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Looney Tunes on TV : Merrie Melodies on YTV in NYC

50 Years of Merrie Melodies
and Looney Tunes on Television

Looney TunesCHANNEL 5
VERSIONS

WABD TV Channel 5 became the first NYC based kid's show to air reruns of Warner Bros "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" movie cartoons. "The Looney Tunes Show" debuted on channel 5 at the beginning of January, 1955.

Cartoonist and storyteller Bob Bean served as the show's first host. Mr. Bean engaged his viewers in stories, craftmaking, hobbies, drawing lessons, informational segments and interviews with guest performers between the cartoons. Mr. Bean exited the production on Monday, April 11, 1955.

Sandy Becker ShowSandy Becker (left and below) became the second host of "The Looney Tunes Show" and Channel 5's most enduring kid's TV MC. Mr. Becker indulged his viewers with drawing lessons, craftmaking, hobbies, informative segments and interviews with in-studio guests. He also performed puppet skits and shared visits with "Uncle Mike," an animal trainer from Long Island.

Sandy BeckerSandy hosted the "Looney Tunes Show" until Tuesday, July 8, 1958 when WABD moved the show from weekday evenings to Saturday evenings beginning July 5, 1958; at that point, Herb Sheldon took over to finish out the summer. He left the show on August 2, 1958.

Bill Britten (left) became the fourth and last host/performer of Channel 5's "Looney Tunes Show", from Saturday, August 9, 1958 until Saturday, August 30, 1958.

WABD/WNEW would also broadcast the very first prime time "Looney Tunes" cartoon show. Long before the ABC network began screening Bugs, Daffy, Porky and Roadrunner on "The Bugs Bunny Show," Channel 5 in NYC aired "The Bugs Bunny Theater" Friday nights beginning September 14, 1956. Sandy Becker served as the series first host until he stepped down on Friday, September 6, 1957.

WABD expanded the show again to a weekday evening format starting on Monday, June 30, 1958 when Herb Sheldon took over the hosting duties. It was during Sheldon's tenure that the series' title changed to "Bugs Bunny Presents," the series ran from Monday, June 30, 1958 until Friday, August 1, 1958.

Bill Britten became the third host of "Bugs Bunny Presents" on Monday August 4, 1958 until the show's final broadcast on Wednesday, January 28, 1959; this was during Channel 5's last days as a part of the Dumount Network.

"Uncle Fred" Scott (left) was the fourth and last host of "Bugs Bunny Presents" from Monday, February 2, 1959 until Friday, May 2, 1959.

On Monday May 25, 1959, the show's title was changed one more time - to "Nuts & Bugs." Weekday evenings from Monday, May 25, 1959 until Thursday, August 13, 1959, Uncle Fred Scott captivated his viewers with craftmaking, stories, informational segments, contests and interviews with guests between Bugs Bunny cartoons and the Edgar Kennedy, Leon Errol and Charley Chase movie comedies.

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons were also screened on Cartoon Playtime weekday afternons on WNEW from Monday June 30, 1958 until Friday January 29,1965. Channel 5's resident announcers Uncle Fred Scott, Uncle Tom Gregory , Uncle Ed Ladd and Fred Hall were the show's MC's.

Bob McAllisterThe films were also screened on The Sandy Becker Show / Sandy's Hour weekday evenings and afternoons on Channel 5 and on the Sonny Fox/Bob McAllister (seen right) versions of Wonderama, Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons during the 1960's and '70's.

 

CHANNEL 9
VERSIONS

There was another "Looney Tunes Show"on WOR Channel 9, that broadcast the pre-1938 Looney Tunes cartoons on weekday evenings beginning Monday, September 15, 1958.

Ginger MacManus, formerly Sonny Fox' young traveling companion on CBS TV's Let's Take A Trip (seen right) was the show's first host/performer.

Set against the backdrop of an enchanted cottage in the forest, Ms. MacManus charmed visitors to her cottage (her viewers) in stories, games, crafts, educational segments and interviews with guest performers between the cartoons.

Ms. MacManus left the show on Friday, January 9, 1959. Paul Tripp (formerly CBS TV's pioneering kid's educator Mr. I. Magination, seen right) became the second host on Monday evening, January 12, 1959. Between the shorts, Paul Tripp engaged visitors to 'The Looney Tunes Cottage' in songs, stories, games, magic tricks, craftmaking, hobbies, informational segments and guest interviews.

He may not have cared much for the Looney Tunes cartoons as Mr. Tripp left the show just six months later, on Friday evening, July 10, 1959.

WOR moved "The Looney Tunes Show" to a weekday morning timeslot on Monday, September 14, 1959. Herb Sheldon (who, if you remember, served as the second host of Channel 5's "Looney Tunes Show") became the MC for WOR's version, now retitled "The Herb Sheldon Show."

Herb hosted the broadcast until Friday, May 18, 1962.

Channel 9 moved the show's timeslot one more time, to the weekday afternoon schedule.

Jazz bandleader, songwriter and entertainer Greg ("Chubby") Jackson became the show's fourth and last host/performer. Set against the backdrop of his clubhouse, the show was seen weekday afternoons starting Monday, January 12, 1962.

Chubby performed comedy skits and musical numbers (with his talking bass fiddle puppet Casey) and introduced young performers on his show. The station execs at WOR forced him to do little more than perform short bits and intro the cartoons for three to four minute taped segments - and then pre-tape all of the commercials- all in one afternoon.

This continued for the 1961-62 season. Chubby tried to prevent the station management from sabotaging his show, but WOR execs forced the talented performer to adhere to their strict taping schedule.

Fed up with interference from station management, Chubby Jackson left the series on Friday, June 14, 1963.

With the departure of Chubby Jackson, WOR dropped "The Looney Tunes Show" from its weekday afternoon schedule.

"Looney Tunes" movie cartoons did not reappear on Channel 9's airways until Sunday, February 7, 1988 when WWOR began broadcasting "Steampipe Alley" with Mario Cantone from their new television studio in Seacauscus, New Jersey.

Mario Cantone

 

 

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UNCLE FRED SCOTT
"I grew up in Bergenfield and I remember my mother taking me to a bake sale at St. Mary's Church in Dumont, NJ. to see Uncle Fred Scott. I don't remember the year - but I had to be 4 or 5 years old - and the fact that I still remember it shows you what an impression it made! I still have the autograph tucked away in am autograph book!

"I also remember meeting Paul Tripp at a movie theater in Paramus, NJ. It was a showing of his Christmas film (the name escapes me). I remember that he came to the front of the theater and said a few words to the crowd before they started the film. As the film was starting, my mother pulled me from my seat and we went into the lobby so I could get another autograph and meet another of my early heroes! Thanks Mom!

"There was another show, a little before my time, hosted by Ed McCurdy - Freddy the Fireman. Anyone remember? I got to know Ed in his later years. He passed away in March 2000 at the age of 81. We miss you, Ed!"

- Ron


"I have one memory to add about Uncle Fred Scott, who was, as Bill Newcott describes, a "cartoon anchorman" -- not much personality, very straight, but seemed like a heck of a nice guy.

"Anyway, one evening Uncle Fred was doing a routine Bosco chocolate syrup commercial -- it could also easily have been Cocoa Marsh -- but anyway, Uncle Fred, extolling the deliciousness of the product, raised his tall glass of chocolate milk, took a BIG sip, and proceeded to spit, gag, cough, and pound the desk for about half a minute until he could regain control of himself. He finally managed to croak out, "gooood" and mercifully I think they went to a cartoon.

"I'll never know what on earth happened, but I assume Uncle Fred took a giant hit of very sour chocolate milk and was desperately trying not to toss up the sponsors product on live TV!"

- Howard

 

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