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 29, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: PAUL FREES


PAUL FREES
(June 22, 1920-November 2, 1986)

Notable Roles: Ludwig Von Drake, Wally Walrus, Boris Baddenov, Inspector Fenwick, Captain Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz, Squiddly Diddly, Morocco Mole, Double-Q, Yellow Pinkie, Claude Hopper, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ape, Baron Otto Matic, Evil Star, The Thing, Santa Claus, Burgermeister Meisterburger, K.A.R.R.

Frees was known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices”; a title he shared with colleague Mel Blanc. He began his career in the 1930s as an impressionist under the stage name Buddy Green. This skill set would prove to be a boon to his career as he would be called in to re-loop dialogue of other actors or correct for foreign accents in various productions. In 1942, he began a 40-year career in radio that was briefly interrupted by first being drafted into WWII and then attending the Chouinard Art Institute before his first wife’s failing health sent him back into it. Frees worked extensively with various animation studios of the time, including Disney, Warner Bros., Walter Lantz Productions, UPA, Jay Ward Productions, MGM (which would lead him to Hanna-Barbera), DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Rankin/Bass and Ruby-Spears. His first Saturday morning entry was The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, where he played multiple roles including primary antagonist Boris Baddenov. While best known for his voice work, Frees did make a few on-camera appearances in minor roles, was a songwriter and a screenwriter. Frees died in 1986 from an overdose of pain medication. Although ruled a suicide, his agent released a statement citing the cause was heart failure.

Saturday Credits:
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
The Dick Tracy Show
Hoppity Hooper
The Secret Squirrel Show
Super President
George of the Jungle
The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show
Shazzan
The Beatles
The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Fantastic Four (1967)
The Pink Panther Show
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
Jackson 5ive
The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie
Run, Joe, Run
The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: BOB KEESHAN


BOB KEESHAN
(June 27, 1927-January 23, 2004)

Notable Roles: Clarabelle the Clown, Corny the Clown, Tinker, Captain Kangaroo, Mister Mayor, Aesop

After serving in WWII, Keeshan joined The Howdy Doody Show during the rise of television as the original Clarabell the Clown. Portrayed as mute, Clarabell would communicate with horns and would spray host Bob Smith with a seltzer bottle. Because of a salary dispute, he and most of the Howdy Doody cast walked off the show in 1952 and were subsequently replaced. He played another clown, Corny, on the local ABC program Time for Fun and created and starred in the preschool-aimed program Tinker’s Workshop. Developing ideas from Tinker’s, Keeshan and his friend Jack Miller submitted the concept of Captain Kangaroo to CBS when they were looking for new children’s programming. CBS greenlit the show and Keeshan starred as the titular Captain Kangaroo, so named for the large pockets on his coat, beginning on October 3, 1955. CBS continually changed its timeslot and length throughout its run, before he decided to end it when his contract ran out in December of 1984. The show earned Emmy Awards for its last three years on air. During Captain Kangaroo’s run, Keeshan tried to do a second show called Mister Mayor in 1964, but it only lasted a single year. In 1985, Keeshan hosted the original run of CBS Storybreak for three seasons, which featured animated adaptations of various children’s books. He considered a revival of Captain Kangaroo, but was unable to obtain the rights to do so. In 1987, he co-founded Corporate Family Solutions, which provided day-care programs to businesses. He took part in the 1993 congressional hearings against violence in video games and published his memoir in 1995. Keeshan also received several honorary doctorates for his work with children. Keeshan had suffered a heart attack in 1981 which led to his receiving triple-bypass surgery. He died of another heart attack in 2004.

Saturday Credits:
The Howdy Doody Show
Captain Kangaroo
Mister Mayor
CBS Storybreak
Hercules: The Animated Series

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 22, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: PAUL WINCHELL


PAUL WINCHELL
(December 21, 1922-June 24, 2005)

Notable Roles: Dick Dastardly, Clyde, Softie, Fleegle, Tigger, Gargamel, Baby Smurf, Goober, Woofer, Moe Howard, Marmaduke, Zummi Gummi

Winchell had ambitions to become a doctor, but the Great Depression eliminated any possibility of his family affording medical school. While sick with polio, he saw an ad for a ventriloquism kit and created his first dummy: Jerry Mahoney. He worked on his act and took it to the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in 1938, which he won. The prize included touring and playing with the Major Bowes Review. Bandleader Ted Weems saw Winchell and offered him employment, which Winchell accepted. He refined Jerry’s design and created a second dummy, Knucklehead Smiff. He also created Ozwald, a character rendered by drawing a face on his chin and filming himself upside-down. He and Jerry first appeared on radio in 1943, but was overshadowed by Edgar Bergen. They found success in the 1950s on television with The Paul Winchell Show, which aired in various timeslots under various names and formats for its duration. Following that, Winchell and his dummies appeared on various programs, with his last regular on-screen role being in the children’s game show Runaround. Beginning in 1968, Winchell became a voice actor, notably as the voice of Dick Dastardly for Hanna-Barbera and Tigger in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh franchise, and later on as Gargamel in The Smurfs franchise. In between, Winchell realized his medical ambitions by becoming a pre-med student at Columbia University, a graduate of The Acupuncture Research College of Los Angeles, working as a medical hypnotist at the Gibbs Institute in Hollywood, invented an artificial heart with Dr. Henry Heimlich, and developed over 30 patents. In the 1980s, he attempted to aid starvation in Africa by coming up with a way to cultivate tilapia fish in tribal villages, but was denied Congressional support. Winchell retired from acting in 1999 and died of natural causes in 2005.

Saturday Credits:
The Paul Winchell Show
Paul Winchell’s Cartoonies
The Lone Ranger (1966)
Wacky Races (1968)
The Pink Panther Show
Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
Storybook Squares
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
Help!...It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Runaround
The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie
Yogi’s Gang
Goober and the Ghost Chasers
Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
Hong Kong Phooey
These Are the Days
The Oddball Couple
Clue Club
The Skatebirds
CB Bears
Fred Flintstone and Friends
The Robonic Stooges
Casper and the Angels
The Super Globetrotters
Trolkins
Heathcliff (1980)
The Smurfs
Spider-Man (1981)
Meatballs and Spaghetti
Yogi’s Treasure Hunt
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Garfield and Friends

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: BILL SCOTT


BILL SCOTT
(August 12, 1920-November 29, 1985)

Notable Roles: Bullwinkle J. Moose, Mr. Peabody, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, Super Chicken, Tom Slick, Fillmore Bear, moosel, Gruffi Gummi, Sir Tuxford, Toadwart

Scott’s career began during WWII when he worked in the US Army’s First Motion Picture Unit under the command of Ronald Reagan. Following the war, he became a story man at Warner Bros. working under Arthur Davis, a writer for Bob Clampett’s Time for Beany puppet show, and worked on the adaptations of Gerald McBoing-Boing and The Tell-Tale Heart for UPA. He later served as the voice director for The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show and dialogue director for the film 1001 Arabian Nights. Scott was recruited into Jay Ward Productions when Jay Ward’s original partner and writer, Alex Anderson, was content with civilian life. He helped develop The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle and subsequently became the voice of the titular Bullwinkle when Ward liked the voice Scott used during their scripting sessions. He continued to write, produce and act in all of the shows created by Ward, although he never received on-screen credit for his voice work. Because Ward’s studio was primarily sponsored by General Mills and the Quaker Oats Company, Scott also had the opportunity to write many of their commercials. In 1952, he became President of the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild and was also a member of the Screen Actors Guild. He was elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After a decade of inactivity, Scott returned to writing and acting in the 80s, doing Rah Rah Woozy for Ward followed by The Puppy’s Further Adventures for Ruby-Spears Productions, Alvin & The Chipmunks for Bagdasarian Productions, and Walt Disney Television Animation’s first two productions, The Wuzzles and Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Scott died of a heart attack in 1985.

Saturday Credits:
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
Hoppity Hooper
George of the Jungle (1967)
The Puppy’s Further Adventures
Alvin & the Chipmunks (1983)
ABC Weekend Specials
CBS Storybreak
The Wuzzles
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears

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 15, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: DAWS BUTLER


DAWS BUTLER
(November 16, 1916-May 18, 1988)

Notable Roles: Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Hokey Wolf, Reddy, Snagglepuss, Wally Gator, Peter Potamus, Quick Draw McGraw, Scooby Dum, Augie Doggie, Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore, Elroy Jetson, W.C. Cogswell, Henry Orbit, Chilly Willy, Cap’n Crunch

Regarded as the nicest man in the business, Butler began his career as an impressionist, winning most of the amateur contests he entered as a means to help him combat his shyness. That led him to gain professional gigs at vaudeville theaters. He joined Jack Lavin and Willard Ovitz to form the comedy trio The Three Short Waves, who played theaters, radio and nightclub engagemtns. After serving in WWII, he voiced his first theatrical short Short Snorts on Sports for Screen Gems in 1948. Following that, he became a regular performer in shorts directed by Tex Avery for MGM and the Warner Bros. puppet show Time For Beany working with Stan Freberg. Butler worked on several commercials and comedy albums with Freberg, and also appearing on Freberg’s radio show. In 1957, he became a regular player for Hanna-Barbera beginning with The Ruff & Reddy Show, and worked often with Jay Ward Productions first in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle and as the first voice for Cap’n Crunch in commercials. In 1975, Butler began an acting workshop that molded such stars as Nancy Cartwright, Corey Burton, Bill Farmer, Pat Parris, Bob Bergen, Mona Marshall and others. Butler died of a heart attack in 1988, and was succeeded by his protégé Greg Burson in many of his roles.

Saturday Credits:
The Ruff & Reddy Show
Rocky & Bullwinkle
The Bugs Bunny Show
The Space Kidettes
The Super 6
Wacky Races (1968)
Harlem Globe Trotters
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
Help!... It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!
The Funky Phantom
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie
The Roman Holidays
The Houndcats
Bailey’s Comets
Yogi’s Gang
Hong Kong Phooey
Sesame Street
Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics
Posse Impossible
CB Bears
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour
The All-New Popeye Hour
Galaxy Goof-Ups
Yogi’s Space Race
The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show
Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo
Yogi’s Treasure Hunt

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: DON MESSICK


DON MESSICK
(September 7, 1926-October 24, 1997)

Notable Roles: Ruff, Professor Gizmo, Ricochet Rabbit, Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo, Muttley, Spike, Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, Dr. Benton Quest, Mumbly, Godzooky, Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Papa Smurf, Azrael, Dreamy Smurf, Astro, R.U.D.I., U.N.I.B.L.A.B., Hamton J. Pig, Droopy Dog

Messick originally wanted to be a ventriloquist and made a living at it early on. After performing in front of the program manager and chief announcer of radio station WBOC in Salisbury, Maryland, he was given his own weekly show at age 15 where he performed all of the voices and sound effects. After serving in the U.S. Army’s Special Services unit, Messick was hired by the Mutual Broadcasting radio station in Los Angeles to play Raggedy Andy and Farmer Seedling on The Raggedy Ann Show. At the suggestion of Daws Butler, director Tex Avery hired Messick to perform the voice of Droopy Dog when his regular actor, Bill Thompson, was unavailable, giving Messick his start in animation. He and Butler joined Hanna-Barbera as regular players in 1957 and were often paired together. Messick typically played sidekicks like Boo Boo Bear, provided the narration for various shows, or sound effects for various creatures. He became a major headliner when he was cast as the voice of Scooby-Doo, which would turn out to be the studio’s most enduring character. However, after A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, he retired from the role, claiming quitting smoking robbed him of the rasp he needed to perform it (although he did perform one more time in a 1996 Burger King commercial). After suffering a stroke while recording in 1996, Messick retired from voice acting altogether. He died from a second stroke the following year.

Saturday Credits:
The Ruff & Reddy Show
The Secret Squirrel Show
The Atom Ant Show
Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles
Space Ghost & Dino Boy
Super President
Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor
The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show
Space Kidettes
Fantastic Four (1967)
Herculoids
Shazzan
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio
Wacky Races (1968)
The Adventures of Gulliver
Cattanooga Cats
The Archie Comedy Hour
Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
H.R. Pufnstuf
Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (1969)
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Doctor Dolittle (1970)
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
Josie and the Pussycats (1970)
Help!... It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!
Harlem Globe Trotters
The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show
The Funky Phantom
The Flintstone Comedy Hour
The Barkleys
The Houndcats
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie
Jeannie
The Addams Family (1973)
Bailey’s Comets
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Inch High, Private Eye
Yogi’s Gang
Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
Hong Kong Phooey
These Are the Days
The New Tom & Jerry Show
The Oddball Couple
Jabberjaw
The Mumbly Cartoon Show
Dynomutt Dog Wonder
The Skatebirds
Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics
CB Bears
Fred Flintstone and Friends
Baggy Pants & the Nitwits
Yogi’s Space Race
Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
The New Fantastic Four
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour
Challenge of the Superfriends
Dinky Dog
The New Fred and Barney Show
ABC Weekend Specials
Fred and Barney Meet the Thing
The Super Globetrotters
Godzilla (1978)
Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo
The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979)
The Flintstones Comedy Show
Drak Pack
The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
Space Stars
Heathcliff (1980)
Trollkins
The Kwicky Koala Show
Spider-Man (1981)
The Smurfs
The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour
The New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show
Saturday Supercade
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
The Mighty Orbots
Get Along Gang
Yogi’s Treasure Hunt
Pink Panther and Sons
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
Galtar and the Golden Lance
Scooby’s Mystery Funhouse
Popeye and Son
The Real Ghostbusters
Foofur
Pound Puppies (1986)
DuckTales (1987)
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
Garfield and Friends
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera
Tom & Jerry Kids Show
Tiny Toon Adventures
Bobby’s World
Yo Yogi!
The Plucky Duck Show
Droopy, Master Detective
Freakazoid!


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.