January 04, 2020
(ABC, August 19, 1950-May 12, 1951)
Acrobat Shoe Company, ABC Chicago
Jack Stillwell – Uncle Jim
Valerie Alberts – Flying Flo
Billy Alberts – Tumbling Tim
One of the first Saturday morning offerings from ABC came from a partnership with the Acrobat Shoe Company. Throughout the 1940s, Acrobat would offer free circus-themed story and coloring books with their shoes, initially starring a character named Tumblin Tim and later Flyin Flo. They decided to expand on the concept by bringing those characters to life on television.
Acrobat Ranch debuted on ABC on August 19, 1950 and ran almost a full year. It was a variety show set on a ranch backdrop, filmed live in Chicago and sent to other markets via video recording, with Billy and Valerie Alberts filling the Tim and Flo roles. Hosted by Uncle Jim (Jack Stillwell), the show served as a showcase for a number of acrobatic feats with a touch of physical comedy, animal and magic tricks. At a point in the show, children from the studio audience are asked on stage to participate in various games for merchandise prizes. Advertisements for Acrobat shoes would also be featured in the form of little skits between segments, which would also include merchandise giveaways and any contests the company would run.