The Kiddie Scene
with Mr. Green
"Thanks a lot Old Rebel"... some are too excited to say it. "Thanks" is there, though, in the glowing eyes of thousands of kids every year when they get that treasured autograph and that "Hello there, Joey" from their favorite friends, the Old Rebel and Pecos Pete of WFMY-TV. ("Troubles" sometimes licks a hand or two for her public).
When these three come to town, in this area of 466,640 TV homes, everyone from Gram'pa on down turns out for the festivities, foolishness and fun. In High Point, Haw River, Topnot - throughout the nation's 44th TV market - they're local institutions. "Why it wouldn't be a parade without the Old Rebel and Pecos Pete." Part of their ability to delight audiences comes from their deep and genuine affection for children - and the feeling is mutual.
- Press release from 1956
The Old Rebel Show was a work of love for my dad, and plenty of fun too! One of the nation's leading children's shows, airing in Greensboro, North Carolina's WFMY-TV, the main philosophy was to "entertain, enlighten, and educate" the whole family: from the babies to the kiddies to the teens, Dad and Mom, and Gramps and Grandma too.
My father was a native of Statesville, survived bullets, bombs and fire during World War II's Battle of the Bulge, and after the war toured Europe with an acting troupe. When he returned to North Carolina, he was an announcer in the Statesville and Asheboro radio markets before being hired by WFMY in 1950. He was a commercial announcer, part-time weatherman, built sets, served as cameraman, and film engineer among other duties until he took over as the Old Rebel.
The Old Rebel Show was a showcase for funny skits and fine variety entertainment. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters appeared on the "magic moving playhouse" bleachers and scores celebrated their birthdays in the studios. National entertainers, including Captain Kangaroo, Dennis Weaver, Gene Autry, Andy Griffith, William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd were special guests.
Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper were earl sponsors, and drinks were wheeled into the studio by the crateful atop shopping carts to give to he kids in the audience. My mother also joined in the festivities by cooking dozens of Curtis Hot Dogs and serving them on delicious Holsum Bread rolls.
Many people don't know that my father carved the puppets that were used on the show himself.
- Timm Perry, The Old Rebel's Son
Some people might think of 'The Old Rebel Show' as a local imitation of the 'Captain Kangaroo' show. In fact, The Old Rebel was on the air for years before the good Captain ever came along, and remained on the air longer than almost any other local children's show host - an astonishing 27 years. It's amazing that today, people in their thirties and people in their sixties can remember being on the show.
The show began in 1950 as Six-Gun Playhouse with George Perry introducing clown acts, western serials and black-and-white cartoons. A year later, Perry donned a black top hat, frock coat and old-fashioned bow-tie to become 'The Old Rebel'.
In the early days of The Old Rebel Show, George Perry still wore his cowboy duds, a hold-over from the Six-gun Playhouse' concept. Practically every 'all-American' kid growing up in the Fifties and early Sixties played 'cowboys and indians', with a holster and gun on his hips and a half-gallon hat on his head.
In this spirit, Pecos Pete (Jim Tucker), a very friendly cowboy character joined the Old Rebel in 1953 and the show became known as 'The Old Rebel and Pecos Pete Show' - for over a decade, the names were linked together like Laurel and Hardy. Joining them on the show were Troubles the dog and Cathy the chimp. Having a monkey as a regular on the show was not that unusual in the Fifties - in fact the 'Today Show' on NBC had a simian co-host named J. Fred Muggs from 1953-1957.
With Tucker playing the cowboy role, George Perry adopted the look you see in this photo from the late-fifties - the quintessential old southern gentleman outfit.
Born in 1948, I can just barely remember NOT having television around. I do remember getting up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and sitting in front of a very small television screen and watching the old Indian Head Test Pattern just sit there. I would even try to match the pitch tone (whooooooo) as long as my breath would hold out.
I don't remember the first time I saw the Old Rebel show, it just seemed like it was on for as long as I can remember. We watched it everyday it seems. l do remember the first time I went to the station to be on the show - I was in the 3rd grade and our class went to the show and we danced the "Mexican Hat Dance". I guess we must have been studying this in school or something.
Jim Wiglesworth, Co-host Old Rebel Show, 1968-1977
'The Old Rebel Show' for possible inclusion on the site!
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