The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Your DC Children's TV Show Host Round-Up

Though I was born in Baltimore, I grew up in and around DC. And one of the things that struck me as a child about the Capital of the Free World was the number and complexity of local TV kid's shows. These are the ones I remember best, though I'm sure I'm leaving some off the list (hello, Pick Temple).

The local TV newsman/broadcasting-personality who puts on a silly costume and stands in front of a cardboard set to introduce ancient cartoons and Three Stooges shorts is something kids today just don't have access to and I think they're the poorer for it. These shows were central to our daily routine and the local stations put a lot of love and work into them. Well, some. When you only have six or so channels available on your TV then each one has a more distinict personality, and these shows were a large part of it.

When I was about seven I got to be on Ranger Hal (I was wearing a kilt; long story) and, instantly if briefly, my status in the neighborhood shot up. I remember one kid asking me if I got to meet Felix the Cat, whose cartoons were a fixture on Ranger Hal, and I had to let him down gently as to Felix the Cat's incorporeality. I don't think he believed me.

And I think appearing on these shows probably did the TV newsman/broadcasting-persornality a lot of good too. If someone like say, I don't know, Bill O'Reilly had a half-dozen seasons in a clown wig and giant bowtie back early in his career he might be more grounded today.


nolanart said...

Seven year old in a kilt, you say? That explains a lot.

ha. ha.

Down here in Greensboro, North Carolina, we had "The Old Rebel Show". Draw your own conclusions.

David Hagen said...

Hi Richard! Great memories. I got to meet Captain Kangaroo a few years before he died and he was lovely.
I believe Willard Scott was DC's Bozo when my sister and I went on the show. During the show he would ask you your name and age and if you'd like to squeek his big red nose. Of course, instead of squeeking his nose, I punched it, which got me pulled to the back of the studio rather quickly. This left my four year old sister to fend for herself and I don't think she had been paying attention because when she looked up and saw this huge red-wigged clown sitting next to her, she started screaming hysterically and also had to be physically dragged off the set.

David Windhorst said...

Your fleshy-Felix seeker wasn't alone. During my childhood in Chicago, where you could hardly shake a tree and not have a local kidshow host fall out (along with the corpse of somebody Mayor Daley'd had killed), I was in a Bozo audience one kindergarten day, and was quite disappointed in not getting to see the cartoons live in the studio.

Unknown said...

i've always been curious- do the kids in the audience get to watch the cartoons at all? are they projected? was there a big old vcr?

Cedar said...

A google search does not reveal the answer to the bonus question. All I can get is that Bozo replied to the kid with, "That's a Bozo no-no," but not the curse in question.

Amusingly, when one does a google search for the phrases "obscenity bozo the clown 'live show'" ones of the first results is the NYTimes obit of Jesse Helms.

richardcthompson said...

Nolan, it's a long story....

David, that's a great and inspiring story. You did the necessary thing, I think, and I hope your sister has since calmed down.

David W & Felix, I kinda remember you could hear the cartoon but not see it. Maybe it was on a monitor somewhere. I think they used that time to pass out treats to the kids, like food from the sponsor or something.

Cedar, here's the story as it was told to me by more than one source; kids from the old live Bozo Show audience were up onstage playing a game, I think it was tossinsg pingpong balls into a bucket. One little kid kept missing and said, Aw sh-t, and his comment made it on air. Bozo took him by the shoulder and said (as you found), That's a Bozo no-no. The kid said, Cram it, Clownie. The kid was escorted off-stage and maybe off-set. I hope it's true.

randy said...

Hey, Richard - I love your attention to detail in that all the tuner knobs are on different channels. I assume they're accurate!

I loved watching "Buckskin Bill" when we visited my grandmother in Baton Rouge. He showed wonderful Little Rascals shorts, which we didn't get in Denver. At home we had "Blinky the Clown." When I was just out of high school, Blinky entertained at the grand opening of the shopping center where I had a summer job. He used our back office to take a smoke break, and I've been emotionally scarred ever since.

Ponto said...

Wot! No Pick Temple?! Very hurtful to us old Giant Rangers... Who can forget the "Heidi Bread Song", theme of the Rangers:

My favorite bread's Heidi,
I hope it's your's, too -
It tastes so delicious,
And it's so good for you.

So let's all eat Heidi,
And before very long,
All Giant Rangers,
Will grow big and strong.

To be sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky. A moving performance of the song is available on Youtube.

odessasteps said...

Was Captain Chesapeake only on channel 45 in bawmur?

I'm surprised he wasn't also on in washington, just like it's academic.