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LA Kid Shows of the SixtiesLocals Only!
:TVparty viewers offer their
memories of the LA locals:

Here are some vague memories of my video baby sitters (LA area circa 1962-66):

Sheriff JohnSheriff John hosted a lunch hour show on KTTV. He opened each show with the snappy tune "Laugh and be Happy (and the world will smile with you)". He had a pleasant baritone voice.

The daily highlights at the sheriff's station included:
- a 'good deputy' checklist that focused on hygiene and manners

- a plug for Maggio brand carrots ("tell your mom to look for the Maggio label")

- letters from the kids at home.

- a serial episode of "Clutch Cargo" -- an action/adventure cliffhanger using cartoon stills with live action human mouths vignetted on the characters faces (created so deaf kids could enjoy cartoons).

- a serial episode of "Diver Dan" -- a live action underwater drama with wooden fish puppets. There was Dan, in a deep sea divers suit and (all too rarely) Minerva the Mermaid, one very sexy fish lady!

Sheriff John- a tribute to all the little deputies at home celebrating a birthday. The sheriff would sing Put Another Candle on My Birthday Cake (now you know where THAT came from), a swinging tune with accordion accompaniment (which kicked ass on "Happy Birthday to You"), while a cake decorated with little plastic cowboys and Indians spun, carousel fashion, in the foreground.

Sheriff JohnSheriff John, as portrayed by John Rovick, was benevolent, low-key and cheerful. A perfect lunch time companion. He is fondly remembered by thousands of late boomers and was recently honored at the 1998 Emmy Awards in a brief segment hosted by Michael Richards (a.k.a. Kramer).

I can't recall what the Magna Carta was all about, but I do remember:

Engineer Bill Engineer Bill (KHJ Channel 9)- a grand fatherly, train drivin', milk drinkin', cartoon showin' guy.

The Pancake Man - a rotund, short-order chef who plugged IHOP and starred Hal Smith, the gent who later played Mayberry's Otis the drunk. "The Pancake Man" was used on an episode of "The Brady Bunch".

Mr. Wishbone - he also worked with the Mudturtle puppets and hosted cartoons on weekdays. On Sundays he read the funny pages aloud -- that was must see TV!

Chuck Jones, the Magic Man - Satin shirt, puffy sleeves, magic trick, cartoon, magic trick, cartoon... He is still a performing magician.

Always sat to close,
- Steve Christian


BONUS RARE LA CHRISTMAS PARADE VIDEO
Thanks to Kevin Butler for this - "The Santa Claus Lane Parade" from November, 1960 with appearances by Los Angeles local TV stars Skipper Frank Herman, Chucko The Clown, Sheriff John Rovick, Don Defore, Patty McCormick, "Bozo" (Vance Colvig), Francis X. Bushman and Soupy Sales.

 


I grew up watching Sheriff John (He gave me a firetruck at a McDonald's appearance in Downey, Ca.) I also religiously watched Hobo Kelly (She called the viewers "mischief makers") and Wonderama with Bob McAllister. But do you or anyone remember Skip and Woofer? They replaced 'Hobo Kelly' on KCOP.

Skip was a guy in his 20s with round glasses and Woofer was his hand puppet dog. They were on sometime in the mid 70's.

Something that is imbedded in my memory was the time that Skip got sick and vomited off camera! (They abruptly cut to a cartoon...ah....live television.) When they made an appearance at Marineland, I helpfully reminded him of that infamous show. Does anyone have any information on the actor who played "Skip"?

- Tony


Beachcomer Bill was broadcast circa 1965 on channel 13, KCOP. He hosted the cartoons Touche Turtle & Dum Dum, Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har, and Wally Gator. He also had puppet versions of these characters which he chatted with. I think Bill was eventually replaced by a Bob Atkins & Feather? (Feather was a collie).

- Albert Navarro

 


I'm trying to find anyone who remembers a TV show from the Los Angeles area from the early 1950's. The show was Little Johnny Jump-up with Mary Holiday. It was a marionette and a live actress ala Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

I even remember the theme song:
"My name is Jump-up,
Little Johnny Jump-up.
Work is always play.
I'm quick as a wink,
And my very best friend is Mary Holiday."

- Randy Sims


I remember Beachcomber Bill very well. The show was broadcast on KCOP Channel 13, and its theme song was the "March of the Baby Elephants". My recollection is that "Bill" had been the host of a kids' show on another channel, and when he moved to the new show he had to find another screen persona.

Why do I remember this? Because I'm gay and I remember having a crush on him, thinking he looked better in his beachcomber outfit than he did in his previous costume - which might have even been street clothes now that I think about, and I think he may have started out as one of these right-before-your-eyes sketcher/drawers that were so common in those days.

I also remember Chuck Jones the magician on Channel 13 - there were two puppets on his show named Micky and Michele Mudturtle. If my memory serves me right, Chuck moved to another station - but Mickey and Michele remained at Channel 13 and hosted their own show.

I remember "Baby Daphne" very well. The woman's first real name was "Patricia". Her surname? Someone else might know.

Baby Daphne actually started off on the Mr. Wishbone Show - she was the one who put on all those animal costumes.

To the person who said that Baby Daphne actually advised his/her little brother to throw a tantrum, I must say that while that specific incident may be true, I do know that my mother was more upset with Baby Daphne's lessons on etiquette.

In these segments, she would very calmly illustrate what the proper form of behavior in a given situation should be. Then, after demonstrating extremely restrained and polite behavior, she'd say "THIS is what you DON'T do" - and then launch into a terribly funny, aggressive and almost Marx-Brothers-ian type of skit (i.e., if there was a stuffed dummy posed as a dowager, Baby Daphne would say "what are you looking at?", and then sock it or wrestle with it).Obviously, the kids remembered all the wrong stuff!!

The one thing that I never understood was her promotion for the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" starring Julie Andrews. When the film was first released, Baby Daphne would break during the show and advertise the film, then show the trailer. Although a family movie, this move was not a film for kids. And there were other films which she never promoted. Why? There must be a good reason but darned if I know.

Also, someone else mentioned a stop-motion animated series that was shown on "Sheriff John" which was made by an eastern European filmmaker named Karel Zamen. Well, Karel Zamen is the same person who made another film that many of us remember from those good old days: "Journey to the Beginning of Time". A great film (for kids, released in 1955), it was chopped into little 5-10 minutes segments that were shown daily in the L.A. area on Channel 9 KHJ on a show called "Big Babysitter".

Anyone remember? "Big Babysitter" had no host, a title shot with a teddy bear, a doll and some building blocks which spelled out the words "BIG BABYSITTER." The show not only had "Journey to the Beginning of Time", but also: "The Mischief Makers" - "Little Rascals" episodes from the silent days, with new voice-over narration by a couple of kids named "Bobby" and "Bunny" "Kiddie Kamera" - a sort of newsreel by, for and about kids "Colonel Bleep" - you know who he is AND - last but not least - all those unconventional UPA cartoons from the 50s, originally made for the "Gerald McBoing Boing Show" (all one-shot, sometimes plotless shorts with titles like "Lion Hunt", "A Quiet Town", "Country Music", etc.) That is the one show I really miss.

- Bob Cruz


In Southern California growing up I remember watching many kids shows on TV. Sheriff John was on in the afternoons wearing his signature CHP-ish outfit with a bright silver star/badge. Everyday he'd have his lunch ready on a TV tray and we'd watch cartoons like Astro Boy together.

Engineer Bill was another biggie. He had a call-in show that you could win really cool toys if you guessed which lever to pull on his caliope-thingy-machine. If you got a super-low whistle sound, you won! He also got kids to drink milk by a game called "red light/green light". You'd have to drink your milk ONLY when he said "green light", not "green grass or green sheets or similar". It was fun and got many (including me) to gulp down glasses of wholesome milk.

I finally got to meet Engineer Bill in person at a supermarket opening in Encino, Ca. and boy, did he ever hate kids! He looked to be just a frustrated old man in a railroad costume that HAD to do this gig to pay the bills. Sad.

I also remember Hobo Kelly. She had a magic toy machine that she would put various bric-a-brac in one end and out the other end would pop out toys and games for kids who wrote in. Her real name was Sally Baker, and she (outside the clown makeup and clothes) was an accomplished singer. Very cool!

- Chris Carnicelli / Simi Valley, Ca.



Do you by any chance remember a fellow on KTTV channel 11 in L.A. named Ben Hunter?

As I recall, he hosted one of those afternoon movie shows in which he would call someone at random, and they'd answer a movie trivia question. I believe he referred to it as Hunter's College of Movie Knowledge, or something like that. I remember he died in 1980, which upset all of us - his show had become a regular ritual for my mom and me (well, for me in the summer--I was in school back then).

If you do remember, is there a chance you might have a page devoted to him eventually?

- Rachel Newstead


Chuck JonesEnjoyed your site! It is so good to remember the "baby-sitters" of my day. Engineer Bill, Baby Daphne, Sheriff John, and Chuck Jones the Magic Man. Chuck Jones, as a small boy lived in the house where I grew up in LA. My mother lived next door as a teenager and "little Chuckie" would come over to visit my grandmother. He would help her set the table for dinner and he would always set a place for his King and Queen.

Later on Chuck Jones' television show, he would have a castle backdrop where his King and Queen lived. When he got his show, he invited us down and my two brothers, my sister and myself were on the show. He picked my brother David to do a bit with him.

This picture was given to us at that time. The date on the back is 10/22/63. We often wonder what happened to him and my mother still fondly remembers him as a small child growing up next-door to her. Thank you for your website. It was a trip!

- Regards, Pam Speakman


I lived next door to Dick Clayton, who was POP and Coach Clayton on Channel 13. He had 3 main puppets, Mickey and Michelle Mudturtle and Boris the bear. He did grocery store openings with a portable stage he made. He was a great guy and inspired me to try and do children shows myself.

I wrote the music and guest starred in two children shows from the 80's. The Rainbow Patch and The Kid-a-littles. These puppet and live action shows aired on NBC in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Gary and Erica Blohm were the creators, producers and writers. We had great guest stars like Mark Hamill, Dick Gautier, Kareem Abdul Jabar and Georgia Engel to name a few.

On The Rainbow Patch there were two guys from OHIO, Willio and Phillio who went on to work at Disney. We won numerous awards and both shows were picked up for additional seasons but events with financing caused us to fade away into TV memories...

Gary Blohm works at UCLA today and I am a computer programmer for Village Inn.

- Len D'Arcy


I can think of three more children's TV shows that came out of Los Angeles. One of the shows was Skipper Frank, a show that incorporated cartoons, games, and special guests. It was hosted by Skipper Frank, who dressed in a pre-Mr. Howell yachting outfit.

Another show was Tom Hatten and Popeye. Tom Hatten, a well-respected performer on television and Broadway, would have children on the show and would entertain them by showing Popeye cartoons, perform cartoon sketches, reminisce about show business and have contests. One of the contests was a squiggle contest. Children would send in a squiggle (a one-line drawing) and Tom would draw a cartoon character from that squiggle.

The third segment I remember from the Sheriff John Show, which later became a late afternoon filler show in the late 50's, was Suzy Sketchbook.

Suzy, (I don't remember her last name) was a handicapped artist (she was practically blind) who had a 15 minute show. This show concentrated on teaching children how to draw. She had a heavy German Accent, and it was difficult with the early television sets to understand her, but she got along well with the children.

- Richard Mantonya


I grew up in Los Angeles in the 60's and I was fortunate enough to appear on several shows that allowed ordinary kids on. I was on Pop's Toy Shop a couple of times, live from Channel 13 with host was Dick Clayton and on the Jack and Phyllis Show, also live on Channel 13 with hosts Jack and Phyllis Spear. I even got to announce the show once!

- Kingsfan


Jim Allen hosted Mr. Wishbone. As best as I can remember, he had someone dress up with various animal heads over their head, most notably a skunk. This show was on KTTV Channel 11 and gave way to Bob McAllister and Wonderama.

Hal Smith portrayed The Pancake Man. This was a show sponsored by IHOP, the International of Pancakes, and seen locally on Channel 9 KHJ. Hal Smith also portrayed Otis on the Andy Griffith show and later was the voice of Whit in the radio series, Adventures In Odyssey, produced by Focus On The Family headed by James Dobson.

When Hal died (and a terrible loss it was) he was eventually replaced on Adventures in Odyssey by his son, who has a voice very similar to that of his dad's.

KHJ had a short lived kids show in the afternoon, called 9-Island. You we're transported to this island by someone dressed in a spacesuit complete with a mask and you watched cartoons. As part of 9-Island, Bill Stulla, who portrayed Engineer Bill, had given up his toy trains to run a soda shop and played bubble gum music like The Archies.

- Bill DeFoi


Does anyone remember the Wonderama clone Grabbag? It was shown in the afternoon after everyone got home from school. It was a locally produced show, and I recall a classmate being on one day.

Or how about Domingo!? It was a show primarily directed at the Hispanic audience. It also was a locally produced show, featuring a kindly old man (who vaguely looked like Wilford Brimley) with marionette puppets. One puppet in particular was a goat who had the habit of noshing on tin cans and getting a bellyache. They would go on adventures to the Calico or to Knott's Berry Farm.

Another show I remember was Dusty's Treehouse. It may have been a local show. It also had marionette puppets. There was Maxine the Crow, Scooter the Squirrel and there was a spider but I forget his name. It was an educational show and would have various guests like policemen or firemen. Or they would show films of candymaking or how a car is built. One show in particular I remember is a film showing drugs confiscated by police.

Dusty's show always had a moral to express and it was one of my favorites when I was growing up.

- Tony Herndon


Reading the webpage on LA kid TV shows. The puppets on Dusty's Treehouse were built and performed by Tony Urbano. Tony later worked for the Krofft's on the Barbara Mandrell Show, as Truck Shackley and the Texas Critters. Currently he does the Snuggles the Bear commercials, and was in charge of the puppeteering for the film "Men In Black."

- Pup8stdo


Fun to find a site like this! I too grew up with this stuff and have some "fond" memories about said programs....

My "fave" was Sally Baker's Hobo Kelly... It was so bizarre! It might interest her fans to know that she was involved some years ago on a project chronicling the Irish Republican Army! Her Irish roots were for real!

One critter you guys missed completely was Bozo the Clown!! Sure, there were zillions of Bozos across the US, but we in LA had one of the best - Vance Colvig, Brother of Pinto Colvig - the original voice of Goofy. I got to meet him at a personal appearance in Pasadena in the early 60's with my dad. He took one look at my father, stopped everything and called him by name! They'd gone to school together.

I remember the interesting Eastern European animation that he'd run alongside the usual Larry Harmon Bozo's...Between Bozo and Tom Hatten, we in LA were treated to some very interesting Eastern bloc animation. Those guys are a major factor in my getting into voice - over and animation.

Sheriff John ran some interesting foreign stuff also. "The Magic Circus", a stop-motion animated series by Karel Zeman, "The Undersea Explorers", an animated series who's origin is still a mystery and "The Space Explorers", a combination of live action and animation with sequences culled from a prewar German sci fi opus.....I could go on.

- Robert Hill


Just thought I'd put in my 2 cents... I remember as a youngster in L.A., a show called "Jack In The Box" sponsored by none other than Jack- in-the-Box Restaurants. It came on either before or after The Pancake Man (which was sponsored by IHOP). The show actually originated from San Diego, but was syndicated in LA.

I also remembered the Billy Barty Show. I don't remember the toons or routines he offered, but he was really good with the kids in the audience. If you are too young to remember him, he played "The Dwarf" in the movie "Foul Play". He was, of course, a real dwarf.

- Ogopogo

Billy Barty, the 3-foot-10 actor whose career included LA local kid show host, died Saturday Dec. 23, 2000 of heart failure. He was 76. Barty had been hospitalized in Glendale for heart problems and a lung infection.


The Captain 5 character on WRAL TV in the early 60's was played by a man named Herb Marx. I remeber him still working for the WRAL TV station after the Captain 5 show ended somewhere around the mid 60's.
- Bruce Smith

 


Perhaps it's awfully silly, a 39-year-old man sitting at his computer listening to recordings of a childrens' television program broadcast more than thirty years ago...but there I was and here I am, with tears still running down my face.

Once I could catch my breath and think, I realized how UTTERLY lucky I was to be a child when childrens' television had nary a scream, snarl or evisceration on it. I wonder--and seriously doubt--if children today could possibly understand or appreciate the low-key approach from years ago.

With deepest thanks,
- Brian E


LA's LOCAL KID SHOWS
Overview of the 50s and 60s / Sheriff John / Romper Room / Chucko, the Birthday Clown / Engineer Bill / Hobo Kelly / Shrimpenstein / Baby Daphne / Skip and Woofer's Last Show / More LA Locals
/ 'Shotgun Tom' Kelly's Words-A-Poppin' / Billy Barty Show / Sacramento's Cap'n Mitch

 

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LA's LOCAL KID SHOWS
Overview of the 50s and 60s / Sheriff John / Romper Room / Chucko, the Birthday Clown / Engineer Bill / Hobo Kelly / Shrimpenstein / Baby Daphne / Skip and Woofer's Last Show / More LA Locals
/ 'Shotgun Tom' Kelly's Words-A-Poppin' / Billy Barty Show / Sacramento's Cap'n Mitch

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