TLW's Children's TVscope™ (Children's TV Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Oct. 7, 2015. Last Update: Dec. 11, 2016.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to Children's TV history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
On Dec. 27, 1947 The Howdy Doody Show (originally the Puppet Playhouse) (the first network weekday children's show) debuts on NBC-TV (until Sept. 24,1960), produced in Rockefeller Center, Studio 3A in New York City, selling people on the future of TV; "Say, kids, what time is it? It's Howdy Doody time!"; Howdy Doody has 48 fernticles, er, freckles on his face, one for each U.S. state, and he and his twin bro' Double Doody were born on Dec. 27, 1941; show founder and host "Buffalo Bob" Smith (Robert Emil Schmidt) (1917-98) is the voice; Smith's sidekick is mute seltzer bottle and bicycle horn-wielding Clarabell the Clown, first played by Robert James "Bob" Keeshan (1927-2004) (until 1952); other chars. incl. Chief Thunderthud, of the Ooragnak (Kangaroo backwards) Tribe, known for the greeting "Kowabonga", Princess Summerfallwinterspring (Judy Tyler), J. Cornelius Cobb, Sir Archibald the Explorer, The Featherman, Ugly Sam (Dayton Allen), and Pierre the Chef (Dayton Allen); it is shown in color starting in 1955
In 1949 the children's Sat. morning variety series Children's Theater debuts on WNBT (later WNBC) in New York City (until June 1961), created by radio announcer Raymond "Ray" Forrest (Feuerstein) (1916-99), pioneering how to encourage children to become good citizens.
In Feb. 1953 The Romper Room TV show for Baby Boomer children debuts in Baltimore, Md. on station WBAL-11 (until Sept. 1994); starting in Apr. it features Nancy Claster (nee Goldman) (1915-97), wife of the producer as Miss Nancy, who trains hosts for franchised versions in 160 U.S. cities; "I have to go potty, and I'm doing it right now."
On Oct. 3, 1955 (Mon.) the children's series Captain Kangaroo d;ebuts on CBS-TV (until Dec. 8, 1984), starring Robert James "Bob" Keeshan (1927-2004), who played Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum (1910-87) as Mister Green Jeans and Mr. Bunny Rabbit (operated by Cosmo Allegretti), all living in Treasure House.
On Oct. 3, 1955 (Mon.) the children's variety show The Mickey Mouse Club debuts on ABC-TV (until 1959); Mouseketeers incl. Annette, Bobbie, Cheryl, Cubby, Darlene, Doreen, Karen, Sharon, Tommy, and adults (Moosketeers) Roy Williams (1907-76) (Big Moosketeer) ("300 lbs. of walking pixie") (a personal friend of Walt Disney, who came up with the idea of putting mouse ears on hats), and MC James Wesley "Jimmie" Dodd (1910-64) (Musical Moosketeer), composer of the theme "The Mickey Mouse Club March"; Latvian-Lithuanian descent physicist Julius Sumner Miller (1909-87) plays Professor Wonderful.
On Oct. 16. 1958 the British children's show Blue Peter debuts on BBC-TV (until ?), named after the British Navy's Blue Peter flag, which is raised when a ship is about to leave; presenters incl. Yvette Paula Fielding (1968-), who becomes their youngest presenter at age 17.
In 1958 after MGM shuts down its cartoon studio, where they produced 114 episodes of Tom and Jerry since 1940, William Denby "Bill" Hanna (1910-2001) and Joseph Roland "Joe" Barbera (1911-2006) set up their own film studio to produce TV cartoon series hits, starting with Huckleberry Hound and Friends (1958-62), Yogi Bear (1958-61), Quick Draw McGraw (1959-66), The Flintstones (1960-66), The Jetsons (1962-3), and Scooby-Doo (1969-).
On Nov. 19, 1959 the animated TV series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (Rocky and His Friends), created by J. Troplong "Jay" Ward (1920-89) and his childhood friend Alexander Hume "Alex" Anderson Jr. (1920-2010) (nephew of Terrytoons creator Paul Terry), and writer William John "Bill" Scott (1920-85) (voice of Mr. Peabody the supergenius dog and George of the Jungle) debuts on ABC-TV (until June 27, 1964 after switching to NBC-TV in 1961), starring Rocky the Flying Squirrel and bullwinkle the Moose, who fight bad spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale; supporting segments incl. "Dudley Do-Right", "Fractured Fairy Tales", and "Peabody's Improbable History" (by "Hazel" creator Ted Key); it switches to color in 1961; after moving back to ABC-TV in 1964, it is cancelled within a year, but goes into syndication, becoming a perennial hit.
On Sept. 30, 1960 Hanna-Barbera's animated prime time TV series The Flintstones debuts on ABC-TV (until Apr. 1, 1966), about "modern" working class Stone Age couple Fred and Wilma Flintstone in Bedrock and their friends Barney and Betty Rubble, becoming the most successful animated network series until "The Simpsons" in 1989l later babies Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm-Bamm Rubble make their debut; during the end credits pet saber-toothed cat Baby Puss throws Fred out of the house.
On Oct. 2, 1960 (Sun.) Warner Bros.' half-hour animated anthology series The Bugs Bunny Show debuts on ABC-TV (until Sept. 2000 after switching to CBS-TV in 1967-73 and 1975-85), featuring "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" cartoons; in 1962 it switches to Sat. mornings.
On Oct. 15, 1960 (Sat.) the animated series King Leonardo and His Short Subjects debuts on NBC-TV for 102 episodes (until Sept. 28, 1963), about King Leonardo of Bongo Congo and his asst. skunk Odie O. Cologne; his rival is his maneless beatnik brother Itchy Brother, who works for Biggie Rat with the help of evil German inventor Prof. Messer and Odie's sister Carlotta.
On Nov. 7, 1960 (Mon.) the animated series Mister Magoo debuts on NBC-TV for 130 episodes (until Aug. 28, 1961), starring Jim Backus as nearsighted wealthy short Quincy Magoo, who refuses to admit his sight problem but always lucks out and gets out of every predicament.
On Jan. 30, 1961 Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series The Yogi Bear Show debuts in syndication for 33 episodes (until Jan. 6, 1962), starring Yogi Bear (voiced by Daws Butler, who tries to impersonate Art Carney), who lives in Jellystone Park and likes to steal picnic baskets, and his sidekick Boo-Boo Bear (voiced by Don Messick), who try to evade Ranger Smith (voiced by Don Messick); Yogi's babe is Cindy Bear (voiced by Julie Bennett); features the segments "Snagglepuss" and "Yakky Doodle".
On Sept. 27, 1961 Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series Top Cat debuts on ABC-TV for 30 episodes (until Apr. 18, 1962), starring Top Cat ("T.C.)", leader of a gang of alley cats in Hoagy's Alley in Manhattan, N.Y. incl. Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo.
On Oct. 4, 1961 the animated series The Alvin Show debuts on CBS-TV for 26 episodes (until Sept. 12, 1962), starring Alvin the Chipmunk and his friends Simon and Theodore, along with their manager David "Dave" Seville; features the segment "Clyde Crashcup".
On Sept. 3, 1962 Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series Wally Gator debuts on ABC-TV for 52 episodes (until Aug. 30, 1963), starring Cajun alligator Wally Gator (voiced by Daws Butler, who is trying to impersonate Ed Wynn), and Mr. Twiddle the Zookeeper (voiced by Don Messick).
On Sept. 8, 1962 Terrytoons' animated series Deputy Dawg debuts on CBS-TV for 34 episodes (until May 25, 1963), about Fla. deputy sheriff Deputy Dawg (voiced by Dayton Allen), and "varmints" Muskie Muskrat, Moley Mole, Possible Possum, Ty Coon, Vincent van Gopher, and Pig Newton.
On Sept. 23, 1962 Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series The Jetsons animated series debuts on ABC-TV for 24 episodes (until Mar. 17, 1963), becoming its first color program; George and Jane, Judy and Elroy, Astro the dog, and Rosie the robot maid in Orbit City in 2062; 40-y.-o. George works a typical 2-day 2-hour workweek for boss Cosmo Spacely, owner of Spacely Space Sprockets, whose competitor is H.G. Cogswell of Cogswell's Cosmic Cogs; Rosie is the ultimate development of the vacuum cleaner?
On Sept. 28, 1963 (Sat.) the animated series Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales debuts on CBS-TV for ? episodes (until Sept. 3, 1966) as a sequel to "King Leonardo", starring Tennessee Tuxedo the Penguin (voided by Don Adams) and his best friend Chumley the Walrus (voiced by Bradley Bolke), who live at the Magapolis Zoo run by dir. Stanley Livingstone (voiced by Mort Marshall) and his asst. Flunky (voiced by kenny Delmar) after being discovered by Stanley at the South Pole, fighting gangster Rocky Maninoff (voiced by jackson Beck), who orders the "bo-bos" what to do at the point of his "violin".
In 1963 Filmation Associates' animated series Rod Rocket debuts in syndication for 130 episodes, starring boy Rod Rocket and his best friend Joey (both voiced by Sam Edwards), who are sent by Prof. Argus (voiced by Hal Smith) to explore space in their spaceship Little Argo, where they encounter two bumbling Soviet cosmonauts.
On Jan. 14, 1964 the Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series The Magilla Gorilla Show debuts for 31 episodes (until 1964), about bow tie and suspenders-wearing Magilla Gorilla, who lives in Melvin Peebles' pet shop where nobody wants to buy him while he consumes his bananas; features Punkin' Puss, Mushmouse, Ricochet Rabbit, and Droop-a-Long, along with the Peter Potamus Show; after customers purchase him at discount prices then soon return him, each episode ends with "We'll try again next week".
On Sept. 18, 1964 (Fri.) the animated sci-fi Hanna-Barbera series Jonny Quest (based on the 007 flick "Dr. No") debuts on ABC-TV for 26 episodes (until Mar. 11, 1965), starting out a hit then getting cancelled after one season, when it goes into syndication and going the "Star Trek" route of continued popularity until new episodes are produced in 1986.
On Sept. 25, 1965 (Sat.) the animated series The Beatles debuts on ABC-TV for 39 episodes (until May 9, 1969), depicting the Beatles in their moptop-and-suit look, with each episode named after a Beatles song, and the story based on the lyrics with the tune played sometime during the episode; the voices of John and George are provided by Solomon Hersh "Paul" Frees (1920-86), and the voices of Paul and Ringo are provided by John Lancelot Blades "Lance" Percival (1933-2015).
On Feb. 19, 1968 the daytime children's show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood debuts on PBS (until Aug. 31, 2001), starring Fred McFeely Rogers (1928-2003) (who started the show in 1963 in Toronto, Ont., Canada as "Misterogers", followed on May 25, 1967 on WQED Pittsburgh), becoming famous for beginning each show with the song It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and asking "Won't you be my neighbor?" while donning a sweater and changing into sneakers, then talking to the Land-of-Make-Believe puppets.
On Sept. 14, 1968 (Sat.) as a fitting touche to the anti-materialistic Woodstock crowd, The Archie Show debuts on CBS-TV for 17 episodes (until Aug. 30, 1969), featuring the fictional rock band The Archies, who go on to have a string of hits that launches the Bubblegum Music craze (ends 1972). Their biggest hit is Sugar, Sugar, sung by Ron Dante (Carmine Granito) (1945-), released on July 26, 1969, which becomes the #1 single of 1969 in the U.S. and U.K. After the show folds in one season, it spawns Sat. morning spinoff shows until 1978. In 1969 Dante also has a hit with Tracy under the name The Cuff Links.
On Nov. 10, 1969 the Children's Television Workshop's educational daytime TV program Sesame Street debuts in the U.S. on PBS-TV (until ?), starting a rev. in childhood learning by teaching preschoolers letters and numbers and inculcating racial tolerance; producer Joan Ganz Cooney (1929-) is backed by the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corp., and the U.S. Office of Education; Jim Henson's Muppets debut, incl. Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, the Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie (named after chars. in the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life"), and Grover; Big Bird is designed by Kermit Ernest Hollingshead Love (1916-2008), known for designing the 28-ft. marionette giant for Don Quixote (1965); Kermit the Frog is named for Henson's childhood friend Theodore Kermit Scott Jr. (1936-2008); Kermit's theme song is (It's Not Easy) Bein' Green, by Joseph Guilherme "Joe" Raposo Jr. (1937-89); the series goes on to reach an audience of 235M in 85 countries; James Earl Jones (1931-) is the first guest celeb.; in 1979 Saudi Arabia bans the Muppets because Miss Piggy violates their halal food code.
On Mar. 1, 1980 the children's TV series Strawberry Shortcake debuts for 50 episodes (until 1983), designed in 1977 by Am. Greetings employee Muriel Fahrion for greeting cards; her cat is named Custard; Strawberry Shortcake Toys are marketed by Kenner.
On Sept. 12, 1981 (Sat.) Hanna-Barbera Productions' animated series The Smurfs debuts on NBC-TV for 256 episodes (until Dec. 2, 1989), based on the Belgian comic series created by Peyo, featuring Papa Smurf, and Nanny Smurf and their 99 kids, incl. Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smuf, Jokey Smuf, Chef Smurf, Pansy Smurf, Baby Smurf, Dreamy Smurf, Greedy Smurf, Harmony Smurf, Vanity Smurf, Marco Smurf, Tracker Smurf, Sneaky Smurf, Spy Smurf, Stinky Smurf, Smurfette, Grouchy Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Angel Smurf, Natural Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Natural Smurf , Natural "Nat" Smurfling, Slouchy Smufling, Snappy Smurfling, Enchanted Omnibus, King Gerard, Grako (The Magic Fountain), Father Time, Woody, Azrael, and Chorhydris (My Smurfy Valentine).
In May 1984 Kevin Brooks Eastman (1962-) and Peter Alan Laird (1954-) pub. Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles, a B&W comic book about radioactive "mutigant" turtles Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, who were trained by a rat sensei in the art of ninjutsu, and live in the sewers of New York City, battling crime while hiding from society; takes off after a UPI story turns on Playmates Toys, who in 1988 licenses Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys, reaching $1B in sales by 1990, along with a CBS-TV show (debuts Dec. 28, 1987) and a 1990 film that does $250M box office.
On Sept. 13, 1986 (Sat.) Pee-Wee's Playhouse debuts on CBS-TV on Saturday mornings for 46 episodes (until July 27, 1991), starring has-to-be-Jewish Paul Reubens (Rubenfeld) (1952-) (the reductio ad absurdem of the Beatles?), featuring cool props incl. Magic Screen, Chairy, Conky the Robot, Pterry the Baby Pteranodon, and Jambi the Genie (played by John Paragon) (known for the soundbyte: "Mecca lecca hi, mecca lecca lo, meeca hiney ho"), along with cool regulars incl. Miss Yvonne (played by Lynne Marie Stewart), Reba the Mail Lady (played by S. Epatha Merkerson), Captain Carl (played by Phil Hartman), and Cowboy Curtis (played by Laurence Fishburne); the theme song is sung by Cyndi Lauper; originally aimed at kids, it becomes an adult and cult favorite also, spawning a line of Pee-Wee's Playhouse Toys; too bad, his arrest in July 1991 in Sarasota, Fla. in a porno house causes CBS to stop airing the super-popular reruns; "I know you are, but what am I?"
On Aug. 11, 1991 the Rugrats animated series debuts on Nickelodian for 172 episodes (until June 8, 2004), created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, and Paul Germain, about toddlers Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica.
On Aug. 28, 1993 the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series debuts on Fox TV for 145 episodes (until Nov. 27, 1995), produced by Egyptian-born pro-Israel Israeli-Am. billionaire Haim Saban (1944-), based on the japanese TV series "Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger", set in Angel Grove, Calif. about two astronauts who discover a container from outer space and release evil alien sorceress Rita Repulsa after 10K years of confinement, planning on conquering Earth, causing wise alien sage Zordon and his robotic asst. Alpha 5 to select five "teenagers with attitude" to save it, incl. Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan, and Billy Cranston, giving them super powers and colossal Zord assault machines, which can combine into the Megazord; spawns the film "Mighty Morphon Power Rangers: The Movie" (1995), plus a line of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Toys.