To celebrate almost sixty years of Romper Room, Robert Forester shares with us his collection of ultra-rare merchandise, memorabilia and unseen video clips from around the country.
Sadly, almost no footage of Romper Room programs exist today, despite the fact that the show was broadcast weekdays for decades in every television market in the country.
There was a syndicated version of the program, but most people grew up with locally produced Romper Rooms that were nearly identical in every way.
::RARE VIDEO CLIPS::
The quality is not great -
video from Romper Room
is extremely rare and this is all we have!
The Opening - Kids who grew up with Romper Room in Baltimore got it unadulterated.
Romper Room had its origins in Baltimore, on station WBAL back in 1953. Miss Nancy (Claster) was not only the local Baltimore hostess, she was the nationally syndicated Romper Room hostess as well. A pioneering educator, Claster created the program and trained all of the other Romper Room teachers from around the nation.
The program invariably opened with a phrase the RR ladies made famous, "Pop goes the weasel, and the Jack-in-the-box jumps out of his house, and that means it's time for the Romper Room school."
The Closing - Watch as Miss Nancy peers into her Magic Mirror and names off the kids she 'sees' in the home audience. Oddly, this Magic Mirror is a more high-tech version than the one seen in later years; every local Romper Room hostess ended the program this same way.
When Miss Nancy retired in 1964, her daughter Miss Sally took over as the national hostess.
Short Promo - Romper Room began locally in Chicago in August of 1955.
Though this is not a clip from a RR episode, it gives you some idea of what the Windy City's Romper Room hostess was like in the early days of television.
At right is a picture of Chicago's Romper Room teacher from 1964, Miss Beverly (Marston). The Romper ladies loved those helmet hairdos in the go-go era.
The Opening - No, that's not Peggy Noonan with the Romper Room kids, though that's an interesting concept.
Miss Bonnie is shown with the youngsters galloping with stick horses, a regular feature meant to promote physical fitness and coordination.
Of all the Romper Room hostesses around the country, Spokane Washington's Miss Florence had to be one of the most successful and well-loved.
After all, she had the job for almost twenty years. This was somewhat unusual - most communities that broadcast their own version of Romper Room replaced the hostesses every few years.
The Opening - Here we see the color Romper Room opening that was used around the country in the 1970s. In this clip, the kids are bouncing balls to bizarre electronic tones thanks to "Mr. Music" (the offstage DJ).
In the closing, Miss Barbara wraps it up with the Magic Mirror sequence. Gone are the rotating lights Miss Nancy was sporting ten years earlier, now the Magic Mirror is merely an empty frame. The better to see you with!
A few grown adults have written to TVparty to tell us they were traumatized as children by the Magic Mirror on Romper Room either disappointed that their name was never called or appalled that this woman could see into their living rooms!
Do Bee Dance - Are you a Do Bee or a Don't Bee? Here we get to see Do Bee him(her?)self making an appearance to teach the kids about money.
Program ending - "Romper Stomper Bomper Boo, Tell me tell me tell me do, Magic Mirror tell me today, Did all my friends have fun at play?" A Magic Mirror closing for all you kids who grew up in Evansville and never heard your name. This is your last chance!
From Dr. Herschel Knapp comes this amazing footage shot on the set of Romper Room in L.A. in 1968.
The film was shot by his father, Jay J. Knapp on the occasion of his daughter Debbie's appearance on the show (she's seen at right in the green dress).
Romper Room was hosted in 1968 on KCOP channel 13 by Miss Mary Ann (King) who had the role from 1966 until 1975.
Footage from any Romper Room episode is rare, but these behind the scenes shots are super-rare. The film was shot with a Super 8mm camera (with no sound, naturally) and offers us a glimpse into the inner workings of the show.
Dr. Knapp tells us, "After the show, Ms. Mary Ann was truly charming; she posed for pictures and was gracious and patient with the children and all family members."
This may be the ONLY surviving footage from the KCOP version of the show. In it, we get to see the director and stage hands as they produce the live episode, along with Miss Mary Ann doing commercials.
Sign of our times: sadly, Miss Mary Ann was assaulted and robbed in a parking lot in the City of Industry on December 17, 2003.
The thieves made off with nothing less than the Magic Mirror itself! The seriousness of this crime notwithstanding, what chaos can we expect now that crooks are in control of the magic mirror? The ability to see into anyone's home at will is something every criminal dreams of.
The former Romper Room hostess feared the mirror was lost forever - "I'm sure those hoodlums who did this just looked at the mirror and said, 'What in the world is this,' and just discarded it," King told the LA Times. (She wasn't seriously injured.)
Miss Mary Ann carried the Magic Mirror with her because so many former viewers walked up to her and said, "You never called out my name!" With the prop on hand, she could whip out the Magic Mirror and make their dream come true on the spot. King was president of the Puente Hills Area Chamber of Commerce at the time.
This film is a bit longer than 8 minutes, there is no sound.
THE FILM NOW
THE FILM NOW
/ KCOP Los Angeles
Short Clip - This clip is from an interview in the nineties, where we get a brief look at this wonderful television personality.
Here's what Ms. Serrano told TVparty:
"I was the Romper Room teacher in L.A. from 1975 to 1989 on KCOP-TV. I was called Ms. Soco and I absolutely loved doing the show. Parents called or wrote in to get their kids on and I scheduled three boys and three girls for each week.
"I made sure that the kids were between 4 and 5 years old. Younger kids could not keep up with the other children and six year olds acted too cool by then. I also made sure that we had a good ethnic mix, since this was LA after all.
"Even after 12 years off the air, I still get recognized by my Romper Room graduates -- as I call them. They are now in their late twenties or early thirties. It's really wonderful when this happens because it means that I was a part of their lives and I may not have changed all that much.
thanks for your website. It's been fun."
Here's video of Miss Soco.
1981 / New York, NY & syndicated
Miss Molly McCloskey
The Opening - GenXers fondly remember Miss Molly. She was the nationwide hostess when the local franchises were ending their runs as TV stations largely abandoned local children's programming in the late-1970s. Here's what Miss Molly told TVparty:
"My name is Molly McCloskey Barber and I was the hostess of Romper Room after Miss Mary Ann in NY.
"In 1981 I traveled to Baltimore to replace Miss Sally on the syndicated version of Romper Room. The name was changed to Romper Room and Friends. We taped 100 episodes and they ran in syndication until 1992. I then moved to NY and hosted Romper Room and Friends from 1982 until we out of production in 1987 on WOR which then became WWOR.
"They were wonderful years and I really enjoyed being Miss Molly. Have a great day. "
- Miss Molly
All of these women have one thing in common - they touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, spanning several generations.
They were cutting edge broadcasters and educators and deserve to be congratulated for their hard work.
Thanks to collectors like Robert Forester, who contributed video for this feature, we can look back on their unique programs.
Keep this in mind - in markets where Romper Room wasn't broadcast live, it was routine to erase each day's program to tape the next day's episode.
So the chance that there is a video tape of your golden moment on Romper Room is slim to none. Sorry!
here, the Romper Room hostess Miss Joan from
::Romper Room in Pittsburgh, Pa::
This was in April of 1970, on WTAE-TV, channel 4.
Miss Jan (Bohna) passed away in 2005. I am the shy one with my head down. Still like that today...
- Ken Matyonosky
:: Romper Room in Tulsa, OK::
Mike Ransom writes: On my Romper
Room page, I have a 1956 Life magazine article about the
Tulsa host, Miss Nancy. Nate Wilcox said:
"In one segment she was showing pictures the children had drawn and making comments about them. She had thumb tacked them to a cork board. On one picture she pointed out what a nice sun the child had drawn. The director cut to a close-up and it was a yellow thumbtack that she had used to put up the picture. We had huge cue cards we would use so she could see them from a distance. Contact lenses were not so common in those days but they would have dramatically helped her performance."
:: Romper Room in Charlotte, NC ::
replaced Miss Jody,
This clip from You Tube looks like a Australian version of Romper Room.
a pix of me on Romper Room circa 1961-62 on
the original KTLA in Los Angeles. I believe the teacher’s name
was Rose Marie (or something like that).
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