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