CBS All-American Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 26, 2011 marks the 52th anniversary of the network TV debut of the CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade Jubilees. On that date half a century ago the network execs at CBS and producer Mike Gargugilo broadcast four different parades from four different locales.
Featured on that first broadcast: The Gimbel's Thanksgiving Day Parade from Philadelphia; The J. L. Hudson Parade from Detroit; The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from NYC; and The Eaton's Santa Claus Parade from Toronto, Canada. (Eaton's Parade was always pre-taped in advance for later broadcast).
The first main MCs for the parade's early telecasts were Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Lumpy Brannum) Gus (Cosmo) Allegretti's puppets Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. The group would view the parades via a giant TV monitor which The Captain called "The Magic Picture Window Screen."
On the last broadcast of the parades that he would MC in November of 1965, Captain Kangaroo's co-host was ventriloquist and entertainer Shari Lewis.
(The Detroit-based commentators were Dallas Townsend and Bob Murphy in 1962.)
The other main hosts for the later parade telecasts were Peter Graves (who was just beginning his stint as Jim Phelps on "Mission Impossible"); Bob Barker; Kukla, Fran (Allison) and Ollie with The Kuklapolitan Player Puppets, The Bil Baird Puppets, William Conrad and Larry Hagman.
With the exception of Kuklapolitans, Mr. Barker and The Bil Baird Puppets, the other main hosts / narrators worked against the backdrop of a living room in a private house. This was done to give the viewers at home the feeling that they were sharing their holidays with warm and caring friends.
Many well-known performers and personalities served as the on location commentators for the parade broadcasts: CBS TV newsmen Jack Whitaker and Gene Crane (who also hosted two CBS kid's talent shows in the 1950s - "Grand Chance Round Up" and "M&M Candy Carnival"/"Contest Carnival"), Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day At A Time"), Danielle Brisebois ("All In The Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place"), Sorrell Booke ("The Dukes Of Hazard"), The Hudson Brothers, Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley, and Kevin Frasier ("Kojak") commented on The Gimbel's Thanksgiving Day Parades from Philly.
Esther Rolle & John Amos ("Good Times"), Linda Lavin ("Alice"), Ned Beatty, and Captain Kangaroo (Mr. Keeshan) and Kathy Garver ("Family Affair") commented on the J. L. Hudson Parades; Bob Barker and Rob Reiner commented on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades" from NYC and Michael Lerned , Art & Jack Linkletter and Bob Denver, Herschel Bernardi, Jim Backus ("Gilligan's Island") commented on the Eaton's Santa Claus Parades from Toronto.
When the Eaton's Santa Claus Parades were dropped from the broadcasts, CBS TV acquired the rights to telecast "The Hawaiian Floral Parades" from the city of Honolulu. Loretta Swit ("M*A*S*H") and Gregory Harrison ("Trapper John, MD") hosted one parade telecast with the intros pre-filmed by actor Jack Lord (who was still playing Police Lt. Steve McGarrett on "Hawaii Five O").
Many well known performers and personalities served as The Grand Marshals for The J. l. Hudson, Gimbel's and Macy's Parades - actor Van Williams (ABC/20 Century Fox TV's "Green Hornet") and children's book author and artist Teddy Geisel ("Dr. Seuss) appeared in The J. l. Hudson Parades; American Bandstand's Dick Clark, actress and singer Andrea McArdell (who was appearing on Broadway as "Annie"), musician and television MC Ted Mack (the second host of CBS TV's "Original Amateur Hour") and Captain Kangaroo were the Grand Marshals for The Gimbels Parades; Captain Kangaroo was the Grand Marshall for The Macy's Parade.
The late Soupy Sales appeared in The Macy's Parades in NYC in November,1964, November,1965 and again in November,1966.
'Captain Bob' Cottle (the second and last host/performer and instructor of NBC TV's and Hanna/Barbera's "Ruff & Reddy Show"), Gene London (who played "Tinker Tom The Toymaker" on WJZ/WABC 7's "Tinker's Workshop"), Shari Lewis, and Herb Sheldon (the MC of many popular NYC based kid's TV shows) played a lion tamer in the NYC Macy's Parades.
Gene London and Mark Ritts' puppet Flam Flamingo (both appearing on Mr. London's last kid's show "The Gene London Show" on WCAU TV 10 in Philly) appeared on the Gimbel's Parade from The City Of Brotherly Love. Gene London also appeared as Tinker Tom the Toymaker at the NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade back in the late-1950s.
CBS TV even broadcast "The Mummers Parade" one year.
Eventually, the Gimbel's, J. L. Hudson and Hawaiian Floral Parades were dropped and CBS began broadcasting the NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in its entirety with the hosts/interviewers of "The CBS TV Early Show" serving as the commentators.
BONUS RARE PARADE VIDEO
MOMENTS FROM THANKSGIVINGS PAST : THE 1970s
In 1972 ABC aired it's Saturday morning shows on Thanksgiving
Promo for NBC's 1977 broadcast of the Thanksgiving Day festivities.
WDIV 1978 Hudson's Thanksgiving Day Santa Parade from Detroit
More from that parade in Detroit.
1980 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade opening.
Here's a Thanksgiving Day Parade moment from the past -
CBS All-American Thanksgiving
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