!!
I'd like to add to your page my experience of being on the Sunny Fox Show July, 1962. I was 7 years old. Typical Jewish kid from Sedwick housing Projects in the Bronx. I was shocked to see how small and dingy the studio was. You had a choice of Tuna or Peanut butter sandwiches.
I finally got to see Sonny, poor guy always had a 4 O'clock shadow even at 9: A.M He looked a lot different in person than on my parents 1950 model Admiral TV. When my hero made it to the bleachers to interview the kids I started yelling Sonny! Sonny! He asked me WHAT.....I very coyly said "I have to go to the bathroom....He was very nice, he told them to CUT and had his assistant usher me to the bathroom. Problem was I really didn't have to go so I faked it.
Later in the show I was picked in a game. "Who do you want to be? " Most kids said Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Floyd Patterson....when it came to me....I stuttered, dribbled and said.....I....I....want to be you....So Sonny sat me at his desk and had me take over his job...The next kid told me that he wanted to be a cameraman so I sat there and did nothing.....Sonny took over and gave the kid a TV camera. Sonny played Hide Go Seek with the Camera, sticking his tongue out, acting like Sonny......He was a really great sport who loved kid's and his job. I'm 44 years old, a father and husband and still think back to that wonderful day.
- Richard F
I had the good fortune to appear on Wonderama three times as a kid.
The first time was when Sonny Fox was the host - I had the biggest crush on him. I don't remember that much about this particular appearance - I think I was 7 - except that near the beginning of the show they used to play "Getting to Know You" and pan the audience and show closeups of the kids. I was one of the first kids they focused on and had no idea I was on camera so I look really spacey. But I guess the producers thought I was cute, because after the show they asked my parents if I could return to appear on a special they were producing called "Wonderama in Portugal" (which I'm sure no one remembers at all).
No, we didn't get to go to Portugal. They just dressed up the 67th Street studio to look like Lisbon, I guess (hey, I was 7, what did I know???). The part I do remember is at one point we're all supposed to be sitting in an outdoor cafe and Sonny Fox was telling us about a tradition where the men wore black capes and when a girl kissed them, they would tear off a piece of the cape depending on how good the kiss was. Three girls got to kiss him and I was last. He told me to take the whole cape. I was really embarrassed but my grandmother thought it was adorable. What I'd give for a copy of that show now ...
Finally, I went on again (I was so spoiled!) when I was 12 and Bob McAllister was hosting it. I remember very clearly standing outside on line in my little hot pants outfit with my cousin waiting to get into the studio. I was one of the four finalists in the Wonderama-A-Go-Go contest and got to dance in the little cage. One of the biggest thrills of my life to that point - but I was dismayed to find out that those little cages were a lot smaller than they looked and since my "dance routine" consisted of some step-step-step-kicks (picked up from a babysitter who won talent night at the Apollo) I was kind of squished and didn't win the Ross bicycle (just as well - I didn't know how to ride a bike).
I did, however, win a Viewmaster by telling two bad jokes and balancing something on my nose.
I would love to know what's the latest with Sonny Fox. But someone told me recently that he'd died - is this true? The thought of losing Bob McCallister, Sonny Fox AND Sandy Becker would make me feel really, really old.
- Lisa Winston
SONNY FOX TODAY:
"Contrary to what one contributor mentioned on the TVparty site, Sonny Fox is not dead. At least that's what he told me a few years back.
"My big brother got to sit in the audience on Wonderama, so Sonny Fox was always kind of a big deal in our house in Jersey. Okay, maybe not as big as Soupy Sales.
"I work as a news producer and came across an interesting story a few years ago about a group called Population Communications International. They devote a lot of their energies toward encouraging writers and producers of soap operas to put some kind of socially relevant message in their shows -- not just U.S. soaps, but in countries with serious concerns about overpopulation like India and Mexico and the Phillippines. Their primary focus is on getting out anti-AIDs and pro-contraception information, preventing teenage pregnancies, and trying to use entertainment shows to get this message out (Even if it's a somewhat controversial one, especially in predominantly Catholic countries).
"I got a call from their chairman, Sonny Fox. I told him he had the same name as a kid's show host I used to watch in New York thirty years ago. He went into a Wonderama routine over the phone.
"When we shot our story with him, Sonny looked pretty much the same; not bad for someone who's got to be around seventy. He didn't look like he'd been re-built by a bunch of plastic surgeons, either. He was charming and very much committed to his full-time cause.
"He has since hosted a Hollywood event called the "Soap Summit," where producers and stars of "All My Children" and all those other shows got together and discussed politics. Weird, but interesting.
"If you're curious, his organization's website is: www.population.org "
- Peter Dykstra - Senior Producer / CNN
"To the Wonderama Kids,
"Stumbling on the Wonderama site and reading the thoughts of past acolytes, I feel a bit as though I had died and am eavesdropping on chit chat at my funeral.
"Whenever I meetup with former viewers, I am struck by how vivid the realtionship remains. What wonderful satisfaction to know that one has left a thumbprint on the malleable minds of young people--an impression which is still alive after thirty years.
"I am ensconced in LA, happily occupied as Sr. VP of Population Communications International.
- Sonny Fox
by Kevin S. Butler
After completing his radio assignments in North Korea following the conflicts in 1954, Sonny Fox returned to the USA via St. Louis, Mo. with the promise that he would become a TV news anchor. When that broadcasting job failed to materialize, he was asked to host a new children's series for the up and coming Educational (PBS) TV affiliate KETC TV.
The series format had Fox traveling around the St. Louis area and introducing his viewers to the sights, people and events that are a part of the "Show Me State's" culture.
The show's pilot, titled The Finder, was a hit and Sonny Fox became kid TV's very first news magazine and travelogue host. Every week he continued to trek across St. Louis in search of interesting situations until the fall of 1955 when he was invited to host a similar kid's news magazine / travelogue for CBS. (The Finder continued on KETC TV with Phil Geary and later by Steve Bloom until 1955.)
Sonny returned to NYC to co-host Let's Take A Trip with two young traveling companions Ginger MacManus and Brian ("Pud") Flannagan. Debuting on Sunday afternoon April 17, 1955 Sonny and his two friends trekked to many far off places and introduced viewers to the Bill Baird Puppet Studios, The American Ballet Theater Co. and it's lead choreographer the legendary George Ballenchine, participated in the Boy Scouts' Jamboree, and attended the NYC Toy Fair. They even traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet then US President Harry S. Truman.
Eventually, Ms. MacManus outgrew her role on the program and left the show in 1957. Mr. Flannagan left the show in 1958 and they were replaced by kid actors Joan Terrace and Jimmy Walsh.
Ms. Terrace and Mr. Walsh continued to embark on trips with Sonny and the viewers until CBS cancelled their reservations on Sunday, February 23, 1958.In 1965, Sonny Fox added to his busy schedule on WNEW TV 5 in NYC by hosting a Saturday evening panel show for teens. Speak Out debuted on WNEW on Saturday night September 11, 1965.
Every week Sonny and the members of his panel would discuss important subjects with special guests like NYS Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
The show was seen Saturday nights for a few months but moved to a Saturday morning timeslot where it remained until it's final Saturday, September 24, 1966 broadcast.
Sonny Fox hosted On Your Mark - ABC-TV's very first Saturday morning show in 1961, a game show that had kids ages nine to thirteen answer questions about different professions. It was a disappointment for the network and lasted only until the end of the year. Fox was also hosting Wonderama at the same time in New York on WNEW.
Sonny Fox became head of Saturday morning television for NBC for one season in 1977.
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