Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Atlanta TV Kids' Hosts in the 1960s

If there's something I truly miss about "living in the future" it's all the old 1960s local LIVE television shows. Back then nearly every venue had a "host" of some kind. Even the afternoon movie (a "Dialing for Dollars" feature) had a local personality associated with it. Regrettably this post doesn't feature all of those nearly-forgotten TV mavericks... just the ones I can personally remember at this point.

Bestoink Dooley
I grew up hearing the name Bestoink Dooley more than I remember actually seeing him. (Though I do have a clear memory of my dad running over to the TV and pointing him out to the family when he was doing a live remote segment when I was about four --or roughly in about 1966) Bestoink Dooley (who is in reality, an actor --and later Atlanta theater owner-- George Ellis), had been the host of the Friday night "Big Movie Shocker" on WAGA-TV5 in Atlanta for some time by that point. They showed a lot of the original Shock Theater package which included many of the 30's and 40's movies from the Universal Horror Canon. It proved to be so popular that a second programming block was added on Saturday afternoons. For a short time there was even an afternoon half hour show called "Dooley and Co." where Bestoink dropped the horror schitck in favor of comedy and showed 3 Stooges shorts. A taped segment from Detroit (featuring another Horror host "Morgus" as a gonzo weatherman) also helped add to the silliness.

In 1965 Bestoink Dooley starred in his very own mega-low budget horror vehicle The Legend of Blood Mountain (aka Blood Mountain --and known even in the 1980s as Demon Hunter).
The flyer pictured below reveals that the movie was featured (briefly) at Atlanta's own Starlight Drive-In, which at that time was just a two screen ozoner.
According to Mark Durrett's "CONFIDENTIAL" blog:
I remember the hoopla well. It premiered on a Wednesday and closed on Saturday. That was a good booking in those days. By then, I was working at the Emory Theatre. We were awarded the film second run. It opened on that Sunday and closed Tuesday, very possibly utilizing the Starlight's show print. The single week of engagements in a few neighborhood hardtops and drive-ins was the bulk of the metro area exposure.

The film was primarily shot in and around Stone Mountain park just east of Atlanta. I'd heard about this movie for years, and having started my animation career at Stone Mountain's Lasershow (from 1986 to 1988 --If you ever saw the carving "come to life" in laser animation, I did the majority of that sequence) I was more than a little interested in seeing it. I finally did get a chance, just in the past couple of months, and wow! What a stinker-roo! For a short movie it could not possibly be more padded. LONG sequences of Bestoink doing...well, absolutely nothing. Walking here and there. Driving from place to place. In one extended scene Bestoink prepares for bed. He puts on his jammies. He brushes his teeth. Then he gets into bed with a glass of milk and a big plate of chocolate-chip cookies. He flips on the radio to an easy listening station... and then the viewer is treated to unblinking transfixed horror, as Bestoink settles back and proceeds --in very nearly "real-time", to consume the entire plate of cookies and drink the whole glass of milk. Unreal.
I had always heard that this was the first real "Bigfoot" movie ever made. Well, turns out, it doesn't even have that going for it. [SPOILER ALERT] -The monster, when it FINALLY turns up, looks like a shirtless 20-something-year old wearing monster make-up appliances and mostly painted green. Looks like he's also wearing some fuzzy pants and boots (also sprayed green) with a couple of rubber tentacles thrown in on both sides at the belt-line level. Pfft.. Some Bigfoot. When the film boils down to the "monster" chasing a spats-wearing Bestoink back and forth through the woods at O.J. Bronco equivalent speeds while 1950s music tracks (that were probably last heard in H-B's Snooper and Blabber cartoons) play overly loud on the soundtrack, it's REALLY all over...

Tubby and Lester

In the 1960's, WQXI channel 11 (the ABC affiliate at that time) was generally considered to be the crappiest of the "big three" Atlanta network stations. In the mid-sixties they unashamedly presented a late-nite programming block called the "World's Worst Movie" (Hell, even into the late 70s channel 11 would show a movie in a 90 minute time slot and just leave a reel out --usually the second or third-- to make the fit. Several influential movies I saw that way for the first time, too. Argh... they showed the best bad Horror and Sci-Fi!) The movie was hosted by a guy who was dressed up like a bad movie director (not that unlike "Director Jethro" on the Beverly Hillbillies) with stereotypical bad-director flair; jodhpurs, a megaphone, and a beret. Okay, now get this... This "bad director" host was a fella named Bob Corley. Not only was he the brain trust behind the Bad-movie block, he was ALSO the writer of the (above) Bestoink Dooley low-energy train wreck "Blood Mountain". Given these credentials, I was still surprised to find out that he was ALSO the "creative genius" behind another 1960s channel 11 offering, The Tubby and Lester show (a rather shameless rip-off of 1930s comedy team Laurel and Hardy right down to their costumes). Tubby and Lester was a plodding kids' show that ran in the early morning for 90 minutes daily from 7:30 to 9:oo am.

The Tubby and Lester segments were generally padded bad live set-bound schtick that ultimately served as segues for new Dick Tracy and old Mr. Magoo cartoons. The show, as I'm told, was usually taped in the afternoon and then shown the next morning. There were three rows of bleacher-type seating for the local kids in attendance that day --moms and dads sat in another room with a monitor and a big window that faced the set. As with a lot of kid's shows back then, most of the attendees were either in the boy (or girl) scouts or celebrating birthdays. (My mother-in-law tells me it was pretty easy to get booked on the show in those days...)
Their set was much like a club or playhouse and they would kill time s-l-o-w-l-y since they were filling 450 minutes a week. Most of the time these sketches were accompanied by the routine playing of Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" from Hatari. According to Mike Durrett, the sketches would usually run so long that the music would finish and fade to silence in the middle of their schtick. Then after a few seconds of dead air the control room would start the music over and the bumbling would go on and on.
One regular segment asked viewers to mail in riddles for Tubby and Lester to read on the air. They did... and when they delivered the punchlines, familiar female laughter would echo through the set. This voice was always referred to as "The riddle ghost". Oftimes when skits or projects would start to go south the mocking riddle ghost laugh could be heard --solely to antagonize those who were "muddling through" on camera. At least those parts had the potential to be funny, and sometimes they genuinely were.

My wife remembers this from her experiences appearing on Tubby and Lester:

"The first time I went I think I was with my Girl Scout troop. The second time was for my birthday. There was a birthday window that they would lift you through while announcing your age. I still remember how they walked me around to the back of the set before I was lifted through.
At times, Lester would go off stage into a "closet" to get prizes. On TV he would just go off camera, and you would hear a great big racket and then he would stumble back out with the prize. When I was on the show I remember watching Lester go off stage into the closet and expected to see him do a prat fall or similar shenanigans. I had a clear view of him as he just walked over and banged a trash can lid and made some other noises, then he turned and staggered back on stage with prizes in hand. That's the first time I realized that sometimes TV lied".

A few years ago at Turner I had the chance to talk to a fella in his fifties named Don that had worked on the Tubby and Lester show. He was a fountain of information on the subject. Unfortunately, not long after I met him, the AOL/Time Warner merger came down and he like so many folks who had been with Turner for years and years at that point was cut loose. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I was in virtual "production hell" at the time and I didn't have the chance to write down anything he had said. As a result I don't remember either of the actors names, but I believe he said that the guy who played Tubby had since passed on, and the fella who played Lester was at that time working in a book store. Rest assured, If I get an update or correction on this info I will post it here.

Officer Don and Orville the Dragon: WSB's "The Popeye Club"

If you lived in Atlanta in the 1960s you knew what "Officer Don and the Popeye Club" meant.

Starting in the late 1956,
The Clubhouse Gang as it was originally called began airing in the afternoons on WSB TV. The show was created after a program director for WSB went to New York and witnessed the success a sister station was having with an afternoon program called Officer Joe Bolton that had a "cop" host and showed old Little Rascals shorts. When she returned to Atlanta she attempted to draft unwilling booth announcer and station clown Don Kennedy to be Atlanta's own answer to the kid-programming-equation, Officer Don --the friendly cop on the beat. Don put up a fight, claiming not to like kids, but when threatened with unemployment he gave in. Officer Don was born and the Little Rascals shorts started rolling in the broadcast-area afternoons. If Don didn't like kids it never showed. He came off like a wacky uncle interacting with the kids and playing games like "musical chairs" or "untie the knot". Best remembered of these was the "Ooey-gooey game" which usually ended with Don or a kid blindfolded and sticking their hand into a bag of a mixture of egg-yolks and/or some other goo. (Surely the forerunner of "getting slimed") Don always referred to the small audience of boys-n-girls in attendance "gang" because originally, that's what they were...the Clubhouse Gang. In 1962 Clubhouse was briefly re-named Big Adventure then finally, The Popeye Club. It became the longest-running kid's show in Atlanta TV history (and the highest rated kid's show in the nation) and was an afternoon mainstay on WSB for a whopping 14 years total. At the rate of five a day over 18,000 cartoons were shown. The small studio audience tallies added up too... in all 110,00 kids saw Don and Orville live. "I saw you on the Popeye Club" was a familiar phrase at my and Atlanta area schools. The format that I remember with Orville the Dragon ran from 1962 to 1970. The show itself was shot live at the old "White Columns" building off Peachtree Street in Atlanta, and lucky kids who got to be on the show also got a tour of the studio. The show was originally broadcast in black and white, and the cartoons they showed were mostly Fleischer Popeyes, but by the mid-sixties WSB began broadcasting The 'Club in color and they switched to showing mostly (new) King Features Syndicate (and cheap) color cartoons made specifically for television like Krazy Kat, Snuffy Smith, and Beetle Bailey and of course Popeye. Speaking of color-- The Popeye Club proved so popular it was used as the testing ground by RCA for some of the very first color Television cameras.

Eh... A little history on the condition of this still...

Okay, so I personally was never on the Popeye Club, (though my wife got to do the cartoon countdown when she was a kid) but I still got to meet Don when I was about six when he was set up at a table in a Davis Bros Cafeteria in Atlanta. Sometimes, at the end of the show , Don would say something like "Remember folks, I'll be at the Davis Bros Cafeteria on West Paces Ferry road tonight from 7-9, so c'mon by and say hello!" One Thursday night I got to do just that. My folks met some friends of theirs for dinner and we drove the 10 miles or so to the restaurant. I still remember seeing Don through the window as we were walking up to the cafeteria and starting to hyperventilate... (I'd never met anybody off TV before!) After dinner I walked over with my mom to get his autograph and he boomed "What's your name there big fella?" I said Clay, but in true Charlie Brown fashion my mouth was dry and my voice came out in barely more than a whisper. "Craig?" He asked, starting to write --as I was shaking my head no. "Okay Craig! Here ya go, Craig! Thanks Craig! Nice meetin' ya Craig!" Before I knew what happened we were back at our table and I was staring at the 8 x 10 of Officer Don and Orville that said "Hi, Craig!" on it. And before I could talk my mom into going back and getting another one ol' Don packed up and left. I was in shock for a week or two then I guess I snapped and drew all over it. Some of the details included wolfman hair for Don, an arrow in his neck and a little C-5A (that my dad had worked on at Lochkeed) about to crash into his temple. Then I discovered in my "photoshopping" that the ink Don used to write "Craig" with would actually erase! O' course it took a lot of the photo with it... but hell! I erased everything but the "C" and then finished it out the name correctly. Ahh...the things you learn at six. I shoulda just done that in the first place. But now, since the right name was being said "Hi" to, my eh..."artistic commentary" made little sense --so I erased it all too ...and part of Don's face to boot... which I then tried to draw back in. Hoo-boy. (Kids!) I never held the gaffe against Don though (I stayed a fan to the end). If anything I held it against myself for acting like a six year old.

Don has had a full career outside of the spotlight. He was one of the original owners of WKLS, a longtime Atlanta radio station. He's the "K", and the L and the S represented the other two owners. For years Don has hosted a popular syndicated vintage music radio show called Big Band Jump which is heard on nearly 200 stations across America.

In the mid 1990s I wound up being fortunate enough to actually work with Mr. Kennedy on some Space Ghost Coast to Coast episodes and then later on The Brak Show. (He actually replaced me on Space Ghost doing Tansut's voice --which I was fine with-- and did a much better job with it than I would have, basically just by being Don) He was and is overall an old pro. A consummate professional who always willing to do whatever insane thing the Space Ghost writers could come up with. But whatever it was, he'd always do it his way, and it was always funny and it always worked.
On the Space Ghost related Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Don found more on-camera work playing some live-action characters in movies that the food team would watch on TV. One was "Assisted-living Dracula" which chronicled Dracula's antics in an old-folk home, and the other featured Don as a "Vegetable-Man" who jumped out at people from a late-night grocery store vegetable display.

Don's sidekick, a Dragon puppet named Orville proved to be almost as popular. By the mid-60s Orville got his own gig on the side too, hosting episodes of Buck Rogers and other Space ilk on Saturday mornings. Orville was owned and operated by a young puppeteer named Terry Kelley who was just fifteen when he got the job. Orville's inclusion to The Popeye Club mix was almost by accident. Terry was doing a puppet show in downtown Atlanta and had his mom drive him to the WSB studios so he could plug his show on the air. The reaction to Orville was overwhelming and he started appearing on a regular basis. Three days a week at first, and expanded to five soon after. The Orville puppet itself saw so much use that it had to be replaced five times in eight years because the flex point on the mouths kept wearing out. Arguably, it was the Officer Don-Orville dynamic that solidified the show and gave it staying power. There were lots of kids shows on the air in those days but to my knowledge none of them featured the team of a gullible policeman and a dragon the size of a wiener-dog. (That's the kind of entertainment vehicle you have to just wind up with --or evolve into-- rather than to set out to achieve. You try different things on the air... you keep what works.)

Here's my 1968 drawing of Orville --It's actually on the back of my much-maligned Officer Don 8 x 10. (I think I'd just started using colors for outlines around that time after my observation that "real things" didn't have black outlines around them.)

There's also a few shows I remember that there's just no love or info for...
Even though this one's from the '70's I still gotta mention

Buddy Farnan's Magic Funnies (WTCG Channel 17 Atlanta weekday afternoons at 3:30)

"Woo-hoo! Gotta get my Wacky Packs down at the stoe and run home to watch Buddy Farnan's Magic Funnies!" Odds are, that I probably said that sentence at some point.
Buddy Farnan was a magician who had made quite a name for himself in the Chicagoland area, and he was becoming more nationally famous by the early 1970s.
(That's him in the middle of the above pic. It's not from the "Magic Funnies" show... but depressingly it's the only shot of him I could find.) For about a year in the early 1970s he had a half-hour(?) show in Atlanta where he would show cartoons and do magic tricks. Usually at the beginning and end of a segment he would blink in and out of the scene (via crappy chroma-key and an even crappier synthesizer wowmp sound effect)
He'd also say some "zany" magic words while doing his tricks like "Hokus-pokus, fish bones choke us!" While he always seemed a nice enough guy, he was always green-screened, parts of "the act" would often disappear when the script didn't call for it, leaving kids at home scratching their heads. I think he also had some kind of magic kit out that a friend of mine owned around that time.

What are your memories of Kids' Hosted TV? Feel free to post them here as comments!

Thanks and kudos for this post goes out to Don Kennedy, George Ellis, Terry Kelley, Mike Durrett, Tubby, Lester, Jackie & April Stephens, Cartoon Network & Buddy Farnan.

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Blogger Robert Pope said...

Having moved here in '86, I remember NONE of this...but supercool nonetheless, and of course now I'm thinking fondly of Charleston's own "Ashley Ghastley," who hosted the lowcountry's Saturday night spookshow on Channel 5 and even branched out to show Beach Blanket movies and Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials on Saturday afternoon!

2:10 PM

Blogger Susskins said...

Sioux Falls, SD had "Captain 11", a faux Captain Video complete with goofy hat and spinning hypno-symbols on the control panel set. Showed cartoons, had a small audience of children, drew names to pick the keys to try and open the Toy Chest, and was generally a big lug. (In his off-hours, he was Dave Dedrik, the weatherman.)

I loved it, of course.

11:50 PM

Anonymous Steve Carroll said...

I was actually on an epsisode of the Popeye Club when I was 6 and was so terribly disappointed that Officer Don wasn't there that day. However, his substitute was none other than Buddy Farnan. I still felt totally ripped off, but at least I did get a plastic Donald Duck filled with candy for my trouble.

My sister was on with me and the big deal in our family was that they did one of their unannounced full screen zooms in on her as they segued into a cartoon. I had completely forgotten about Tubby and Lester though!

What about Mr. Pix?

3:20 PM

Blogger C. Martin Croker said...

Good question.
I had wanted to include "Mr Pix" in this post, but in the places I checked there's ZERO information available about this show. I CAN say that "Mr Pix" was a kids show that aired on WAGA TV5 in the mornings(?) during the late 1960s. The bow-tie wearing "Mr Pix" (no clue about the name) was none-other than long-time Atlanta newscaster Dave Michaels. Dave was an anchor at Channel 11, (by then WXIA) in the late 70s around the time the "11 Alive" news theme they were using was a Wendy Carlos riff right off the "Clockwork Orange" soundtrack. The main things I remember about The "Mr Pix" show was that it was the first Atlanta venue to regularly show those horrible 1960s color "remakes" of old black & white Warner Bros cartoons-- That, and the bump-n-go turn-of-the-century toy locomotive moved around on the floor of the set they always showed during the shows' ending credits.
The only other info I have on that show was offered by the Book Nook's own David T. Lindsay. He said a friend of his had appeared on both "The Popeye Club" and on the "Mr. Pix" program and reported back: "Well, Officer Don was great...He acted like an uncle --like he loved us... But Mr. Pix, he screamed at everybody and acted like he HATED us! He yelled at me to SIT DOWN!!"

So, that's not much to go on...but the latter info might actually go a long way to explain why.

3:54 PM

Anonymous Cousin Debra said...

Surprise! It's been a long time. Just want to say I really enjoy your blog. Do you remember Jack and the Beanstork-- "and he smite him with mighty blows about the head..."

3:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

my mother just gave me a tubby and lester show postcard they they signed for me august 8th 1980 in covington, ga.. i was only 7 years old but I still remember that day.
the picture on the postcard is the same as what i just saw here on your web-site with lester pointing to a record album that tubby is holding.

4:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My earliest Atlanta TV memory was the Woody Willow Show. He was a puppet much like Howdy Doody.
"Hail hail the gangs all here
Time for Woody Willow
Time for Woody Willow"
He had a girl friend named Theresa Termite. Pretty freudian, eh?
Also there was the Miss Boo show. She lived in her cave which wa a big cardboard box with her pet dinosaur, Fang(you never saw him.) Mostly, she read letters from fans.

4:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sirs,
I have been looking for something on this character for about 5 years. I didnt know how to spell Bestoink Dooley LOL. The "Big Movie Shocker" was the highlight of my week. It started 1957/59. The first movie was "Rodan", it was a Japanese-sci-fi-monster movie. "Rodan" was a pre-historic flying dinosaur that was awakened from its hybernation by excavation. It would come on every friday night on WAGA tv. I'll always remember the sports segment preceeded the "Big Movie Shocker". I remember the sportcaster was named Ed Thelenias (sp?),and a very comely Coach Friday. She was mainly eye-candy, she dressed in a chearleader uniform. This segment came just before the movie and I always watched it just before the "Big Movie Shocker Show". This brings back so many good memories. Back in the 60's the local new paper never said what the name of the was going to be, which added to the anticipation. I remember sitting in my room in the dark watching my black-n-white TV,watching "Count Dracula", "The Mummy" "Frankenstien Monster" "Wolfman", the classics. Frankly they would show some crappy, cheap Non-Universal movies sometimes, but that was part of the charm. One of my fondest memories in 1964 was we had just moved into a new house. My bedroom was the hall from the kitchen; during commerical breaks I would go the kitchen,make popcorn, and run back to the bedroom. I would have to go by this open door that led to the dining room, and I always was afraid of someone reaching out the room and grabbing me, but that added to the thrill. I would hunker down in my bed with a cold drink, a bowl of buttered popcorn watching the classic horror-movies. Being there in the dark with the TV on,it felt like I was the only person in the world. At one point they started re-broadcasting the same movies the following saturday--it was not nearly the same. There was too many people around and too bright, I couldnt capture the mood of friday night. I would watch the movies religiously every friday night until the series stopped. And then I started watching the tonight show,and it wasnt near as interesting('65-'66).

In addition I got a chance to meet George Ellis. I was in Atlanta in 1981, I had just began attending Life Chiropractic College(Im now a practing Chiropractor in Clayton County). My wife and I were going the Ansley Mall theatre to see the new Star Trek movie that was released in 1979. We went into the gloomy lobby towards a man sitting behind a table taking money for tickets. As I approached him I involitaryly pointed my hand and shouted in a loud voice "YOU'RE BESTIONK DOOLEY!". He was very gracious, but seem embarrased from the attention I was showing him. All of a sudden I became a 7 y.o. slobbering kid at that point. I told him how I loved his movies and appreciated him. That will stand out as one of my peak experiences in my life.

I want to thank whoever moderates this forum for providing a place to share my memories to people of like intrests.

Thanks again,
Charles S. Watts D.C.

9:57 PM

Anonymous Greg G said...

Greg G here. I wanna thank you for publishing this outstanding retrospective...I found it quite fascinating even though I wasn't in the Atlanta area when I was a youth. Hey, I don't know if you have one of these or not, but I just landed a very cool Officer Don artifact, a 45 rpm recording of Don singing Ooey Gooey! Yes, it's as cool as it sounds and it's on the Officer Don record label to boot! Don't have your email address or I'd send you an mp3 for your listening pleasure. I can be reached at greg -at- atlantatimemachine.com. Let me know if you need an mp3.

10:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting information about the Tubby and Lester Show. I remember going to that set for my 5th birthday party and sitting on the top of a bunk bed when Tubby jumped on it and it crashed down, leaving me in pain as they laughed. I had given up finding information ont he show, but am curious where you got the picture from? I started a page on Wikipedia, would you mind addingthe photos and your story to the website page?

Thanks, Michael

5:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former resident of Atlanta, and I am one of the few individuals who appeared in ALL of the daytime children's shows. This was becuase my mother was a Advertising Copywriter/Account Rep for all threee TV stations during her life. One of the shows you forgot to mention was the "Billy Johnson Show", which ran on WAII channel 11. It was part of a franchised kid's show that was originally produced out of DC. In each city it was produced, you had to get a local actor who could relate well to kids and play the guitar and sing. I believe one of the actors who played "Billy" was Billy Joe Royal, a famous recording artist who recorded for Bill Lowery

Tubby of "Tubby and Lester" was Bob Granier. He was member of my church in North Atlanta and was the director of our church's community theatre program. He was terribly overweight, but the persona that he exhibited on TV was the same at church.

Buddy Farnan actually had a Saturday AM program on WSB that used the same set as the Popeye club. It was called "Buddy Farnan's Funtown Show", and it was sponsored by Funtown, a SE Atlanta amusement park that has long been closed. He eventually left TV and became a evangelical minister who used his magic to spread the "Good News".

1:15 PM

Anonymous Ned Hastings said...

Hey Clay! Wasn't it Mr. Pitts, and not Pix? My brother and sister went to that show and got his autograph. Dave Michaels' real name was Dave Pitts. I went to school in Sandy Springs with his son Mike Pitts, briefly. They were members of St. Jude Catholic Church.

As for Tubby and Lester, whenever we ate chicken pot pie my brother and I would wash out the little aluminum pie pans after we ate and then put them on our heads claiming that we looked like Tubby and Lester. I guess to our juvenile minds, the deep-dish mini pie pans resembled the bowler hats that they both wore. Ridiculous.

Does anyone remember a pair of rather frumpy, very southern women who hosted the weekday afternoon viewing on Atlanta's Channel 46 (now a Clear Station and Fox affiliate, but then a lowly UHF station) in the mid-to-late seventies. One had sort of frosty blonde hair, and the other had dark hair. I seem to remember that they wore yellow and/or red painter-style overalls and t-shirts and that they seemed way too old and mom-ish to be doing that particular gig.

They would do gags and silly stuff between shows and at commercial breaks. They were really annoying, but were a necessary evil if one wanted to watch the classic Spider-Man cartoon and "Batman" and "Battle of the Planets", which, of course, one always did.

Also, dude, when are you going to cover Channels 17's "Friday Night Frights" featuring The Southern Vampire?

1:38 PM

Blogger C. Martin Croker said...

Hey Ned,
Nope, Michaels/Pitt wasn't the only Mr. Pix... (In fact I think he was the second) so the character wasn't named for him.

You speak of Valerie and Ginger aka "The Good Time Gang" on Channel 46 (Back then WANX -- insane call letters for "your christian broadcasting station" which at the time, they were.) I think I remember hearing that they were first-grade teachers turned show hosts. If that was indeed the case, it sure makes sense. They both acted like they had spent way too much time around the very young, as that's how they seemed to relate to the world and even each other.
Valerie and Ginger were later joined by Bubba --a dingle-bob antennaed space-alien puppet with an eccentric, grating falsetto voice (supplied by part-time diminutive Ch 46 weatherman Denny Moore).
I have several Good Time Gang clips that I really need to put on YouTube soon.

Also...on the "Southern Vampire".

I watched Friday Night Frights somewhat religiously on WTCG (now TBS) in the 1970s. The mumbling, drawling bloodsucker (whose casket often sat on 2 sawhorses) name was "Dead Ernest" and he usually hosted not one but 2 movies every Friday.

A few years ago I started researching the various movie Horror Hosts from different cities,
but pretty much no information was available on WTCG's old vampire.

When I dug deeper I found out why.

The scuttlebutt is that Dead Ernest was none other than Ted Turner.

...the TED.

Yep, I found it hard to believe too, but consider this: I was working on "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" at the time this info came to light, and was friends with the folks running the Turner Library. I went down there and asked them if they could pull up ANYTHING related to old WTCG programming -- i.e.: Movie Hosts, Friday Night Frights, Dead Ernest, etc.

What did they find? Everything but. WTCG Newbreaks, episodes of the Bill Tush show, and a surprising amount of same-era 1970s programming... AND *ahem* --ABSOLUTELY NOTHING pertaining to Friday Night Frights or the undead entity known as Dead Ernest.

In fact the only thing that came up in cross-referencing the info was 13 episodes of "Super Scary Saturday" hosted by Al "Grandpa" Lewis from the mid 1980s --and by then those tapes were already in cold storage at the Turner salt mine location in Kansas City (--so rest assured, they'll be here long after we're gone).

All this lack of evidence left me to believe there just might be something to the story...

But I couldn't ballyhoo my "scoop" 'cause at the time Ted's name was still being stamped on my paycheck.

If anybody has any evidence to back this claim up -- or dispute it once and for all, I'd love to hear it...

Otherwise, there ya go.

3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Bwana Don - a Detroit area show syndicated to Atlanta? When I moved to Atlanta in 1963 it was a popular kid's show. His sidekick was a chimp named Bongo Bailey.

My cub scout troop was on the Popeye club in 1964- received a Beatles ring and the infamous coupon for ice cream (Atlanta Dairies)?

10:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being almost an Atlanta native i remember a lot of this stuff. Was onthe Popeve club twice and winning the "Simon says" game once . Also remember "Mr.Toymaker" who made things from the shirt carborad from dad's starched shirts , carborad tubes and clothespins. also had his own line of dogfood where you could save the labels and win gifts

3:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when we moved to Atlanta in 1966 I was 6 and my sister was 8.

We loved Popeye Club and called WSB for tickets and found out the waiting list was one year. We waited a year and got to go. It was really great. Officer Don would always joke about mashing the Hostess Cupcakes with the can of Orange Crush as he placed the items in the goodie bag as he described each item the kids would get that day.

Then shortly thereafter Mr Pix came on the air. We called for tickets and we got on the very next week!

We also went to Buddy Farnans Funtown on Saturday.......we also went to Funtown on Stewart avenue..it had a wild mouse roller coaster it was scary as hell there was no way i would go on that thing.......i remember a sign telling the riders of the Wild Mouse "no talking"

In2itiom, a kids saturday game show hosted by Dan Atkinson on WSB in the mid 70's, while not a kiddie show, is still worth remembering..........i remember it quite well as i was a contestant on the show. I won the day I was on and made it to the finals at the end of the season.

10:22 PM

Blogger RedElephant said...

I was on the Popeye Club for my 5th birthday in 1963! It was great! Iremember Buddy Farnan an his side-kick "Minnie Quarts" from Atlanta Dairies (though her calf Lotta Pints didn't make it on the show!). And also recall Mr. Pix. When the 11 Alive format was being promoted VERY heavily before it's debut in the 70s, they made a very big deal of the new news anchor but kept hsi identity a secret. I remember the very first 11 Alive newscast when it turned out to be Mr Pix (Dave Michaels)! Talk about laugh out loud!!!

10:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Atlanta native, growing up in the 50's and 60's, I have greatly enjoyed reading this post, reliving my two visits on the Popeye Club.

One show that was not mentioned that I vaguely remember visiting for my fourth birthday was the Skipper Ray Show. I have an old b/w photo of the entire "cast" (the kids) that day which also included one of my best friends who went with me to celebrate. Do you have any information on that one?

12:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How great to read these posts. A native Atlantan, I was on 'The Popeye Club,' 'Mr. Pix' and 'Tubby and Lester.' There was also a local edition of 'Romper Room' in the mornings, which I didn't appear on, though my sister did. I don't remember which channel showed it.And Dead Ernest kept me entertained on many a weekend, on Friday Night Frights. The previous post saying that Ernest was actually Ted Turner was news to me, but not really surprising if you stop and think about it.

Mr. Pix drew a picture for me, which I kept pinned to my bedroom wall for years. It seems like he also had a genie in a mirror, like the one years later on 'Pee Wee's Playhouse.' With Officer Don's show, the gimmick became sending in neckties for Orville to wear. I remember how elated I was the day I saw him wearing the one I sent in. At the time I visited 'Tubby & Lester,' there was an ongoing storyline, such as it was, that had them building a boat on their set. Hilarity and hijinx ensued.

On weekday afternoons, Channel 11 (I think) had 'Dialing for Dollars,' featuring schlock classics, and hosted by Freddy...something (anybody?) and a beauty-of-the-week to spin the Wheel of Fortune to show how much that day's lucky viewer won. There was a little scandal at my elementary school because the Beauty was supposed to be a single girl (this WAS the '60s) and one week, lo and behold, there was our MARRIED second grade teacher, Mrs. Wait, spinning the wheel. And whe WAS a looker....

I barely remember FunTown. Buddy Farnan had some association with it, I think. The opening of Six Flags sounded its death knell. For many years after, though, you could see its shuttered and deteriorating buildings off to the right of the I-85 as you headed to the airport.

I, too, was over the moon when I saw that 11-Alive's new news anchor in the mid-'70s was none other than Mr. Pix! That was enough to make me choose them to get my local news from, bad as it was. Though he was now calling himself Dave Michaels, to me he was and always would be Mr. Pix, and I was sticking with him!

Even now, whenever I hear Don Kennedy's voice, I'm taken back to a much simpler time, to White Columns and the Peanut Gallery, the Ooey Gooey bags and Clay's birthday party, Officer Don and Orville the Green Dragon. Thanks for the refresher, and the memories.

12:39 AM

Blogger SherriC said...

I am an Atlanta native and was on "The Popeye Club" in 1966. I also remember going to Funtown when I was little...it was actually sort of on the decline then.

Thanks for bringing back so many memories.

3:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dialing for Dollars host was Freddy Miller, who also hosted Live Atlanta Wrestling. One of their sponsors was the Armstrong Slip Cover Company, which had an ad showing kids jumping up and down and spilling stuff on a sofa covered in a clear plastic slip cover. What class.

9:17 PM

Anonymous Neil Russell said...

Freddy Miller is the name "anonymous" is looking for. He hosted "Dialing for Dollars" at Channel 11 (WAII at the time) and also hosted the live wrestling held in the studios there at 1611 West Peachtree.

My dad was an audio engineer at 11 for years and I got to visit the studios on a frequent basis, I even used to get to sit in the newsroom set to make it look populated during newscasts on the weekends.

Anyone remember an experiment that Channel 5 did to make black and white tvs appear to be in color? The only reference I can find to it is an ad with Don Barber (another long time Atlanta TV host) from 1963 saying it was coming. Never found out what it was and I didn't know about it when I knew Barber.

Ted Turner as Dead Ernest? Wow, I guess he could have been. I know of one story where he challenged his poker buddies that for $10 he'd climb the tower.

Back then anything was possible at WTCG. My dad worked there too along with Gene Wright, Jack Verner, Bill Tullis and a lot of other WXIA alums.

I went to Techwood in 1981 to work for the then-new radio net and bid goodbye to Atlanta in 1985, but I sure miss all the memories. Glad you put this site together.

5:33 PM

Blogger tvgirl said...

Do you remember the Skipper ray show on TV 11 atlanta, it was changed to the Officer Don?

7:29 PM

Blogger Beth said...

I have lived in Atlanta all my life. Around the early to mid 60's, there was a black and white show that came on, I think on Saturday mornings. I remember a man driving what I recall as a mail truck or milk truck, and he would say something along the lines of..."I am the funny man".... I can't find anyone who remembers this, but I know I am not imagining it. Does anyone recall a show like this? I don't know if it was local or otherwise.

7:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your discussion of Officer Don's sidekick is fairly accurate as I know it except for the spelling: it is ORVIL, not ORVILLE. You mentioned that Terry was quite young and this is how he thought the name was spelled. (Note the autographed picture of Orvil)

2:43 PM

Blogger mike weber/fairportfan said...

I dunno. I suppose Dead Ernest *could* have been The Ted, but the tone poster-size still of him i saw when i was attending Georgia Tech in the '70s (as i recall it) didn't look much like Ted.

I had heard that he was Bill Tush.

Too bad George Ellis is gone - i bet he'd know.

Incidentally - i'm pretty sure that Steve Whitmire, the current voice of Kermit the Frog, did puppet stuff on Channel 36 in the early-to-mid 70s; i know he worked for the Kroffts at Six Flags and in the "World of Sid and Marty Krofft".

2:16 PM

Anonymous A said...

You made a comment on 'The Goodtime Gang'...I remember them well, having spent the mid 70's to mid 80's watching cartoons. They would spin a wheel and award prizes to the kids, like the 'Cosmic Liquidator' squirt gun. Also, I seem to remember an occasional talent-show segment...one kid got on camera with no shirt and wearing a pharoah headress, and did a lip-synch to Steve Martin's 'King Tut' song. It was more than a little creepy. PLEASE post ANY Good Time Gang clips you have!

Also, I remember there was a show in the afternoons on either 17 or 69 (WVEU) called the Metalshop, where some long-haired metalhead (who went by the name 'The Butcher') would announce cartoons and even Spectreman (or was it the Space Giants?).

Also, there was a guy on channel 30 who called himself 'Captain 3-0' and always wore a 1930's pilots leather helmet and goggles & a cape and posed in front of a wooden cutout of a biplane. He preached against the Crummy TV Blob, and if you sent him a letter, you got a plastic cape and an autographed picture in the mail...so of course my brother and I signed up everyone we didn't like.


5:08 PM

Blogger Todd Merriman said...

I was born in 1948 and grew up in Marietta with the Popeye Club. Officer Don Kennedy helped my high school band raise money to take a trip to Toronto when I was in the 9th grade, by having a Popeye Club in my H.S. auditorium (Marietta High School). That's when I met him, as I was a stage hand for the show.

Bob Johnson was also in the H.S. band with me, and he went on to work for channel 5 in Atlanta. I started a rock band in H.S. and stayed with it through college at Georgia Tech. Bob Johnson asked my band to appear on the Mr. Pix show (he had become Mr. Pix). On a Saturday morning, we went to the studios on Briarcliff Road and taped a song. There was nobody else there, but Bob said it would be mixed into the show. I never got to see what we looked like on TV, as Bob didn't tell us when it aired! Bob went on to become a long time news anchor of a station in Chattanooga.

I remember Bestoink Dooley (George Ellis) quite well as I never missed his show. I remember him opening an artsy movie theater in downtown Atlanta kind of near where the Tabernacle is now. Later, he ran the Ansley Mall Cinema, where I saw an unannounced sneak preview of "Stand By Me."

Freddy Miller's Dialing for Dollars was in there during that era too.

And, I do remember the experiment that channel 5 ran in black & white to produce the illusion of color. As I recall, the picture flashed in a way to make images appear to have some color (pale blue and brown) in them.

Other momentous broadcasting moments in Atlanta:
1. "Did you say two for one?" commercial for the Big Red Furniture Barn in the 50's.
2. The music soundtrack for Plaza Drugs with "six registered pharmacists."

I am looking for a documentary Don Kennedy produced in the 80's, "A History of Atlanta," or something like that. It was broadcast on public television, but I could never find it at the Public Broadcasting store at Phipps Plaza. Does anyone have, or know where I can get a copy of that video?

8:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i grew up in Atlanta,born in 61 and remember officer don's show.i was unaware of his connection to WKLS,i attended the long closed O'keefe middle school(formerly a high school before 1973)this school was located on the Ga tech campus next to the tech coliseum and WGST studios along side the downtown connector at 10th street.WKLS became 96 rock around 73-74 and moved into their studio which was in the lobby of the old atlanta townhouse hotel across the expressway from my school on 10th street.you could stand in the lobby and see the dj and the engineer behind a large plate glass window.when WKLS changed to a rock format they took a crane and placed a camper trailer on the roof of the hotel and a disc jockey stayed in this trailer on the roof for 6 months(why?) broad casting live.WTCG'S studio was up spring from 10th and i went on a school tour of their small studio in april of 1975,at that time turner also owned the outside advertising company that put the ads on billboards and we toured that place also ,it was located in a warehouse on ashby st. around the corner from the fulton county jail. also around this time 75-76 WTCG became the superstation and went 24 hour broadcasting-atlantas first 24 hour station,either rerunning that days braves game or showing reruns of barnaby jones,andy griffith and gomer pyle,every thing else played the national anthem and was off the air by 1 am in those precable days.remember bill tush's offbeat late news cast from then?.

4:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello My name is Tina Nielsen was Nichols. My mom and grand mother took me when I was 7 years old to the popeye club and I was a member of the peanut gallery. Officer Don picked me up and danced all over the studio with me. I met Orvil the green dragon. This was a wonderful memory and a time in my life that I will never foreget. I love this site. Tina Nichols Nielsen

4:44 PM

Blogger Ellen Fix said...

Does anyone remember in the early days of Channel 17 (or was it Channel 36?) back in the late sixties when they used to show nearly x-rated black-and-white B movies after 11:00pm?

10:58 PM

Anonymous Christy Wolf said...

When I was young I was on an episode of The Goodtime Gang. It was around the holidays,they were doing a can donation drive. We were sitting in bleachers on the stage and the host came up to me w/ the skinny microphone and asked me a question about the drive. It was all very exciting!

7:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laugh it up and up-sa-daisy, abba dabba yap boop bop... (From Mr. Pix).
Yah, I remember those shows too...got to be on Officer Don's show a couple of times, but didn't get to play any of the games (like having to eat saltine crackers and be the first one to whistle). I did get the bag of goodies at the end of the show, however! ...
I remember going to Funtown, and I was a wee too young to ride that rollercoaster (what was it...cat & mouse, Wild Mouse, something like that...) until the park closed. Gah...that was over 40 years ago, but it seemed like yesterday. And yes, Officer Don was a great guy.

10:13 PM

Blogger Rob said...

Having grown up in Atlanta in the 60's, reading these comments about the Popeye Club was great; I once gave Orville a piece of cake on the show that my Mom had sent him!
Does anyone remember Funtown, the pre-Six Flags 1960's Atlanta amusement park? I have photos taken at birthday parties held there but no one outside of my family seems to remember anything about the place.
Can anyone help? THANKS.

8:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having grown up in Atlanta, I was delighted to discover this blog about Atlantans' memories! Every red-blooded Atlantan attended a birthday party on the Officer Don Show with the ooee-gooee bag game and Orville. Does anyone remember the Skipper Ray Show? I was also on that one - twice! I have the photos from both; I can never figure out why I looked so unhappy??? Does anyone also remember the show with Miss Boo, the witch? I also went to a birthday party where she was the entertainment at Rich's Magnolia Room tearoom in the 60's. As for Funtown, every kid loved to go there! I remember the Rat Cage/Trap?, a rollercoaster (I was too scared to go on it) and the Crazy Cups! Wasn't there miniature golf in the front? Several years ago there was still a rusted sign for Funtown on Stewart Avenue.

I think Office Don should write a book about the Popeye Club and meet all of his "old" fans!

7:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this! Interestingly, I grew up with Terry Kelley. He was an engaging and hilarious guy, even as a kid before the Popeye Club. He took me on my first date. He was 15, and I was 14. We road the bus downtown to Atlanta from Sandy Springs. When to the Fox to see Psycho, and ate at S&S Cafeteria. Kids could do that in those days without fear of mugging.

8:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy Farnan hosted the Funtown show on Saturday mornings on WSB where he did magic and ventriloquism with Mini Quarts!Both Buddy and Don Kennedy were so kind to me as a kid and let me do magic on their Television shows.
Thanks to both of them!

12:06 AM

Blogger jessica said...

Hi, Clay. I bounced to this (old) post from Greg Germani's atlanta photos site.

I'd managed to block the fact that I got ooey-gooey bagged on the Officer Don show! What was IN those bags?

Fun posting- great research!

9:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Pix was named such because he could draw very well. He would ask a kid in the audience to choose a letter from the alphabet and then he would draw a picture using the letter. He was really good at it.

5:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading the entire post, but what I found most interesting is that you did the majority of the carving-animation sequence at Stone Mountain! That was my favourite part of the show as a child. I hope they still use it!

11:13 PM

Blogger djs said...

Beth, the shorts you were referring to were called Funny Manns and starred character actor Cliff Norton He would introduce each show by telling about one of his relative..."Plumber Mann, Fischer Mann, etc. This would lead into a clip of an old short featuring either "Mickey Mcguire" (a very young Mickey Rooney or an old ben turpin or keystone cops short. It would end with cliff norton asking "Who's the funny mann?? (I foung one of these on youtube look up funny mann) I also remember miss boo, skipper ray mckay (sponsered by the rio vista resturant on stewart avenue) funtown (also on stewart avenue) and OF COURSE officer don and orvill the green dragon:) Damn i'm old lol

10:59 AM

Blogger Game Wizard said...

I also visited the "Skipper Ray" (McKay?)Show. Years later we visited the "Skipper" at a hotel he had purchased in Florida. I don't remember everything, but a dolphin was staying in the water at the beach that his hotel was on and it made the news. We saw the news item and went to visit "The Skipper" and see the dolphin.

1:25 PM

Anonymous Andrew Bridges said...

Thanks so much for doing this. It brings back wonderful memories. One might add the short-lived (one summer) Saturday morning children's show in the 60s, Bum Bum and His Buddies, produced by Walter Roberts (father of Julia and Eric Roberts) and his children's theatre company the Actors and Writers Workshop. The programs consisted of mini-plays performed by the children of the Workshop. The host of the show was the clown Bum Bum, played by Betty Roberts (Walter's then wife and Julia/Eric's mother). I acted in the shows and it was a marvelous experience: the production schedule was demanding and Walter Roberts was a fantastic acting coach.

1:31 AM

Anonymous Jon said...

I lived in Atlanta for awhile but not during the time of the local kids shows. I grew up in eastern Kentucky in the Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia Television market and can remember a local kids show here then called Mr. Cartoon on WSAZ TV 3 out of Huntington, WV hosted by then WSAZ Weatherman Jule Huffman. The show was similar to that of the Officer Don program on WSB with studio skits with an audience of local kids from the area with Looney Tunes Cartoons as fill-ins. The show would air weekdays at 4:00 PM before the evening news. Many evenings Jule would do the weather at 6:00 still in his trademark Mr. Cartoon costume. Mr. Cartoon amazingly lasted until 1994 replaced by Oprah Winfery.

10:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember being on the Popeye club about 50 years ago, and watching it everyday. I also remember seeing Bestoink Dooley on friday nights and in person at the Belevedere Theatre at a Saturday matinee. I remember it well. It's funny how this stuff sticks to you.

2:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't grow up in Atlanta but in the shadow of its TV stations. I was a big fan of Woody Willow and find it near impossible to fine anyone who remembers the show. However, I was very excited to see someone remembered Miss Boo! I just enjoyed seeing her crawl around in the cardboard boxes! Wish I could find out more about her, but the fifties live local TV shows were just throw a ways...

4:50 PM

Blogger Tim Lones said...

I grew up in Canton Ohio during the 60's..Every city had their favorites:Just a few comments as they might relate to Atlanta..

Funny Manns (Cliff Norton) was on WEWS-TV 5 Cleveland on Captain Penny's program, where he also screened Mr. Magoo, Rocky/Bullwinkle, The Three Stooges, Magilla Gorilla and Peter Potamus from Hanna Barbera..
Bwana Don, though I never watched him, was on WJW-TV 8 for a short while..He was a Storer TV fixture..Barnaby on WKYC-TV 3 had Popeye for many years..lots of good memories,,

12:05 AM

Anonymous JohnT said...

RE: Buddy Farnan

I very much remember watching Buddy Farnan's magic show on television when I was young. However, I also lived up the street from Buddy Farnan and, although I was about a year or two older than his son, Chris, I spent quite a bit of time at their house in Atlanta.

12:15 PM

Blogger angie said...

Found this blogg when searching tubby and lester show from late 1960s to early 1970.Im 45yrs.old. when I was around 6yrs.old my brownie troupe from lawrenceville ga was aired on T.and L.,I actually won a 2nd prize ANT FARM, ha.I would LOVE2get info.on if there is anyway possible to get a copy of that airing.Wow,that wld b great

7:26 PM

Blogger Robert said...

This has taken me back. I grew up in Atlanta during the 60's & 70's and went to Cross Keys HS. I was on Officer Don (twice), Mr. Pix and Tubby & Lester. I got to play the Ooey Gooey game and also got picked to play a game on T & L that involved sliding on our butts on cookie sheets from one line to another, then back.

I'm trying to recall the name of another kid's show host that my grandmother hired for my 6th birthday party. This guy also went by Buddy ? (I think), but is not the "Buddy" mentioned here. He had dark hair and was a puppeteer (the marionette? kind). For the life of me though, I can't remember his name or the name of the show. I just remember him doing my birthday party. Anybody else recall him?

2:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful site. I am an Atlanta native....but have lived away from Ga many years now. (VA)
I remember Woody Willow & Miss Boo from the late 1950s on Atlanta TV.
And a friend & I appeared on the 'Clubhouse Gang' with Don Kennedy during that time. Most vivid memory of that visit...we were headed home after the show in my friend's moms new Ford Fairlane ('58 model, I think) He & I were in the back seat and he got into his 'goody bag' and pulled out a jar of 'Bosco' (choch. flavored syrup)....and proceeded to dump the entire contents onto the seat!

My mom & I stayed up and watched Bestoink Dooley..she loved those old classic horror movies....the Mummy...Wolfman, etc. Dad would head for bed long before.
In the 60s there was good ole Live Atlanta Wrasslin' on Sat. afternoons. (Channel 11) Freddie Blassie....Haystack Calhoun....Chief Little Eagle....all the 'big names' were there cpmplete with fake blood and the ocassionally thrown folding chair. ("Bondstone", a cheesy looking fake 'rock' siding for houses was a frequent advertiser.) Freddie Miller and also Ed Capperal (sp?) did the ring side announcing honors.
Someone mentioned the lovely 'Coach Friday', who gave the college football scores on Sat. evenings.....didn't she always wear a Slippery Rock college sweatshirt on the show?
Great memories..............and yes, I remember 'Funtown' on Stewart Ave too. (Isn't that now called Metropolitan Ave ?)

3:12 AM

Anonymous Mike Durrett said...

Hi. Thanks for quoting me in your article. A couple of clarifications:

1. TUBBY AND LESTER was largely filled with cartoons and the boys were wrap-arounds. I have to give them credit for trying to do sketches, no matter how disappointing the material turned out. The MR. MAGOO cartoons were not the classic theatricals, but new 5-minute TV ones produced by the same group as the DICK TRACY package. Today, they would be considered grossly politically incorrect for ethnic stereotypes. My memory is poor on the other cartoons, but the Harmon Abbott & Costello TV cartoons produced around that time may also have been shown here.

2. I began to watch Officer Don in 1958. I was six. My memory is it was always THE POPEYE CLUB from those days forward. I never saw a LITTLE RASCAL there or anything but Popeyes until the Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith, and Krazy Kat monstrosities were added in the mid-60s, probably because they were in color and cheap.

The show may have been a half hour in '58, but I remember it mostly as an hour program with four cartoons, a mix of only the Paramount POPEYEs, the B&W Fleischers and the Famous Studios theatricals.

Standard procedure was to omit the titles on both ends of the cartoons; I wouldn't be surprised if the technicians dead-rolled the 16mm films, hitting the air minutes into the 'toons sometimes.

12:48 AM

Anonymous Mike Durrett said...


Around 1960, that horrible new limited action Popeye made-for-TV cartoon package began to appear and the Fleischers may have been phased out when the show went color.

I believe Orville the Dragon showed up in maybe 1964 or '65. I remember hurrying home after high school let out to catch the show because Don and Orville would almost always get into giggle fits over something borderline dirty one or the other adlibbed. It was must-see TV for teenagers, too.

After WSB dropped the show, Don and Orville moved it to Channel 36 (or was it 69?) around 1973 or '74. Don bought that TV station and ran it on a shoestring for awhile. The show had no Popeye cartoons, but mostly old filler material which was probably public domain and free. I remember old Republic serials or similar. It was a sad show to witness and didn't last too long.

3. MR. PIX was so named because Dave Michaels drew caricatures in the host segments. Seems like he illustrated his verbal stories. The show was padded with the same WB Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies package Channel 5 had been playing for years before. Mostly the '40s cartoons, as I recall. I only watched one or two MR. PIX episodes because it was geared to little kids and I was a teen around that time.

12:50 AM

Anonymous Chris said...

I remember the Funtown show, and I (vaguely ) remember going there. They had a box that you put a dime in- a music box started playing "Turkey in the straw," a little door slid open, and live chicken came out and started "dancing" to the music behind a glass window. It was brilliant, and I'll never forget it.
You can still see remnants of Funtown along Metropolitan (Stewart) Ave.

4:51 PM

Blogger SteveB said...

I remember Officer Don & even had an Oliver puppet! Of course just a few years later we were watching Now Explosion...

3:40 PM

Blogger berrin48 said...

I actually went to school with Orville the Dragon. Terry Kelly and I attended what was then Kennesaw Junior College, and we worked together on the college newspaper. Terry invited a group of us to play a trick on Officer Don. Orville baked some chocolate chip cookies. The plan was that when Terry gave the cue, we were all to run out on camera and grab a cookie. Was Don Kennedy surprised! We had a great time of that. Terry later moved to the Athens area and operated a local cable TV company. He passed away from cancer in the 1980s, way too young.

3:42 PM

Blogger BobbyBoomer said...

Thank you all for paving memory lane for this old boomer. Had I traveled this old road without your memory jogs, it would have been a fuzzy, dusty, dirt road indeed.

One of the first posts made mention of a character named Morgus who, as I recall, gave the weather. The post said that this character was a taped feed from Detroit? Could there have been a Detroit Morgus and an Atlanta Morgus. I seem to recall Morgus being right there with Bestoink, playing his Igor-like, bumbling sidekick. Also, I recall a family member theorizing that Morgus was actually Atlanta weatherman Guy Sharpe. Is that possible? Does anyone know? If it wasn't Guy, does anyone know who played Morgus?

Also, thanks to those of you that remembered Skipper Ray's last name, McKaye. Did he also serve as a ring-side commentator for Live Atlanta Wrestling or am I confusing him with someone else?

1:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the "Dead Ernest" character very well. I was in high school at the time and during the run of the show, there was no mystery about the fact that Dead Ernest was Ted Turner. Everybody familiar with the show knew exactly who it was and there was no attempt to hide it at all. It was very well done too. Extremely creepy. I don't have any evidence to "prove" this, but at the time it was totally obvious. Everybody thought it was quite funny.

10:38 PM

Anonymous Rollan Eskew jr. said...

I was on the Popeye Club for my 5th birthday, in 1964. I remember getting "stage fright" when officer Don asked me to sit on the bench next to him in front of the "clubhouse." He asked my age and I just froze. I remember he looked at a tag I had on my shirt and said something like "You're 5 years old" or something like that.It was unfamilar territory. It wasn't like what I saw on TV. I was facinated with the cameras and the set. I also met Buddy Farnum in the early 70's. He was at the entrance gate at Lake Spivey greeting the kids and parents.Ahh. Those were the days of my youth.

7:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have such fond memories of Tubby and Lestor. Those were great times to be a kid, and the city was great as well :)


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10:42 PM

Blogger John said...

I too was on Tubby and Lester in the sixties. I don't remember why, but I won a GIANT Tootsie Roll (filled with little ones) and I was the happiest kid in the world!

10:35 PM

Anonymous David said...

This an Atlanta Radio Question... WSB-AM broadcast the ATL Braves Games at the old Alanta-Fulton County Stadium for many years, with Ernie Johnson hosting and others. There was the theme song that introduced that program in the '60s and '70s. It was a catchy tune w/ lyrics. I wish I could find it...part of it went "...I'm so glad that we came, 'cause it's a BRAND NEW GAME!" Anyone remember this?

12:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family moved back to Atlanta in 1968 from N.C. when I was 5. I remember most of these shows. My friends Mike and Mark Davis were on the Tubby and Lester show in their Webelos uniforms on Mark's birthday. He won the gerbil races competition, but unfortunately the prize he won turned out to be the "bag of goo." He bawled like a baby on morning TV. I was in middle school with Buddy Farnen's son. In addition to hosting the kiddie show, Farnen also had a puppet/magic act that played school assemblies, churches and "clean" nightclubs around town. We ridiculed Farnen, Jr., unmercifully in school and after his dad lost the TV show he had to leave private school. Officer Don in his later years bounced from the networks to the burgeoning UHF channels around Atlanta (30, 36, 46,64, etc.). Captain 3-0, 3-0, had a short life on channel 30, but an insanely catchy and annoying theme song. Was a big fan of "Dialing for Dollars", with its chain-smoking host which ran mostly B-movies with a theme for the entire week: horror week, rock'n'roll week, Tarzan week, Godzilla week, and my all-time favorite Gamera week. It aired right after we got home from school every afternoon. I remember the Friday night and Saturday morning horror movie shows: Friday Night Frights, Creature Feature, Bestoink Dooley, and of course, Dead Ernest-have never heard that Ernest was actually Montana Ted, but I did order the Dead Ernest poster from channel 17 when I was 10 or 11 ($1.00, shipping included). George Ellis and his son later went on to operate the Garden Hills Cinema on Peachtree for many years, where we would gather for midnite screenings of "Rocky Horror" on weekends. Does anybody else remember Sunday mornings on Channel 2 in the early seventies when they would show Popeye, Hercules, and Kimba the white lion cartoons before "Gospel Jubilee" started? Seems like Sunday programming in Atlanta used to consist of nothing but religious shows, Wide World of Sports re-runs, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Wonderful World of Disney, and "Blondie Theater" on WTCG. Thanks for the memories, R.I.P., Ludlow.

4:17 PM

Blogger Larry Felton Johnson said...

I'd forgotten all about Tubby and Lester. Two other local children's shows were Skipper Ray McKay and Bwana Don. Bwana Don had a sidekick, a girl probably about eleven or twelve years old named Debby, on whom I had a tremendous crush.

8:04 AM


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