January 30, 2020

FRED SILVERMAN DEAD AT 82



You can find the full story here.


Along with having worked as an executive for all three major networks, Silverman played a large role in the growth of Saturday morning television when he was put in charge of revitalizing CBS’ morning line-ups. He also helped usher along the creation of Scooby-Doo (for which the character of Fred was named after him). After becoming an independent producer in 1981, he created the shows Pandamonium and Meatballs and Spaghetti and produced The Mighty Orbots and Piggsburg Pigs!

January 28, 2020

JACK BURNS DEAD AT 86



You can read the full story here.


As a writer, he wrote an episode of The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine. As an actor, he played a police officer and bank president in an episode of Darkwing Duck and Sid the Squid in episodes of Animaniacs, and also provided additional voices to Mother Goose and Grimm. 



January 25, 2020

CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT


CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT
(CBS, September 4, 1954-January 21, 1956)

Screen Gems





MAIN CAST:
Richard Webb – Captain Midnight
Sid Melton – Ichabod “Icky” Mudd
Olan Soule – Dr. Aristotle “Tut” Jones


            The Skelly Oil Company was looking for a follow-up to its successful radio adventure show, The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen, and turned to that show’s creators, Wilfred G. Moore and Robert M. Burtt, to duplicate that success.

Ad for the radio show.


            Captain Midnight debuted on October 7, 1938 as a syndicated radio show broadcast to a few Midwest stations. Captain Midnight was a former World War I U.S. Army pilot named Captain Jim “Red” Albright until a general who sent him on a dangerous mission gave him his codename when he returned at the stroke of 12. After the war, he became a private pilot that helped people in trouble. However, when Ovaltine took over sponsorship of the program in 1940, Albright became the head of the Secret Squadron: an air-based paramilitary organization battling sabotage and espionage against the country. When the United States entered World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Secret Squadron joined in the battle against the Axis Powers. Most notably, the female members of the Squadron were treated as equals and were often involved in heavy combat missions. Captain Midnight was portrayed by Ed Prentiss, Bill Bouchey and Paul Barnes over the course of the show.

Ad for the movie serial.

            With Ovaltine’s sponsorship came a move to the Mutual Radio Network, where Captain Midnight enjoyed a national audience and allowed it to gain a regular audience number in the millions. The show ran until December of 1949, and in that time inspired a newspaper comic strip, a book and comic books published by Dell Comics and Fawcett Comics. In 1942, Columbia Pictures produced a 15-chapter spin-off serial starring Dave O’Brien. While some of the characters from the radio show were used, the serial took some liberties with the source material. Captain Midnight became a masked secret identity for Albright and the Secret Squadron element was removed from the story. The serial was later brought to television in 1953 through early 1954 as Captain Midnight’s Adventure Theatre.

The Silver Dart takes flight.

            At the same time, Columbia’s television arm, Screen Gems, was working on adapting Captain Midnight for television as an ongoing show. Once again, some liberties were taken with the source material as Captain Midnight (Richard Webb, an actual veteran who got the role despite being older than what they were looking for) became a veteran of the Korean War. Although the Secret Squadron was in place this time, the only other established character was chief mechanic Ichabod “Icky” Mudd (Sid Melton), who served as the show’s comic relief. Joining them was scientist Dr. Aristotle “Tut” Jones (Olan Soule, who played Agent Kelly, SS-11 on the radio show). The Squadron was a private group often asked to deal with enemy agents, rogue scientists, investigate sabotage and, in general, protect the country from the forces of evil. Despite the science fiction elements present in the show such as robot bombs and space stations, Midnight was the only action hero on TV at the time to not venture out into space, sticking to the skies and the Earth’s orbit in his Silver Dart; the experimental Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket which had both a jet engine and a rocket engine.

Ikky, Captain Midnight and Tut in the middle of a mystery.

            Captain Midnight debuted on CBS on September 4, 1954, still sponsored by Ovaltine as well as Kix Cereal from General Mills. The series’ theme was composed by Don A. Ferris and Irving Friedman. Each episode was produced on a paltry budget of $2,100 so a lot of the special effects by the Dallons brothers (Franz, Oscar and Paul, who all also worked on Space Patrol) were more optical illusions. For instance, the Silver Dart was usually depicted via a model on a string filmed on an angle to make it look larger or stock footage of the actual ship. Wallace Bosco, Wells Root, Malcolm Stuart Boylan, DeVallon Scott, George Bricker, Anthony O. Scott, William Lively, Robert Leslie Bellem, Richard Morgan, Milton Raison, Dane Slade, Roy Erwin, Tom Kilpatrick, Ted Thomas, Peter Dixon, Lee Erwin, Roy Hamilton and John O’Dea served as the show’s writers. Although it began as a Saturday morning show, ABC took notice of its large adult audience and acquired it and ran it in prime time to compete against CBS’ Burns and Allen Show.



            Ovaltine included an offer in their products for a membership kit that included a decoder badge that would allow viewers to transcribe a secret message given to them each episode. However, they continually only saw a marginal and temporary increase in their sales as a lot of people would merely steal the wax seal from the Ovaltine jar that they needed to send in. At a public appearance, Webb asked those in attendance what their favorite breakfast drink was, and received the overwhelmingly resounding reply of “Bosco!” Since Ovaltine saw Captain Midnight as just a marketing tool to move their product, they pulled their sponsorship and ended production of the show after just two seasons, despite its popularity.

Original VHS release.

            When the show entered into syndicated reruns in 1958, a problem arose. The Wander Company, the parent company of Ovaltine, owned the rights to the Captain Midnight name. As a result, Screen Gems was forced to change the name of the series to Jet Jackson, Flying Commando for both the title and in every instance the name was said. Screen Gems to attempted to purchase the rights from The Wander Company using Webb as a mediator, but they wanted to hold onto the series for future use. Depending on the source, the original Captain Midnight is either still on a shelf somewhere, or the prints had long been destroyed. Parade Video released a VHS collection of two episodes, which Rhino Video later re-released as Captain Midnight Flies Again along with a second VHS collection containing two episodes. All four episodes were from the second season.



EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Murder by Radiation” (9/4/54) – Captain Midnight has to recover a radioactive element from foreign agents.

“Electronic Killer” (9/11/54) – Enemy agents kidnap Captain Midnight’s friend in order to get the secrets of his new guided missile.

“Deadly Diamonds” (9/18/54) – The Secret Squadron is sent to track down a dangerous group of diamond smugglers with the help of one of Tut’s inventions.

“The Lost Moon” (9/25/54) – Captain Midnight has to discover the secret of a lost moon orbiting Earth before enemy agents get their first and take control of the planet.

“Death Below Zero” (10/2/54) – The investigation of the poisoning of a dog belonging to a member of the Squadron leads Captain Midnight to be locked into a cold storage locker.

“Operation Failure” (10/9/54) – Captain Midnight goes behind the Iron Curtain to rescue a freedom fighter.

“Trapped Behind Bars” (10/16/54) – An investigation into prison riots leads Captain Midnight and Ikky going undercover as prisoners.

“Counterfeit Millions” (10/23/54) – Captain Midnight discovers the method in which counterfeit money is entering the country.

“The Walking Ghost” (10/30/54) – A Squadron agent comes to Captain Midnight for help in exorcising a ghost from a Southern mansion.

“Secret of the Jungle” (11/6/54) – An African vacation becomes a mystery to find a stolen idol.

“Sabotage Under the Sea” (11/13/54) – Captain Midnight engages an enemy submarine to find an experimental missile that disappeared.

“Isle of Mystery” (11/20/54) – Captain Midnight and Ikky are sent to investigate why the small island of Luana withdraws permission for the US to conduct atomic tests in the area.

“The Curse of the Pharaohs” (11/27/54) – Captain Midnight is asked to investigate the disappearance of an archaeologist.

“The Deserters” (12/4/54) – While helping Squadron members evicted from their clubhouse by developers, Captain Midnight stumbles onto a bank robbery.

“The Electrified Man” (12/11/54) – A scientist working on a countermeasure for radioactive dust becomes incredibly dangerous after using too much energy.

“The Young Criminal” (12/18/54) – Captain Midnight sponsors a youth gym to battle juvenile delinquency, and one of the patrons becomes enamored with the lifestyle of a poolroom owner.

“The Deadly Project” (12/25/54) – A scientist working on a heat-resistant metal for the Air Force is targeted by a rival who developed a sonic gun.

“Touchdown Terror” (1/1/55) – Captain Midnight and a quarterback are kidnapped when the player refuses to throw an important game.

“Top Secret Weapons” (1/8/55) – Captain Midnight gives asylum to a young refugee who was hypnotized to spy on the secret weapon being developed at headquarters.

“The Human Bomb” (1/15/55) – A munitions genius is released from prison and plots revenge against those that put him there.

“The Mark of Death” (1/22/55) – Heading to deliver a goodwill message to India leads Captain Midnight and Ikky to have to rescue Bengra Tassi from The Executioner.

“Arctic Avalanche” (1/29/55) – Convinced to take a sick Eskimo to a hospital, Captain Midnight and Ikky end up walking into a trap.

“Mystery of the Forest” (2/5/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky pose as lumberjacks to investigate the largest non-nuclear explosion in history.

“The Invisible Terror” (2/12/55) – Captain Midnight has to find the formula for a retrovirus that can protect the country from a biological attack.

“Saboteurs of the Sky” (2/19/55) – Captain Midnight has to find a kidnapped Squadron member who developed a method of creating hurricanes.

“Peril from the Arctic” (2/26/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky investigate a renegade scientist experimenting with an anti-magnetic force to be used against the country.

Season 2:
“The Secret Room” (10/29/55) – Captain Midnight busts a phony séance racket designed to distract from the theft of an invention.

“Mission to Mexico” (11/5/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky go to Mexico to find a radio station that broadcasted a message referring to fissionable materials that might be used against the US.

“The Frozen Men” (11/12/55) – Captain Midnight braves a nuclear testing ground in order to free a scientist from suspended animation.

“Doctors of Doom” (11/19/55) – Investigating reports of a giant leads Captain Midnight to a sanitarium housing enslaved scientists.

“Sunken Sapphires” (11/26/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky help young siblings retrieve a cache of jewels.

“Master Criminal” (12/3/55) – A top criminal surrenders to the Squadron in order to get access to the new jet engine being developed at headquarters.

“Secret of Superstition Mountain” (12/10/55) – Ghostly apparitions harass Captain Midnight and Ikky when they find hidden treasure in Arizona.

“The Mountain of Fire” (12/17/55) – A volcanic eruption masks the sabotage of an experiment to turn volcanic heat into electricity.

“The Jungle Pit” (12/24/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky help a Japanese boy find his father on an island who doesn’t know World War II ended.

“Flight into the Unknown” (12/31/55) – Captain Midnight and Ikky track down a banker who disappeared with a large sum of money.

“The Runaway Suitcase” (1/7/56) – A police officer comes to Captain Midnight to help clear his name for a theft he didn’t commit.

“Million Dollar Diamond” (1/14/56) – A boy comes to Captain Midnight about his abusive father, leading him to discover the man has been replaced by a double to steal a valuable diamond.

“The Human Bullet” (1/21/56) – Captain Midnight volunteers to test a new rocket sled, discovering an attempt to sabotage it and discredit its inventor.

KIDS AND COMPANY


KIDS AND COMPANY
(DuMont, September 1, 1951-May 2, 1953)

Wyatt-Schuebell Productions




MAIN CAST:
Johnny Olson (as Olsen) – Host
Ham Fisher – Co-host




            Kids and Company was a Saturday morning variety show hosted by Johnny Olson, his third show for DuMont, and Joe Palooka creator Ham Fisher. It was a talent showcase where kids could come on and demonstrate their particular skills for a television audience, such as dancing, singing, playing an instrument and more. An off-stage organ would usually play along for the musical acts under the stewardship of musical director Bill Wirges. Among the youngsters that appeared were George Segal, Leslie Uggams, Bobby Darin and Marvin Hamlisch, all of whom grew up to have careers in the entertainment industry.

Johnny Olson and his co-host.

            Kids and Company debuted on DuMont on September 1, 1951 and ran for two seasons, originating from the Ambassador Theater in New York City. The show was primarily sponsored by The Red Goose Shoe Company and their mascot, a red goose (naturally), appeared on the show in puppet form to interact with the hosts during commercial segments. As a result, Red Goose shoes were often awarded to the show’s participants, as were watches and defense bonds. Each week an award was presented for “Kid of the Week”, recognizing examples of great courage and determination and overall good community citizenship. The awards were given by the National Junior Chamber of Commerce, and were often presented by guest celebrities. For the final episode of the season, a “Kid of the Year” was chosen and was given a trip to meet President Harry S. Truman, amongst other prizes. Bill Ballard served as a writer for the show.

A baton twirler does his thing.

            In 1956, Olson and the puppet were reunited by ABC for three ninety-minute specials called Red Goose Kiddie Spectaculars, which were essentially a revival of the concept of Kids and Company. Known surviving episodes of the original show are held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Paley Center for Media and the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Before his death in 1955, Fisher’s Joe Palooka would become a brief media empire and eventually ended its newspaper run in 1984. Olson’s career led to his being off-camera more than on as a popular on-air announcer, particularly for gameshows created by Goodson-Todman Productions, which he did until his death in 1985.


EPISODE GUIDE:

N/A

January 23, 2020

JOHN KARLEN DEAD AT 86



You can read the full story here.

He appeared as Bill Leggett in the “My Dear Uncle Sherlock” episode of ABC Weekend Specials. 



January 18, 2020

WINKY DINK AND YOU


WINKY DINK AND YOU
(CBS, October 10, 1953-April 27, 1957)

Barry, Enright & Friendly Productions, CBS Television




MAIN CAST:
Jack Barry – Host
Mae Questel – Winky Dink
Dayton Allen – Mr. Bungle


            Winky Dink and You was the pioneer in interactive television, and some would even say was the first video game.

Promo image of host John Barry with Winky Dink and their show's gimmick.


            Harry Prichett was a graphic designer working for the agency that handled the account for Benrus Watches, the primary sponsor of Your Show of Shows. At one point, Benrus had a campaign that advertised their watches as being “$39.95 and up”. Overscan (when portions of the broadcasted image ending up outside the visible area of the television screen on certain sets) often cut off the “and up” part of the promotion. As a result, customers were angry that they couldn’t buy the specific watch shown on one of the commercials for that price.

Barry with Winky Dink's voice, Mae Questel.

The agency’s staff was tasked with watching the show and reporting back what was visible on their screens. Prichett got the idea to put a piece of cellulose acetate film over his screen so that he could sketch out exactly what was visible in grease pencil. While waiting, he kept himself entertained by doodling over the images on the screen, erasing them, and doodling new ones. While working on another commercial, Prichett once again performed the screen doodles with his colleague, Ed Wyckoff, present. He drew a stick figure in the middle of a prize fight and the fighters seemed to interact with the figure, and vice versa. They realized that kids might enjoy doing that and figured they had a perfect marketing opportunity on their hands. They came up with the concept of their interactive television show and pitched it to CBS.

Barry interacting with Winky Dink.

Winky Dink and You debuted on CBS on October 10, 1953. The show featured live-action host Jack Barry (whose production company co-produced the series) and his assistant, the dim-witted Mr. Bungle (Dayton Allen), interacting with animated little boy Winky Dink (Mae Questel) via an on-set screen. Each week, Barry would prompt the viewers on how and when to draw on their screens as either part of a sketch featuring him and Mr. Bungle, or to help Winky Dink on one of his adventures. For instance, Barry could be talking to a woman comprised entirely of prop puppet lips on the stage, and would task the kids at home to draw in the rest of her body. Or, Winky Dink, in all his extremely limited animation glory, would need a way to cross a river and would wait for the kids to connect dots and draw in a bridge for him to continue (naturally, as the segments were pre-rendered, Winky Dink would get across if the kids drew anything or not). There were also word games where kids were asked to trace letters that appeared on the screen in order to receive a secret message, and pictures that would need to be completed by drawing in various objects. Louis M. Heyward served as a writer for the show.

A group of kids waiting for their turn to draw on the magic screen.

The audience participation was accomplished through the Winky Dink Magic Television Kit. For 50 cents through a television mail-in offer, or $2.95 for a deluxe version available in toy stores, kids could get a plastic screen, wiping cloth and colorful crayons. The screen was charged with static electricity by wiping the cloth on it and then sticking it against the TV’s screen where it would, in theory, stay in place (in practice, however, the screens often had trouble achieving the necessary cling to stay up). They could then draw on the screen with the crayons in the colors and places designated by Barry, and then wipe the screen off with the cloth for the next segment.

Turning Barry into a sheriff.

The marketing scheme proved a success, and the show was a massive hit. By 1955, over 2 million Magic Kits were sold. Along with the Kits, there was an issue of Dell ComicsFour-Color starring Winky Dink in #663 and a single issue of a self-title comic published by Pines Comics two years later. Whitman published two “coloring and dot” books, and Simon & Shuster published a Little Golden Book featuring illustrations by Richard ScarryBarry and Winky Dink together recorded two albums, both published by Decca RecordsThere was even a Halloween costume produced by Halco.

A page from the Winky Dink comic, keeping up the interactivity of the show.

Unfortunately, despite everything going well for the series, CBS ultimately decided to cancel it in 1957. One reason was the concerns about x-rays emanating from TV pictures tubes—especially on early color sets—and the close proximity children had to be to them in order to draw on the plastic screen. The other reason was CBS received numerous complaints from parents who had decided to not purchase the Magic Kit, which inspired their children to draw on the actual screen and ruin the sets.



Despite the show’s end, the series had remained ingrained into the minds and hearts of the kids who grew up watching it to the point that Wyckoff was often greeted with renditions of the theme song. An attempt was made to revive the series in 1969 with 65 syndicated color episodes during the nostalgia craze, but it didn’t catch on as prolifically as the original. In the late 1990s/early 2000s, some of the syndicated episodes were packaged together with a new Magic Kit.



EPISODE GUIDE:
N/A

January 13, 2020

SHOZO UEHARA DEAD AT 82



You can read the full story here.


He wrote for several versions of the Ultraman franchise, including Ultraman Tiga which was broadcast on Saturday morning.



January 12, 2020

ANDREA ARRUTI DEAD AT 21



You can read the full story here.


She provided the Mexican dubs for Diamond Tiara, Fleur De Verre and Cloudchaser in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; Flora in Pokémon: Black and White; Frankie Greene in Transformers: Rescue Bots; Pip in Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal; Sid Chang in The Loud House; Elise in Pokémon XY; Shasa Guten in Beyblade Burst: Evolution; and Makini in The Lion Guard.



















January 11, 2020

AMERICAN BANDSTAND


AMERICAN BANDSTAND
(WFIL-TV, ABC, Syndication, USA Network, October 7, 1952-October 7, 1989)

WFIL-TV (1952-64), Dick Clark Productions (1964-89)




MAIN CAST:
Bob Horn - Host (1952-56)
Lee Stewart – Co-host (1952-55)
Tony Mammarella – Host (1956)
Dick Clark – Host (1956-1989)
David Hirsch – Host (1989)


American Bandstand was a musical television program that showcased Top 40 music as teenagers danced along to the songs. The show began in 1950 as Bandstand on Philadelphia’s WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV), a local program replacing a weekday movie that would air in the timeslot. It was hosted by Bob Horn as a spin-off to his radio show of the same name. Bandstand was a precursor of sorts to MTV as it would show short musical films produced by Snader Telescriptions and Official Films with occasional guests. However, the ratings were abysmal and Horn quickly grew bored with the show. He decided to change it to a dance program that showed teens dancing on camera as records played; based on an idea from WPEN (now WKDN) radio show, The 950 Club.

Dancers choosing the next song Bob Horn would play.


The new Bandstand debuted on WFIL-TV on October 7, 1952. The studio could hold up to 200 dancing teenagers for which time was allotted for Horn to interview them to find out their names, schools, hobbies and whatever else. The music films from the previous version were maintained as filler while dancers were changed out between segments. Horn was given a new co-host in Lee Stewart. Stewart was a local businessman and a large advertising account for WFIL, and his being made co-host was part of the deal. He remained with the show until 1955 when WFIL became more financially stable and didn’t rely on his account as much. In 1956, Horn was fired from the show after becoming involved in a series of scandals; including his involvement in a prostitution ring and being arrested for a DUI while WFIL was doing a news series on drunken driving. Producer Tony Mammarella served as interim host until Dick Clark was hired for the position permanently.

America's teenager: Dick Clark.

That spring, ABC was looking for programming suggestions to fill their 3:30 PM timeslot. Clark pitched the program to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, who eventually agreed to carry the show and bring it to a national audience under the new name, American Bandstand. Baltimore affiliate WAAM (later WJZ) opted not to air Bandstand in favor of attempting to produce their own similar program. Local disc jockey Buddy Deane was named the host of The Buddy Deane Show which aired for two hours daily. A rivalry occurred between Clark and Deane that often resulted in acts first booked on Deane’s show being rejected by Bandstand, and acts first booked on Bandstand were asked never to mention their previous appearance. Deane’s show only ran for 7 years, ending in 1964.



In October of 1957, ABC gave Bandstand a new 30-minute evening show on Monday nights, but it failed in the ratings and was cancelled that December. Also, in November, ABC opted to air their newly acquired game show, Who Do You Trust?, right in the middle of Bandstand on most of their networks. WFIL chose to tape-delay the game show for a later broadcast and air Bandstand in its entirety.

Clark interviewing The Beatles.

By 1959, Bandstand had a national audience of 20 million viewers. It became daily essential viewing and greatly influenced American pop culture. As the show entered the 1960s, ABC opted to truncate the show’s runtime from 90-minutes to 60, and then down to a daily half-hour program. By 1963, the show abandoned its live format and an entire week’s worth of programs were videotaped on the preceding Saturday. This move actually allowed Clark the freedom to pursue other interests as both a producer and host while remaining as Bandstand’s host. That year, the show also moved to Saturday where it would remain in various timeslots after noon throughout the rest of its run.



Many of the local Philadelphia teens became famous following their appearances on the show. Clark would often interview the audience members in a segment called “Rate-a-Record”. He would ask them to rate two records on a scale that Clark would average out, then asked the audience to justify those scores. The segment gave rise to the phrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” when describing the songs. Once, the comedy team of Cheech and Chong appeared on the show as participants in a humorous segment of “Rate-a-Record”.

Clark interviewing musical guest Paul Petersen in front of their ABC-inspired logo.

In 1964, production of the show moved from Philadelphia to ABC Television Center in Los Angeles (currently The Prospect Studios) and they adopted a new logo that emulated the ABC logo, reading “AB” in a circle accompanied by the current two-digit date. After a disastrous first attempt to go color in 1958, which failed because of the size of the cameras required at the time in the small studio space plus ABC’s refusal to transmit in color, Bandstand finally went colorized beginning on September 9, 1967. In 1969, the show gained an entirely new set and another new logo. Notably, after the move, the dancers featured on the show became more integrated. Because of segregation, while WFIL happily exhibited the city’s interracial music scene in order to create a successful program, they kept black teenagers out of the studio so as not to alienate viewers and advertisers.



In 1973, Clark managed to cause a bit of racial controversy of his own when he attempted to expand the Bandstand brand. He created the similar Soul Unlimited, hosted by Buster Jones, with a focus on soul music. Bandstand and Unlimited would share a timeslot for several weeks. Two years prior, Don Cornelius had created his own dance program, Soul Train, which featured music from genres such as R&B, jazz, funk, soul, and hip hop (although Cornelius wasn’t a fan of that particular genre, feeling it did not positively reflect African-American culture). Cornelius and Jesse Jackson openly accused Clark of trying to destroy television’s only program created and run by African-Americans. Unlimited’s target audience also wasn’t pleased with the show due to its alleged use of racial overtones on top of its being created by a white man. Ultimately, Unlimited was cancelled after a few weeks and some of its set pieces were integrated into Bandstand’s.


As Bandstand entered the 1980s, ratings began to steadily decline. MTV and other programs began to fill the niche Bandstand had dominated over the decades, taking away more and more of their audience. Also, many ABC affiliates opted to pre-empt or delay the program for things like college football games, which were getting ever-increasing ratings, or for special presentations like an unsold pilot. In 1986, ABC once again reduced Bandstand from an hour down to 30 minutes. Clark decided to end the show’s association with ABC on September 5, 1987 and moved it to first-run syndication two weeks later, restoring the hour format. The show was now filmed at KCET’s Studio B with a new set similar to Soul Train and was distributed by LBS Communications.


Following the broadcast on June 4, 1988, Bandstand went on a 10-month hiatus. When it returned in April of 1989, it had moved over to cable’s USA Network with comedian David Hirsch assuming hosting duties. Clark remained on as executive producer. The new version of Bandstand ditched the studio setting for the first time and was filmed outdoors at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, Bandstand had ultimately run its course and was cancelled after 26 weeks. Of the over 3,000 episodes produced across the decades, only 883 are known to survive.

Donna Summer co-hosting in 1978.

Throughout the show’s run, a number of the musical acts whose songs were played appeared on the show, many of whom it would be the first time on American television, typically lip-synching to their songs and sitting down for an interview with the host. Some of the acts included Aerosmith, Frankie Avalon, The Bee Gees, E.G. Daily, Def Leppard, ELO, Marvin Gaye, The Guess Who, Corey Hart, Hall & Oates, Billy Idol, the Jackson 5, Janet Jackson, B.B. King, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Mamas & the Papas, Mike + the Mechanics, The Monkees, Juice Newton, Oingo Boingo, The Osmonds, Ray Parker Jr., The Pointer Sisters, Prince, Quaterflash, Della Reese, REO Speedwagon, R.E.M., Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Run-D.M.C., Sha Na Na, Shalamar, Simple Minds, Talking Heads, The Temptations, Conway Twitty, Wham! and “Weird Al” Yankovic. In 1978, Donna Summer became the only musical act to also serve as a co-host as part of a promotion for her upcoming film, Thank God It’s Friday.

Clark posing with New Edition over an anniversary cake.

Bandstand used several themes over the years. Its first was “High Society” by Artie Shaw. After the series was picked up by ABC, the theme became varying arrangements of “Bandstand Boogie” by Charles Albertine. Les Elgart’s big-band version of the theme was released as a single in March of 1954 by Columbia Records. Mike Curb wrote the synthesized rock instrumental piece “Bandstand Theme” which was used from 1969-74 and also received a single release by Forward Records. A new disco version of “Bandstand Boogie” arranged and performed by Joe Porter replaced it in 1974. Another version of “Bandstand Boogie”, this time by Barry Manilow, became the theme from 1977 through 1986. Although Manilow had previously recorded and released the song in 1975, the show’s version featured lyrics by him and Bruce Sussman referencing elements featured on the program. Porter’s theme was retained as bumper music for commercial breaks alongside Billy Preston’s “Space Race”, which had been used on the show since 1974. David Russo arranged a new closing theme that was used from 1986-87, and later performed a new version of “Bandstand Boogie” when the show went into syndication.



In 2002, Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition of the show in Pasadena, California. Frequent guest Michael Jackson led a group of performers that included The Village People, Brandy, members of KISS, Dennis Quaid and The Sharks, Cher and Stevie Wonder. In 2004, Clark, along with frequent collaborator Ryan Seacrest, announced plans to revive the show for the 2005 season. However, these plans were indefinitely delayed when Clark suffered a stroke that year, and would never come to fruition before his death in 2012. A segment of the proposed revival, a national dance contest, was eventually turned into the series So You Think You Can Dance



EPISODE GUIDE:
N/A

WATCH MR. WIZARD / MR. WIZARD


WATCH MR. WIZARD / MR. WIZARD
(NBC, March 3, 1951-June 27, 1965, September 11, 1971-September 2, 1972)

National Broadcasting Company




MAIN CAST:
Don Herbert – Mr. Wizard




            Don Herbert was a science and English major from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse that had an interest in drama. After serving in World War II as a B-24 bomber pilot, Herbert joined Chicago radio station WMAQ where he acted in children’s programs such as the documentary series It’s Your Life, created by the Chicago Industrial Health Organization. During this time, Herbert got the idea of using the new medium of television to bring science to the masses. He pitched his idea and it was accepted by Chicago’s NBC station, WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV).

Don Herbert with one of his books looking on at an experiment.

            Watch Mr. Wizard debuted on NBC on March 3, 1951. Filmed live, the series starred Herbert as Mr. Wizard, a science hobbyist, who would show either a little boy or girl a science experiment. To hook the audience, Herbert would show the results of the experiment, then proceed to explain how it was done and the science behind it. The experiments seemed extremely complicated at first, but ended up being simple and easily re-created by viewers at home. In fact, to keep the show accessible, Herbert refused to don a lab coat and performed his experiments in a garage or kitchen-like setting with everyday household items (which also helped stretch the practically non-existent budget).

Mr. Wizard demonstrating an experiment to one of his young female assistants.

The series proved a hit, drawing in millions of viewers.  It was broadcast live by 14 stations by 1954, and an additional 77 stations aired the show via kinescope recordings. It also netted a Peabody Award and three Thomas Alva Edison National Mass Media Awards. By 1956, over 5,000 Mr. Wizard science clubs were created with an estimated membership of more than 100,000 people (that number increased to 50,000 clubs within the next decade). Teachers had also begun incorporating the experiments from the show into their lesson plans. Initially, the show was sponsored by The Cereal Institute until they dropped their sponsorship in 1955. NBC took over financing by classifying it as a public affairs program from its news division. The series also moved production from Chicago to New York.

Science!

After 547 episodes, NBC cancelled the series in 1965. However, Herbert wasn’t done with edutainment yet. He produced an 8-film series called Experiment: The Story of a Scientific Search that aired on public television through grants from the National Science Foundation and the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation, as well as Science 20 which were 20-minute films of experiments designed for use in classrooms. In 1968, Herbert formed Mr. Wizard Enterprises, Inc. to raise money for production and distribution of his classroom films. He also penned numerous articles and opened a Mr. Wizard Science Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts.



After five years off the air, NBC decided to produce a revival of the series. Production was done in Ottawa, Canada and in color for the first time. Renamed simply Mr. Wizard, the revival debuted on September 11, 1971 and ran for a single season of 26 episodes. Additionally, Herbert produced 50 Mr. Wizard Close-Ups which were 30-second spots that would also air on NBC Saturday mornings, and later on ABC-affiliated stations. The Close-Ups would receive a nomination for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming” from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Herbert continued producing educational content, including one last revival of Mr. Wizard as Mr. Wizard’s World on the then-fledgling Nickelodeon network in 1983.

Behind the scenes photo during Mr. Wizard's NBC tenure.

Herbert is often credited with inspiring scientific interest and curiosity within generations of children, with some of them going on to careers in science themselves. Further, Herbert’s legacy continues to be recognized in pop culture: such as having the penguin puppets named after him on similar science program Beakman’s World, a mention of his program in the “Weird Al” Yankovic song “Cable TV”, and most recently as the inspiration for the Professor Proton character played by Bob Newhart on The Big Bang Theory.

Later edition of one of Herbert's books.

During his career, Herbert had published several books expanding on the science he taught about. During the show’s run; including Mr. Wizard’s Science Secrets from Popular Mechanics (which also came with a science kit), Mr. Wizard’s Experiments for Young Scientists from Doubleday, Mr. Wizard’s 400 Experiments in Science from Book-Lab, Inc., and Mr. Wizard’s Supermarket Science from Random House. In 1952, a Mr. Wizard home science kit was released in stores and later reissued in 1999. Before his death in 2007, Herbert personally curated a selection of episodes from his various runs for release on DVD through his Mr. Wizard Studios. 32 episodes from the original run were released across 8 volumes either individually or as a set. Additionally, two coffee mugs featuring the logos from his first and last series were offered.




EPISODE GUIDE:
N/A