Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top 10 Childhood Heroes including Our Gal Sal

If you don't recognize any of these people, no worries, you are simply not as mature as I am.

Happy the Clown ran from 1956 to 1968 and what I distinctly remember was birthday cake time and if it was your birthday you could help blow out the candles on the big cake but there were no stipulations about the marching sticks.  You could get your own outside from tree twigs and march around to the music with the rest of the kids on TV.  I will admit sometimes I would try and help get those candles out even if it wasn't my birthday.  I was always an impatient little girl.  I have improved slightly and my birthday, shucks I don't mid if we celebrate that every 10 years now. Howard Jones the man who played Happy the Clown passed away in 1993. He was said to love children the only thing he wasn't so fond of was the mothers and grandparents who thought their child wasn't seen enough.  I always thought that Krusty the Clown on the Simpson's was patterned after him.  He was Bart's favorite.

 Pixanne was a pretty little thing and she could fly. I always aspired to reach new heights watching her show.  Jane Norman attended Temple University and she is still going strong with a singing career.  Check out her website, pixanne.com and listen to her voice.  I guarantee it will bring a vision of her right into your mind. Kind and sweet.

Miss Connie (that's the one I remember) on Romper Room was the leader of a bunch of kids romping around and singing is how I remember it BUT Miss Connie had this magic mirror and she could SEE you and it made me a little paranoid. It was even worse when she couldn't see me.  I would wonder doesn't she like what she sees? My insecurity would set in, hey, what about me, over here? I finally came to the conclusion, maybe all that was a matter was the TV screen was dirty.  My parents were always impressed when I offered to clean it.  Just thank Miss Connie. I could not find a Miss Connie on YouTube but there is a Miss Mary Ann and she is a Do BEE.  Dang! another girlie got the job.  I looked it up and there was a Miss Claire in the Philadelphia area from 1954 to 1956 but that was before my time.  Claire Coleman also a Temple graduate is married to former U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker. Anyone remember Miss Connie? Was she watching you too?

Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans were cool but that Mr. Moose, he rocked and so did Dancing Bear!! I had a major crush on the big guy.  I think it was a guy. Captain Kangaroo was on for 30 years.  I did not watch it the whole time and I am pretty sure what I watched was all black and white. The Captain died in 2004.

Wee Willie Webber's Cartoon Club.  Wee Willie was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1999. He passed away at 80 years old in 2010. I thought he always talked really fast maybe it was just the alliteration in his name. Try it three times real fast.

Chief Halftown used to make public appearances all the time.  I remember seeing him as a kid at the bowling alley in Brookhaven and most recently in the Halloween Parade in Media some years back.  I know I have that picture somewhere, I am going to have to go on a search.  He passed away in 2003.

Gene London I watched sporadically. He was on for 18 years including Cartoon Corner General Store. I know there are kids that swear by him but he intimidated me, not sure why but I could never ever draw like him.  Years later I heard he was tracing and at first I wasn't sure how to feel about that. Its like lip syncing.  There was never any confirmation to that, I also heard he was a very talented artist.  He got the job somehow.  He was very soothing and soft spoken, a good influence for children. There is a great story about a kid that was on the Gene London show told on Broadcasts Pioneers website.  He was looking for a copy of the show he was on as a kid and he received a.... I'm sorry most shows were live and the ones we taped, were taped over the next week. The rest of that story is pretty neat, Gene London to the rescue, check it out.............  He a pretty cool guy after all.

Pete's Gang Possibly why I wasn't a big Gene London fan was I think he was on the same time slot at Pete's Gang and not everyone remembers Pete's Gang like I do, I was on the show twice.  Uncle Pete, as he was known was Pete Boyle and you may recognize that name from the father on "Everyone Loves Raymond" and or the monster in "Young Frankenstein".  He was Uncle Pete's son.  Another blog, another day there is a great interview of the younger Pete Boyle on Youtube.  Off track here, my father was a cub scout master and he took the cubs on all kinds of field trips and I usually got to tag along.  One of those times they went to a studio in Philadelphia, I think and we were guests on the Pete's Gang show.  The show was an introduction to "Our Gang", the Little Rascals show. I remember getting to the studio and walking through this narrow hallway.  We were going to put our coats in a separate room, this long arm reaches out and grabs me and said, "her, use her".  I was scared to death and they hustled me in another direction, someone took my coat and I was on stage where they did the filming.  They had me practice pulling on this rope that opened up a trapped door to let all the kids in.  I was asked ahead of time if I liked cookies by Pete himself and I said no because I thought that was a bad thing and he said well then don't take one.  I had to take the can around and offer them to the other kids.  I was the hostess.  I got to sit on a high stool right next to Pete.  The show was taped so you don't know what is being filmed.  I watched it a week later, very excited to see myself.  I was an expert at pulling up that trap door and the best cookie giver outter they ever had, I am sure of that BUT as I was sitting up there next to Pete, I guess I was suppose to be paying attention, I got caught by the camera making a face.  I was glancing over at the other kids sitting in the bleachers, mostly ALL boys from the cub scouts and I made eye contact with John Pacanowski who I was sure liked me.  He smiled at me and I scrunched up my nose and made this horrible face.  There it was dead center on the camera and a CLOSEUP! Thanks John, I could have been famous!  I think I mean, phew, thanks John, I could have been famous. Youtube would have crushed me.  I still remember the red velvet dress I was wearing, my grandmother made it for me and that face, I still do it.  It has become my trademark. Pete, the father passed away in 1967, he attended Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His son passed in 2006, YouTube Part 1, 2, 3. He was a great actor.

The Shari Lewis Show would have been the Sesame Street back in the day with the puppets and ventriloquist talent. Her characters were Lamb Chop, Charley Horse, Hush Puppy and Wing Ding. She was a multi-talented lady.  Lamb Chop appeared before Congress in 1993 in favor of protections for children's television programs. Shari Lewis passed away in 1998 at the age of 65 while undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, she developed viral pneumonia.

Last but not least, Miss Sally Starr the woman that brought back such happy childhood memories and inspired this blog. She passed away at 90 years old on Sunday, January 27th, 2013.  My childhood memory is Popeye when I think of her and the two occasions when I saw her in person.  She was at a special event at Smedley Junior High School in Chester and she was choosing people out of the audience to do tricks.  One of those tricks was to whistle.  Can you whistle? she asked, everyone raised their hand and she chose someone and they came up on stage and whistled great then she made them eat crackers and attempt to whistle.  You can not eat crackers and whistle,it is impossible.  I know this because, I have attempted it several times since.  The last time I saw Sally was about 10 years ago.  She was a guest at the first ever, I believe 4th of July parade in Nether Providence.  She was 80 years old?  She looked great.  Now I am on a mission to find the photo.

I found it! I also had written on the back of the photo, Sally Starr introduced herself as, Popeye's Mommy.  The photo is dated July 2001.

Farewell Our Gal Sal
Love, luck and lollipops!

When you are a kid you never think about people dying and you naturally assumed everyone will live forever. As an adult you know that is not true and you see it proven each day with the loss of another family member or friend but the good news is those memories live on forever and you are blessed to have them.

I have lost some of the best and they weren't even Superstars but they were to me.  Bigger than life and still are.  We all have our heroes.

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