Channel 38 hosts continued...
FUNVILLE with NICKY THE CLOWN
Captain Mac was a hard act to follow, and the task fell upon the rubbery shoulders of Nicky The Clown. A trademark 'August,' or happy clown, Nicky sported white makeup with a red putty nose and baggy pants. "I live in a dilapidated shack," explained the clown's alter ego, Nicky Francis. "My daughter Anita plays 'Lee Tucker', a neighbor girl who comes over to visit me. I get into different types of predicaments and she gets me out of them."
Nicky Francis, a fifth-generation circus performer, was born in France and went on the European stage at the age of 6 with his family, the Fratelinis. Eventually moving to the United States, Nicky was a regular on TV's 'Super Circus', originating from WBKB-TV in Chicago. During that time Francis hosted WBKB's "Time For Fun!," seen weekday afternoons from 1953 to 1955. When 'Super Circus' moved to New York the Chicago cast was dropped and Francis departed for the Tampa Bay area.
Funville debuted January 18, 1960 and featured the
long-running 'Crusader Rabbit' cartoons along with a new animated package of 'Rags the
Tiger'. The photo at right shows Nicky with his dog Bobo and Crusader
Rabbit and Rags the Tiger.
(Thanks to Dan Walent and Kevin S. Butler for additional information on Nicky Francis. Most of Nicky's bio came from newspaper articles which contradict his birthplace as listed on the Internet Movie Datebase. The IMDB says that Nicky was born in Kirksville, Missouri...not France, as indicated by the newspaper. You be the judge.)
|BONGO BAILEY IN JUNGLE LA
Premiering on September 9, 1963, Bongo was scheduled Monday through Saturday in the 10-10:30AM time slot. In its listing for the Monday debut program, TV Guide's description said "Bongo Bailey, a chimp, is featured in this new children's series." Information on Bongo is pretty scarce but Mr. Ed Golick of detroitkidshow.com has provided the answer: "Bwana Don in Jungle-La" was a kids show taped in Detroit, Michigan. The early shows were done for the Detroit market; the later ones were syndicated. "Bwana Don in Jungle-La" aired on WJBK from 1960 to 1963. With his chimp Bongo Bailey, Don Hunt hosted cartoons while teaching Detroitís small fry about the wonders of the animal kingdom. In the summer of 1961 Hunt took a movie camera to Kenya to film animal footage for the show. He loved the country so much that he moved there in 1964 when the series ended. Hunt manages the Mt. Kenya Game Ranch, a sanctuary for dozens of species of wild animals, and is responsible for saving the White Zebra and the Bongo (a species of forest antelope) from extinction
In the TV Guide listings for the program's debut, the show
is called JUNGLE-LA. The TV Guide ad for the program in the same issue
refers to it as BONGO BAILEY IN JUNGLE-LA. By July of 1965, the TV
Guide listings refer to the program as B'WANA DON IN JUNGLE-LA, while the
St. Petersburg Times Sunday TV/Radio Dial magazine still referred to it as BONGO
BAILEY IN JUNGLE-LA.
Oh...and Bongo Bailey himself? According to
the last report...is
living at a zoo in Florida!
(Right) This photo shows Super Duper on a Festival of States parade float circa 1955. Note that Super Duper wears his trademark tuxedo and top hat. An accordion, Super Duper's musical instrument of choice, is suspended from his neck.
Perhaps the classic automobile is Super Duper's own transportation.
|SUPER DUPER'S COLOR BOOK
An oddly-titled show for a black and white channel, Super Duper's Color Book debuted in April of 1955. The show first aired at 5:30 pm, then was moved to 4:30 pm when Channel 38 picked up ABC's Mickey Mouse Club from 5:00-6:00 pm.
The Super Duper character was a real live version of a 'little person' in a tuxedo and top hat appearing on the packages of Herman Orange Band Weiner meat products. Like other kid show hosts of the time, Super Duper would make personal appearances. BIG 13 correspondent Tony Zappone remembers seeing S.D. in person. "I met him when he made an appearance at my elementary school, circa 1955. He was a indeed very short but had a great presence and put on an entertaining show with bits of magic." The show was renamed "Super Duper's Circus" and ended its run December 16, 1955.
(Additional information and comment on Super Duper provided
by Jim Maloy)
'Fireman Harry' Williams actually lived around the corner from
me in St. Petersburg. I remember that Harry had a family and drove them
around in a spiffy 1957 Rambler.
The Davy Crockett Show
Think that Fess Parker was the only guy to portray the legendary Western character Davy Crockett? WSUN's Bob Brown played Davy on "The Davy Crockett Show," which debuted on April 30, 1955, less than a year after the ABC-TV version created a national sensation. WSUN's Crockett aired Saturday & Sunday evenings 6:30-7pm and the show included western serials, camping tips, and frontier stories.
WSUN's Davy Crockett and Ernie Lee are featured in this
programming ad. Notice who's missing? Capt. Mac is
still listed on WSUNs schedule, but it's probably the Fred Davy version.
Burl McCarty's Capt. Mac was at WTVT during this period.
MAKE-BELIEVE TOY SHOP
Pinellas County school teacher June Young hosted this weekly program on Saturday mornings. Geared towards the pre-school set, June would read stories, draw, and sing from the fall of 1953 through the fall of 1954. June later made her mark as "Miss June" on the long-running Romper Room Show (see Channel 8 section).
BOZO THE CLOWN
WTVT's Paul Reynolds portrayed Bozo on a semi-regular basis for Channel 13 in the early 1960s. His Bozo appearances tapered off to nil during the years that Reynolds played 'Shock Armstrong.'
In 1967, WSUN was carrying the 1961 Bozo cartoons produced by Larry Harmon. Until there is more information telling us otherwise, it's assumed that the Bozo cartoon package had no live host.
TV Guide ad from 1967