THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 5, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Thunderbeaning – and ‘The Popeye Club’

First, some Thunderbean news:

I spent yesterday morning with film collector and archivist Eric Grayson, helping with the scanning of some film materials. Eric presents rare films all over the country, and has been producing a series of Blu-rays and DVDs as well. It was a rare occasion where I wasn’t transferring things from one of the various projects for Thunderbean, and it gave me a little time to think about where many of the projects are without having my head stuck behind a computer screen or worried about the film being transferred. It’s sort of a tranquil place if you’re not the one spending the money per minute of film rushing through the Telecine!

Quite a few things are wrapping up at the same moment here; while it’s mostly special sets that are heading out the door in the coming week or two, there’s also a few ‘Official’ sets that are pretty close, so I’m enjoying whittling away at many things this week. Next week is spring break at the school I teach at, so it’s all in for getting things done, including a trip to New York to pick up some rare material. I’m also hoping to get some actual new animation much further along on two projects.

Animator Melanie Mrozek, one of the graduating seniors in animation this year at CCS, did a really cute key-out for the Rainbow Parade menus that I saw today, inspiring me to work faster and get all my ducks in a row for the sequence. Pencils out!

A few reels of new UPA commercials came in last week – and these are super fun. The two reels were full of spots I had never seen before. Clearly some were produced in Los Angeles, others in New York. I’m excited to have them on the now almost-finished Cartoon Commercials, volume 2 Blu-ray. Here’s some stills:


Clean-up on these newly found UPA commercials has begun!

Getting a bunch of things to the finish line is a huge relief as well as exciting, since it means more time to finish some of the other things. One of the things I’m especially excited about is a handful of films arriving from one of the archives in the next week or so as well.


And so – today’s thing to watch! My favorite find on the internet this week is this: The Popeye Club Ooey Gooey Special. Those of us of a certain age fondly recall those local kids show hosts from the 1950s and 60s, who first introduced us to Popeye, Looney Tunes, The Three Stooges – even Terrytoons. Here’s one of them – From 1956 to 1970, Don Kennedy was ‘Officer Don’ in Atlanta who, with his pal Orvil the Dragon, would host a daily kid’s cartoon show on channel 2, WPIC, featuring, of course, Popeye. This is a wonderful little look into the history of the show, with footage from over the years. Make sure to watch the other four parts!

Of course, in addition, many of you will remember Tom Hatten. For those who don’t know, he was well-known to Los Angeles audiences for hosting the Popeye show on channel 5, KTLA. Here’s a nice little tribute to him:

And here’s some silent footage from the show I had never seen before:

And, to end things today, here’s Officer Don leading the countdown to a Popeye cartoon! It’s a Fleischer one in this case…can you guess what the cartoon was from the tiny bit of title music here?

Now, do *you* have a favorite cartoon show host that you remember?

43 Comments

  • The cartoon show host I remember best from my childhood was Sgt. Sacto on CAPTAIN DETROIT (WKBD-TV, Channel 50). Sgt. Sacto, who had pointy ears and eyebrows reminiscent of a certain Star Trek character, hovered over the Detroit area in his spaceship and broadcast Three Stooges films, the Little Rascals, and old cartoons for an hour every weekday afternoon. Occasionally he would run contests, and oh, wasn’t I proud when he showed off my drawing of the Lost In Space robot! I later lost respect for Sgt. Sacto when he started making a daily speech explaining that the Stooges used harmless rubber hammers and chisels to abuse each other in their films, so we children mustn’t hit each other over the head with real tools, or we’ll die. This, I felt, was time that could have been put to better use showing more cartoons.

    Here in Australia back in 2002 there was a Looney Tunes show hosted by a model named Holly Brisley on weekday afternoons just before the evening news. The fact that the cartoons were shown uncut, combined with the time slot and Holly’s sultry presence, indicated that the show was aimed at teens and young adults rather than children. It was only on for a year, but it was great while it lasted.

    • Ah yes…..Kaiser Broadcasting really cornered the market in vintage cartoons and shorts by that time….it wasn’t til a family trip to eastern Ohio that I discovered the CAPTAIN CLEVELAND show, complete with a different Sgt Sacto!!!!….Ch50 and Ch 9 from Windsor were the last holdouts of afternoon children’s entertainment of a vintage variety…. luckily by the time it all disappeared, I’d left the country…..

  • the Picture on the front Cartoon Research page that you click on to open the article – that’s from Pittsburgh channel WIIC showing the local Mouseketeer host, By Williams and Capt. Jim, who showed the Fleischer Popeyes from his ship, the Nancy B. Now here we are, almost 60 years later and I’m buying Popeye blue ray DVDs. Where was that photo from?

    • I have just added that advertisement to the post above. It’s actually from a broadcasting trade magazine (Sorry, I don’t know which one), and it’s being used here to be representative of the golden era of TV kiddie show hosts.

    • Actor:Ted Eckman Niemi was”Capt.Jim”of “Captain Jim’s Popeye Club”in the Pittsburgh,Pa. viewing area..J.Wellington.

  • Allen Swift only did the first two years of hosting duties as “Captain Allen” on WPIX’s Popeye Show after they acquired the rights to the AAP package in 1956, but he did was in the unique position of being the only Popeye show host who actually did voice work for Famous Studios, albeit in a limited role (Swift was doing more work up in New Rochelle for Terrytoons while he was handling the hosting duties on Ch. 11 — Captain Swift would be replaced by Captain Jack McCarthy as Popeye Show host, and he’d handle the job through the 1960s).

  • 3/5/20
    RobGems68 wrote;
    Re: Paul Groh: I remembered Sgt. Satco on Channel 50, Detroit,too. He was Tom Ryan, a Detroit radio/TV personality and disc jockey who also worked for CKLW-Windsor in the early 1980’s, and WOMC of Sterling Heights, Michigan during the 90’s, and is currently retired since 2008. He was also memorable as “Count Scary” on WDIV-Channel 4 Detroit during the 1980’s, hosting grade-B movies such as “Beach Blanket Bingo”, and pre-dating “Mystery Science 3000” by a decade by having him and his dim-witted “crew” talking bad puns and corny jokes over the dialogue. I met Ryan once at a Dixieland Flea Market appearance in Pontiac, Michigan, where he was hosting a radio event in his Count Scary costume. Count Scary was a memorable schtick; a combination of wacky Philedelphia personality John Zacherele and Joe Flaherty’s not-so scary Dracula character hosting movies on SCTV-TV from Toronto, Canada. Tom Ryan’s Detroit-based rival in the Dracula at the movies theme was Channel 2’s “Sir Graves Ghastly”, performed by Cleveland Ohio’s Lawson Dermont from 1967-1982.

    • Thanks for that info, Rob. Count Scary debuted after I moved away from Detroit, but I remember seeing him on a billboard along I-75 near Tiger Stadium when I came home to visit. My friends all hated Count Scary and hoped Joe Flaherty would take legal action against him. I had no idea that Scary and Sacto were played by the same guy!

  • Dunno if I’d call them favorites.

    Even as a little kid, I felt the hosts were taking up valuable cartoon time. Wotta nerd. Nonetheless…

    Omaha, mid-1950s. The first thing on the air was The Hawk. A Zorro-looking guy with a mask and cape who operated from a mysterious mountainside cave equipped with a wall-wide control board with lights and switches and buttons. From this emanated AAP Warner cartoons. No in-studio audience.

    Later, a Popeye show (AAP) was added, featuring a grizzled boat captain who operated from the wheel on his bridge. Later there was a Charlie-Chaplin-looking guy with a thick Irish brogue. I don’t remember either of their names. Still no audience.

    A few years later, they retired the hosts altogether, to my relief.

    But before that happened, there was one show with a clown host. Memory is fuzzy, but I think it was one of the local/regional Bozo franchises. And it did have an in-studio audience. And I did attend, once. I was too young to know how TV worked, and I went in thinking I would get a close-up look at the cartoons. In color! (We didn’t get a color TV until the late 60s.) Imagine my disappointment when, on the set, I couldn’t see any cartoons at all! Like I said: cartoon nerd.

    I suppose Nebraska is something of a fly-over state, but Omaha has always been a substantial media market. In what I presume was a series of coincidences, I routinely watched theatrical cartoons from virtually every big studio, for years. The only exception was MGM, which, in yet another coincidence, seemed to be the only cartoons I ever saw at the movies.

    It really is shows like these from the 50s-60s, specifically the daily exposure, that gave awareness and publicity to this art form decades later. Not to mention generating an avalanche of quality home video titles.

    • Kid show hosts were largely eliminated in the early ’70s, after the FCC ruled that the hosts could not do commercials for the sponsors’ products, as that would be combining entertainment content with the commercial content, a “no-no” under the new rules intended to protect from “program-long commercials” for toys, etc.

      Without the revenue from the live commercials, it was simply cheaper for the stations to use “bumpers” to intro recorded ads between the cartoons. (Of course, Hanna-Barbera used this technique right from the start of the Huckleberry Hound show, which was specifically designed not to need a live local host.)

  • In Indianapolis our original Popeye host was Happy Herb the Sailor. Had a boat set, wore navy duds. He was followed by Popeye and Janie, which was on for many years.

    • Janie! She still had a show on Channel 4 when I was at IU in the ‘80s (it was the only station I could get on my TV), along with the horror movie host Sammy Terry (Sammy Terry? Cemetery? Get it?) and all those commercials for Don’s Guns (“‘Cause I don’t want to make any money, folks! I just love to sell guns! Heh heh heh heh heh!”)

    • My Indianapolis memories are of Cowboy Bob’s Chuckwagon Theater (later changed to Corral). Started in 1970 and ran for 19 years. I believe he also played Popeye cartoons and if I remember right it seems like the King Syndicate toons were on there a lot–Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith, Krazy Cat, etc. I’m sure others showed up over the years. I think it was on at noon. Sit down and eat your lunch and watch some cartoons. Nothing better..

  • In Milwaukee, we had a guy who called himself “Uncle Hugo.” He started out showing very old Looney Tunes (the ones before they developed Bugs, Daffy and the rest of their stars), allegedly broadcasting from the “16th sub-basement” of WISN, channel 12.

    One day he fell asleep on the show. When he woke up, he was far out to sea on a ship – all by himself. Very mysterious, but now the cartoons had changed as well. Henceforth, he showed only Popeye cartoons!

    Eventually, the Popeye package moved over the WITI, channel 6. They launched a full-out puppet show around them that they called “Cartoon Alley.” The human host was their weather reporter, Barbara Becker. The main puppet was Albert the Alley Cat. Albert would prove so popular that he eventually wound up doing the nightly weather segment on the news – now with new weather guy, Ward Allen.

    The hand inside Albert belonged to Jack DuBlon, who also doubled at channel 6’s horror movie host, Dr. Cadaverino on Saturday nights.

  • In Connecticut, POPEYE aired on WNHC Channel 8. The first host was known as CAPTAIN SEA WHISKERS (played by actor Mitch Agruss). After a couple of years, he was replaced by a new sea lover known as ADMIRAL JACK. This was in the late 50s and early 60s.

    • I remember Admiral Jack; Channel 8 also had a guy named Space Commander 8; this was the early ’60s and the space race was on everyone’s mind. In the late ’60s, they had Mr. Goober [Mike Warren] who showed Warner Bros. cartoons. He and the kids would introduce each cartoon by yelling “Turn the crank, Frank!” His theme song was “Goober Peas.”

      Channel 3, CBS’s Hartford station, had Hap Richards and Ranger Andy, who showed Hanna Barbera cartoons. Both shows were sponsored by Hostess, and the hosts used to tell their kids to order their mothers to buy Hostess products. “Tell Mom to buy the bread with the red, yellow and blue balloons [Wonder Bread]!” “Tell Mom you don’t want donuts, you want Donettes, the kind with the star in the middle!” Obviously it worked, since I still remember those pitches 55 years later.

  • 3/5/20
    RobGems68 wrote:
    Re: Paul Groh: Now that you’ve mentioned it after over 30 years in retrospect, Tom Ryan’s portrayal of Count Scary did seem juvinile and immature. This might seem that his over-the-top rendition of Count Scary was to be relatable to small kids and pre-teens who feel at home with a ‘comedic” TV vampire as opposed to a scary one, like Bela Lugosi and countless others had portrayed over the years. He did seem like a slight rip-off of Joe Flaherty’s “Count Floyd” character, but he also had some of John Zacharele’s “mad monster” wackiness in his portrayal. Lawson Dermont’s “Sir Graves Ghastly” also owed a lot to Zacherele, as well. Zacharele has been playing a wacky vampire personality since 1956 in Philedelphia, while Dermont’s vampire came a decade later. Also, Dermont’s was originally a Cleveland, Ohio TV personality before coming to Detroit to host a horror movie show. Another Ohio TV personality who found massive success in Detroit was the late Ron Sweed, who played the character of “The Ghoul” on Channel 50, Channel 20, and Channel 62 during the 70’s and 80’s.Sweed pretty much borrowed (and apparently later got permission to adopt) the character from another Ohio TV personality of the 1950’s, Ernie Anderson, who created the original “Ghoul” character.I saw the on/off personalities of Tom Ryan at Dixieland’s Flea Market: his brash “Scary” personality, and his normal “offstage” personality,which was closer to Sgt. Satco: he just exaggerated much more as Count Scary, because Scary was supposed to be a stupid vampire who acted like a pure manchild in public. Hell, he even tried to run a mock-campaign for Governor of Michigan in 1984, with the ridiculous, but satrical “Say Yes To Scary!” Ad campaign, making a jab at the 1980’s “Say Yes To Michigan!” slogan Ryan’s sidekick during the CKLW/Channel 4 years was radio/TV personality Dick Purtan, formely of WKNR “Keener-13” station from the 1960’s, and also later on CKLW & WOMC. Purtan’s character was a smug, self-depreciating personality who blended rather nicely with Ryan’s childish character of Count Scary’s. Now that you really put it, I seem to prefer Zachaerele’s vampire character , who was the original. It’s just too bad he didn’t represent the Detroit./Windsor area. Zacherele also lived to be 98 years old,and even towards the end of his life, he was a wild, crazy vampire.Lawson Dermont lived to be 94, dying in 2012; Ryan and Purtan are currently retired.

  • KOGO TV in San Diego had Johnny Downs, a one-time Our Gang member and second string Gene Kelly. I remember him tap dancing on a gigantic milk bottle from the local Golden Arrow dairies. He even attempted ventriloquism (but not very assiduously — he wasn’t in the same shot as his dummy). singing “C-C-C-Curtis!” (for the then makers of Baby Ruth and Butterfinger) to the tune of “K-K-K-Katy.” Besides Popeye and Looney Tunes, he played some of those foreign cartoons (the one with the kids in the beehive, the four friends, the snowman who sleeps in a fridge until summer, and like that); safety cartoons, including one where a lollipop gets run over and dies; and one I wish I could find, a limited-animation rendering of “C-A-T Spells Cat, C-A-T.”

    One time Johnny did a live appearance at College Grove Shopping Center. He offered a toy in exchange for a joke. I offered one that I filched from a Three Stooges comic book: “Why did the jelly roll? It saw the apple turnover!” That won me a tea set which I gave to my little sister.

    • Remember the bow tie? It’s how I still remember him.

  • I grew up in Los Angeles and really got my start in appreciating and loving cartoons by watching all the kiddie shows of the 50’s and 60’s. Always happy to see clips of Skipper Frank, Tom Hatten and Engineer Bill. Tom Hatten did a drawing for me (in the 1980’s) which I still have. I was also once in the birthday gallery of the Chucko the Birthday Clown show. When I think of my young childhood, my fondest memories were of watching these shows and all the great cartoons that they played!

  • 3/6/20
    RobGems68 wrote:
    Re: Paul Groh: Now that I think about it over 30 years later in retrospect, Tom Ryan’s Count Scary character does seem immature and childish today, He seemed to borrowed much from Joe Flaherty, but also borrowed much from John Zacherele as well: Lawson Dermont as Sir Graves Ghastley also owed his character to Zacherele as well. The same thing happened with another Ohio personality who found massive success on Detroit TV: the late Ron Sweed, who portrayed “The Ghoul” on Channels 20,50, and 62, all in the Detroit area,only he borrowed (and apparently got permission to adopt) the “Ghoul” character from another Ohio TV personality, Ernie Anderson, who developed his original “Ghoul” character in the 1950’s.Ryan probably exaggerated his acting with the Count Scary character as opposed to his Sgt. Satco character, he was merely portraying a “stupid” vampire to be played for laughs for the small kids and pre-teens, as opposed to a “scary” vampire played by Bela Lugosi, and countless other actors over the years.Looking at it now, his acting was a bit on the manchild behavior meant for cheap laughs, obviously post-hormonal teenagers and grown-ups thought he was nothing but a big nerd. As I once met Tom Ryan in Pontiac, he seemed to switch his personalities in public from the wacky Count Scary personality to the normal offstsge personality, which was closer to Sgt. Satco by comparison. He even ran a ridiculous, but satrical ad campaign in 1984 to mock-run for Governor of Michigan, using a parody Of the 1980’s jingle “Say yes to Michigan”, as “Say yes to Scary!” Silly, but it was all an act.

    • That really takes me back. I remember Sir Graves Ghastly but seldom watched his show because I had chores to do Saturday afternoons. I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to watch The Ghoul, but I remember seeing his commercials on Channel 50 and hearing other kids (with more permissive parents) talk about him.

      Michigan didn’t have a gubernatorial election in 1984. Did Count Scary run in 1982 (Blanchard vs. Headlee), or in 1986 (Blanchard vs. Lucas)? And yes, all you non-Michiganders out there, the Great Lake State once really had a serious candidate for governor named Dick Headlee! (He lost.)

  • I had a crush on Sally Starr (WFIL-TV 6) and Pixanne (WPHL-TV 17) in Philadelphia as a lad. Always thought the lady on the flying horse in the 1960s Popeyes was “Our Gal Sal”. 😀

    Philly actually had a pretty good crop of kid hosts, from Chief Halftown and Captain Noah to Gene London and Wee Willie Webber…

  • Among the beloved kids show hosts I will recall, because to me they were genuinely funny, are Sandy Becker and Soupy Sales…both played Warner Brothers cartoons and I realized much later that Sandy Becker had actually done cartoon voices for studios like Total Television; yes, it has been already discussed on this site that he was responsible for the voice of Mr. Wizard the Lizard who would also magically give Tooter Turtle the chance to be anything he wanted, even an interior decorator–no doubt inspired by Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy antics of slapstick. Sandy took some of this to his Norton Nork character on his live action hosting duties. I also enjoyed watching “CLAUDE KIRSHNER’S LOONEY TUNES CIRCUS” which later morphed into “TERRYTOONS CIRCUS” (or was it the other way around?), and it was the only place that allowed me to enjoy the earliest black and white antics of Bosko, Buddy and Porky Pig.

  • Dear Jerry,

    I’ve read..J.Lee’s post about “Capt.Allen”Swift’s hosting duties for WPIX TV Ch.11 NYC’s “Popeye Show”..with all due respect..Mr.Swift’s”Capt.Allen”actually mc’d the program for five years..not just two. He hosted the show..Weekday evenings from Monday September 10,1956 to Friday September 23,1960.And “Capt.Jack”McCarthy hosted Ch.11’s “Popeye Show”weekday evenings and later on..Weekday afternoons..until September,1972.

  • Cousin Cliff Holman hosted Popeye in Birmingham for a number of years until 1971, when he moved to Anniston.

    Audio from a Cousin Cliff Popeye show in 1962.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blxz40kmGSI

    He returned to Birmingham in the mid 70’s, ran a hotel, and eventually returned to kids show hosting. Here’s his show at Channel 6 in the early 1990’s.
    Part 1
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNWrhH9yTWs

    Part 2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdqaJu6ZEFQ

    Part 3
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7adhW2TKGtI

    Cousin Cliff Holman developed Alzheimer’s and his death was featured in HBO’s the Alzheimer’s Tapes.

  • Captain Jack McCarthy on WPIX out of New York City http://www.tvparty.com/lostny2catjack.html

    • John,I’m the one..who wrote the tribute to “Capt.Jack”McCarthy for “The TV Party”website.

  • 3/6/20
    RobGems.ca:
    Re: Paul Groh: You are right; it was 1982, with Blanchard/Headlee involved; it was so long ago (nearly 39 years!) that my memory was kind of foggy about it, but that “Say yes to Sacry!” mock-campaign was memorable because it was so moronic; and when Ryan/Scary’s character failed to win the 1982 campaign, he played up to his manchild vampire role by memorably throwing a mock temper tantrum in front of the camera; it was so campy .Kevin, I remember Soupy Sales too, as he was huge in Detroit during the 1950’s on WXYZ-Channel 7, an ABC affiliate.Sales was born in South Carolina (as Milton Supman), but later re-located to Cleveland, Ohio during the late 1940’s as a wacky radio DJ, and later on local Cleveland Television in 1950, where he reportedly got his very first pie in the face.He re-located to Detroit in 1952, and became a household name over here; Local Detroit celebrities like Alice Cooper (who was then known as Vincent Furnier) and The Supremes’ Mary Wilson later recalled growing up watching him on television on his “Lunch With Soupy Sales” show, and later his 1957 morning show “Breakfast With Soupy Sales” show. Then, in 1960, he left Detroit for Los Angeles and later New York City. His 1965-1966 TV show for Screen Gems/WNEW-Channel 5 was taped in New York; Many of these shows were believed for decades to be lost forever by accidental wiping/erasing the videos, until around 2012, after Soupy’s 2009 death, about 103 lost episodes finally turned up in an abandoned TV warehouse in Los Angeles, many of them are now up for viewing on You-Tube, though not all of them. As for the “funny little green pieces of paper” prank episode he did on New Years’ Day 1965 that got him temporarily suspended from his TV network, that one’s gone forever, believed now to be recorded live on the air, not videotaped. reportedly, Soupy did that prank during the last five minutes of the show because he was miffed that he had to work on New Year’s Day, and he needed something to ad-lib during the closing moments of the episode; It’s now his most famous and memorable incident ten years after his death. M. Mitchell, I loved Sally Starr too. Although she didn’t represent Detroit or Windsor, her cowgirl persona was cute and memorable. She was probably inspired by a combination of Dale Evans and Gail Davis, who played “Annie Oakley” on TV in the 1950’s for Gene Autry’s TV Productions. She also probably borrowed a little from 1930’s cowgirl singer/yodeler Patsy Montana (“I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” was a smash in 1934) as she cut a couple of single records during the 1950’s and one album in 1969.She was memorable for showing Popeye and The Three Stooges on her show, and had a memorable pledge to the kids in the audience (“I pledge not to poke people’s eyes out like Moe of The Three Stooges in public.”) Lots of memories I’ll never forget.

    • Soupy Sales started out at WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in Cincinnati, not Cleveland. He and another young guy named Rod Serling wrote all of the station’s content themselves — drama, comedy, commercials, kids’ shows — and both went on to iconic careers in television. Must have been a fun place to work!

      I remember watching Soupy’s mid-’60s show when I was home sick with the chicken pox. One time he showed the Little Lulu cartoon with the song “Swing on a Star”, which got stuck in my head; I sang it around the house, over and over, and wasn’t I surprised when my mother dug out the sheet music and started playing it on the piano! Back then I thought my parents could do anything, and here was proof!

      With your knowledge of Detroit broadcasting history, maybe you can clarify something for me. I remember that in the mid-’60s, the local Bozo show was hosted by a rather sedate clown, and there was no studio audience. In the late sixties, however, the show was revamped as Bozo’s Big Top, with a studio audience and a brand new Bozo, a much more energetic guy with a completely different voice. At the same time, the original Bozo got a new costume and reinvented himself as Oopsy the Clown. Other kids never believed me when I pointed out that Oopsy used to be Bozo, but I swear he was. Rob, can you shed any light on Detroit’s two Bozos of the sixties?

  • 3/6/20
    RobGems68 wrote:
    Re: Paul Groh: Thanks for correcting me about Soupy sales’ Ohio TV experiences; I knew it was somewhere in Ohio, but just guessed it was in Cleveland. I think Fred Rogers once stated in an interview that he saw a comedian like Soupy throwing pies on TV, and thought it was too tasteless to show in front of little kids. No wonder he went on to become a more milquetoast-like TV personality, he thought the main personalities of kiddie shows during the 1950’s were too brash and too slapstick-like. About your Bozo/Oopsy TV personality, I sure do remember seeing him on TV (as Oopsy, anyway; his Bozo character was before my time.) He was Bob McNea (1929-2005), a personality TV host who got to play the very first Bozo on Detroit/Windsor TV. He played the role on Channel 4/WWJ-TV from 1959-1966, then in late 1966, he became Oopsy The Clown from 1966-1980. He later took his Oopsy act to Halifax, Ontario area from 1981-1987, then retired the character for good after that. He died in 2005. Two more Detroit TV personalities were Johnny Ginger, who had a show on WXYZ-Channel 7 performing as a goofy, funny-faced theater usher, showing old Columbia/Screen Gems shorts in his time slots. He was reportedly the first TV host to show The Three Stooges on re-run television from 1957-1962. Also on TV was sad-faced Ricky The Clown, a Emmett Kelly, Sr.-like clown host played by Irving Romig. He was also on WXYZ Channel 7, and showed Laurel and Hardy and Little Rascals shorts from 1953-1965.

    Finally, there was Milky The Clown On both Channel 2 and later Channel 4, played by Clare Cummings (in the 1950’s) and later by Karel Fox (in the 1960’s.) Milky was promoted exclusively by Twin Pines Milk Co., and hosted Old B-Westerns by Bob Steele, Andy Devine, and Gene Autry. Speaking of Andy Devine, although not based in the cities of Detroit/Windsor, he had a show in the 1950’s, replacing a host from the 1940’s named Smiling Ed McConnell, sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes, and telecasted on various NBC-TV outlets, including Detroit’s Channel 4. His show was wild and crazy, and featured a young Vito Scotti in numerous roles, often playing now politically incorrect ethnic roles (Spanish, French, Mexican, Asian, though he was in reality a Italian-American himself.) The real star of that show, however was the mischief-making”Froggy The Gremlin”, a toy prop frog who came to life by “the twanging of a magic plunker”, and usually harassed or humiliated Andy and the various co-stars that Andy had on his shows as guests. (“Hi-ya, kids! I bet you I did some havoc, I did, I did!, Ha ha ha”,etc.) Ron Sweed saw the show as a kid, and got permission from Andy Devine in 1970 to use the “Froggy” character for his “Ghoul” show, only this time, Froggy was usually the victim of The Ghoul’s various pranks instead of having Froggy doing the pranks on the host.

    Sweed’s Ghoul character would blow Froggy up with firecrackers, stuff him in a blender or mixing bowl machine, set him on fire with a match, or stuff the poor frog toy in a battered old suitcase, and have him thrown off cliffs, run over in the parking lot by a car, or have the frog in a suitcase tied up to a bumper of said car, and dragged along the TV station’s driveway, among other crazy stuff. No wonder your parents wouldn’t let you watch “The Ghoul” on late night TV; he was a real party animal.

  • 3/6/20
    RobGems.ca wrote:
    Two more things, Paul: The other two Bozos on Detroit/Windsor TV after Bob McNea left to play Oopsy were played by two more actors: Jerry Booth, a Canadian-based TV personality who had a Windsor TV show called “Jingles In Boofland” from 1960-1962 was the 2nd Bozo; his reign as Bozo was very brief, only playing the clown character for one year (1966-1967), then had the show dropped by the Channel 4 affiliate to concentrate on McNea’s/Oopsy’s show. Channel 9 (a CKLW subsidary at the time) picked up the Bozo character in 1967 as “Bozo’s Big Top” by hiring Detroit actor Al Cervi as the Windsor Bozo.This version lasted until 1978, then was picked up by Channel 2, for four more years , finally being cancelled in 1982. I hope that answered all of your questions, Paul.

    • It did, Rob, and thank you for being so thorough. My conical Milky the Clown hat is off to you, sir!

  • Tom Hatten made a comeback in the ’70s with Popeye on channel 5. It’s no wonder kids today have the issues they have, with no vaguely but endearingly freaky kiddie show host to introduce them to inferior public domain prints of dated theatrical cartoons which made us all long to see them cleaned up (or else there’d be no Thunderbean). Of course the era reached its apex in the late ’60s with Bob McAllister (is he still around, does anybody know? Hatten went to that great spinach patch in the sky last year), host of “Wonderama,” although I don’t remember whether that even had cartoons.

    • No..Hans… Mr. Hatten left us… not too long ago.

  • I can add that I remember Captain Jack McCarthy (“Hut to Peen and smooth sailing!”) as the host of Popeye shows at WPIX in New York in the 1960s and 70s. McCarthy was also the host/reporter of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade broadcast for many years. One year he had a special show ‘Popeye’s Birthday” when his special guest was the current Popeye strip artist Bud Sagendorf (there’s a name for ya). Bud drew the strip’s characters on a big drawing pad (“now Olive Oyl here, she has a big pickle nose”) while chatting with Cap’n Jack and he said Popeye was 35 years old, so this must’ve been in 1964. As for Soupy Sales’ infamous ‘send your money to me, kids’ broadcast, there’s an additional piece of the story told by Chuck McCann, who had migrated from WPIX over to New York competitor WNEW to join Soupy and Sandy Becker and Paul Winchell as an unbeatable team of kiddie show hosts. He tells the story starting at 7:45 in this YouTube clip from 2011:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2bKLTgjrlM

  • Chuck McCann also did a tv tribute to “Popeye” on his weekday afternoon “Chuck McCann Show” on WPIX TV Ch.11 in NYC..along with Mr.Sagendorf..Cartoonist and cartoon historian Mort Walker (The Creator of”Beetle Bailey” and “Hi & Lois”) were also guests on the show… along with a studio audience of kids.

  • And Bob McAllister past away during the summer of 1998.

  • “Captain Jack” McCarthy hosted WPIX TV Ch.11 NYC’s “Popeye Show” from Monday September 26, 1960 to 1972.

  • 3/9/20
    RobGems68 wrote:
    Ernie Anderson’s ghoul character from the 1950’s-1960’s in Ohio was known as “Ghoulardi” or “The Great Ghoulardi”. Ron Sweed got permission to use a ghoul character from Anderson in 1970, as well as permission to use Smiling Ed McConnel’s and Andy Devine’s “Froggy The Gremlin” toy frog the same year. Devine passed on in 1977, McConnel passed in 1954, Anderson passed away sometime around 1972, and recently, Sweed passed on in 2019.

  • Dear RogB and Paul Grouh,

    There was another performer..who hosted”Bozo The Clown”in the Detroit,Mi. viewing area..Art Cervi mc’d the show for a time.

  • Two hosts/performers aired the “Popeye”cartoons in the Detroit,Mi.viewing area from CKLW TV Ch.9 in Windsor/Ontario,Canada..”Capt.Jolly”(Toby David)weekday evenings and “Poopdeck Paul”Allen(Schultz..Who was also “Capt.Jolly’s puppeteer)mc’d the programs Saturday and Sunday evenings.

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