Saturday, November 16, 2013

Romper Room Around the USA

Romper Room

Miss Connie / Romper Room in Virginia

Romper Room was an educational preschooler broadcast from 1954 until well into the 1980s in almost every TV market in the United States.

The program was sold to stations in two ways. A standard syndication version they could air 'as is' - or as a franchise with everything done locally, the most popular option. The series was developed by Bert and Nancy Claster who trained many of the local hostesses / teachers.

Below you'll find links to our exhaustive look at one of the country's most beloved children's shows including dozens of rare pictures and video you won't find anywhere else along with comments from some of the original Romper Room teachers!

Romper Room History
Romper Room Memories
Romper Room Around the USA
New York City's Romper Room
Romper Room in Spokane, WA
Romper Room in LA
Romper Room in Pittsburgh
Romper Room in Virginia
Romper Room in Phoenix
Romper Room in Jacksonville, FL
Romper Room in Chicago

Romper Room in Arkansas
Romper Room in Birmingham
Romper Room in Rockford, Il
Romper Room in Memphis
Romper Room in Portland, Maine
Romper Room in New York

Romper Room in Boston

Romper Room in Chesterfield, MO
Romper Room in Charlotte, NC
Romper Room in Baltimore
Romper Room in Evansville IN
Romper Room in Witchita
Romper Room in Hawaii
Romper Room in Cleveland
Romper Room in Harrisburg
Romper Room in Lancing
Romper Room in Iowa
Romper Room in Orlando
Romper Room in the UK

Remember the Magic Mirror? Of course you do!

First Episode of The Price is Right from Fall 1972

"A fortune in valuable prizes may go these people today if they know when... The Price Is Right!" - Announcer Johnny Olsen

From 1956 until 1965 The Price is Right was seen both in daytime and primetime, a top 10 hit hosted by the late great Bill Cullen on NBC, later ABC. Seven years after the show was cancelled The New Price is Right (as it was originally named) starring Bob Barker became an immediate smash when it was revived and updated on CBS daytime in September of 1972.

Bob Barker had a marvelous way of bringing out the best in contestants, a skill he developed as the host of Truth or Consequences (airing in syndication in the sixties & seventies). This commitment made Barker unavailable for the syndicated nighttime version of TPIR so game show veteran Dennis James got the job; that version only lasted 5 seasons.

Here's the very first episode of The Price is Right - boy, those 1970s prices are righteous!

That episode is a little stiff, being the first and all, so let's get a look at Bob Barker at his peak in 1975.  This was shortly before the very first hour long episode. Once CBS realized more people were tuning in for the second half of the program than the first, the network made the hour-long format permanent in November 1975. In 1975, TPIR ran 45+ minutes with commercials rounding out the hour, now it's only around 38 minutes. More commercials!

Dennis James hosted the syndicated nightime version - but I thought he was the wrong person for the job. Too harsh, not at all funny. Here he subs for Bob Barker on the Christmas Day 1974 episode of the afternoon show.

Where would this game be without the exciting music beds by Score Productions? I want to go around in life with that music playing behind me!

Lots more game show fun here at TVparty!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Super Retro 1980s Christmas Commercials

Christmas Specials & Holiday TV Shows
Some merry old soul posted this 15 minute commercials mix from the 1982 holiday season including promos for cartoons like The Smurfs, phenomenally popular on Saturday mornings at the time. Look for The Gary Coleman Show, cartoon buffoonery with the diminutive troubled actor cast as an angel. (Well, he is one now, isn't he?)

On the top of every young person's Christmas list in '82 was the Atari play system, a leap ahead for home entertainment, the beginning of our video game culture. My how quaint 30+ years ago looks from here...

Every year Miller's Outpost would bombard Californians with their warm & fuzzy Christmas commercials - and they were well received. 'Homer and J.R.' starred in dozens of spots throughout the '70s & '80s. Here's one from 1984. This major jeans and leisure wear chain in the '80s, like The Gap saw sales drop precipitously when denim fell out of favor late in the decade. The company changed their name to Anchor Blue in the 90s and went out of business in 2011. The Gap, of course, got bigger than ever.

Acclaimed dancer Geoffrey Holder was the face and voice for the Un-Cola in 1984, a campaign that began in the 1970s.

Watching TV you could not escape Kmart commercials during Christmas. The spots had a deliberately cheap look but the slogan "Kmart is your saving place" was in use for a very long time.


Swatch was one of the hottest product lines in 1987, a selection of plastic watches that came in groovy colors and new wave designs. Eighties kids had to have their Swatch on. The Fat Boys starred in this holiday jam. There were so many clothing fads in the 80s - Guess, Ton Sur Ton, Member's Only... and those MC Hammer pajama pants just to mention a few.

This 1988 commercial is unintentionally hilarious. General Hospital heartthrob (really?) Tony Geary demonstrates perfectly why I thought those Member's Only jackets were an abomination. I would avoid at all costs anyone wearing one or even being in a place where someone was wearing one, no kidding.


If you watched Rudolph and A Charlie Brown Christmas in front of the TV with your family in 1986 you watched these commercial breaks. Did they ever retire that Extra gum jingle? It lasted an extra, extra, extra long time!

A grouping of December 16, 1985 commercials including one of the most memorable of the decade - remember Mikey for Life cereal? He'll eat anything.

(all the way back to the 1950s) at TVparty!

History of the Thanksgiving Day Parades on TV

From TV historian Kevin Butler comes this bit of TV history dating back to the nifty fifties: 

Thursday, November 28, 2013 will be the 54th anniversary of the CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade Jubilees. Featured on that first broadcast: The Gimbel's Thanksgiving Day Parade from Philadelphia; The J. L. Hudson Parade from Detroit; The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from NYC; and The Eaton's Santa Claus Parade from Toronto, Canada. (Eaton's Parade was always pre-taped in advance for later broadcast).

Captain Kangaroo The main MCs for the parade's early telecasts were Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Lumpy Brannum) Gus (Cosmo) Allegretti's puppets Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. The group viewed the parades via a giant TV monitor which The Captain called "The Magic Picture Window Screen."

On his last parade broadcast in November of 1965 Captain Kangaroo's co-host was ventriloquist and entertainer Shari Lewis.

(The Detroit-based commentators were Dallas Townsend and Bob Murphy in 1962.) 

Kukla, Fran & Ollie photo - classic TV starsOther hosts for late-1960s / '70s / '80s parade telecasts were Peter Graves (when he was just beginning his stint as Jim Phelps on "Mission Impossible"); Bob Barker; Kukla, Fran (Allison) and Ollie with The Kuklapolitan Player Puppets; The Bil Baird Puppets; William Conrad, and Larry Hagman. With the exception of Kuklapolitans, Mr. Barker and The Bil Baird Puppets, the other hosts worked against a living room to give the viewers the feeling that they were sharing their holidays with friends.

Many well-known performers and personalities served as the on the street commentators for the parade broadcasts: CBS newsmen Jack Whitaker and Gene Crane, Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day At A Time"), Danielle Brisebois ("All In The Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place"), Sorrell Booke ("The Dukes Of Hazard"), The Hudson Brothers, Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley, and Kevin Frasier ("Kojak") all commented over The Gimbel's Thanksgiving Day Parades from Philly.

ester rolle - classic television shows - good timesEsther Rolle & John Amos ("Good Times"), Linda Lavin ("Alice"), Ned Beatty, and Captain Kangaroo (Mr. Keeshan) and Kathy Garver ("Family Affair") were commentators for the J. L. Hudson Parades; Bob Barker and Rob Reiner commented on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades" from NYC and Michael Lerned , Art & Jack Linkletter and Bob Denver, Herschel Bernardi, Jim Backus ("Gilligan's Island") introduced the Eaton's Santa Claus Parades from Toronto.

When the Eaton's Santa Claus Parades were dropped from the broadcasts, CBS TV acquired the rights to telecast "The Hawaiian Floral Parades" from the city of Honolulu. Loretta Swit ("M*A*S*H") and Gregory Harrison ("Trapper John, MD") hosted one parade telecast with the intros pre-filmed by actor Jack Lord (who was still playing Police Lt. Steve McGarrett on "Hawaii Five O").

Video from the early parades is hard to come by. We only have home movie footage of a fifties era Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - after all the broadcast was live and there were no VCRs.

Here's The Santa Claus Lane Parade from November, 1960 with appearances by Los Angeles local TV stars Skipper Frank Herman, Chucko The Clown, Sheriff John Rovick, Don Defore, Patty McCormick, "Bozo" (Vance Colvig), Francis X. Bushman and Soupy Sales.

In 1972 ABC aired it's Saturday morning shows on Thanksgiving and the Friday after to the welcome delight of kids home from school and flustered moms that wanted them out of her hair.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Andy Kaufman is Alive? Says His Brother, Not Me.

According to The Gothamist comedian Andy Kaufman is still alive, living in obscurity raising a family. This news comes from Andy's brother and his alleged daughter.

As someone who followed Andy Kaufman's career from the start I'll tell you why this is highly unlikely. For one, a person like that can't go from being the most rabid publicity seeker on the planet - remember his wrestling bits? - and quit that cold turkey. Not for 3 decades. Ten years living out the hoax that he's dead? For a guy like Andy Kaufman, I could see that... almost.

For another, residual checks from the shows he did, where did/are they going? To his estate, his heirs? What responsible family man walks away from income like that? What could he possibly be doing for a living, working in an office somewhere? Certainly not performing and he was a consummate performer. It was in his DNA.

No one recognized him the first few years? Why would his brother 'out' him as opposed to a more splashy return by Andy himself? Too many questions. No doubt Andy would have loved the spate of publicity this latest 'Andy Is Alive Sighting' will inevitably bring -  like Bigfoot when he sees his face on the Enquirer every year.

Read the story for yourself and decide.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

More Las Vegas Legends!