Just Imagine! One Small B & W Screened TV Set with Small Picture Tube
This show was the kiddie trade's equivalent of THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW or MILTON BERLE. It was an hour long, broadcast live (at least in the Eastern and Central Time Zones), featured a multitude of genuine circus acts and a really Big Brass Band.
These were the days of strong sponsor association, hence no one who viewed it then could ever think of any other way, except as the SEALTEST BIG TOP, not just the BIG TOP.
The cast was headed up by veteran actor, Jack Sterling, who provided an excellent father-figure, as Ring Master/MC. Having viewed a VHS of the show, Mr. Sterling showed himself as being very persuasive to the young audience members. He was very good at his job, whether it was introducing one of "the Greatest" Circus acts, or in doing a commercial for ice cream, milk or some other of the sponsor's dairy products. If he wasn't a father figure, he was at least a sort of favourite uncle.
There were many regulars in the cast. Some were there to help pitch the various Sealtest products.(i.e., one regular always dressed as a Carnival Barker as we would see on the midway of a circus. They would do the commercials as part of the show, so we probably were More attentive.
One regular was Ed McMahon, the same guy who would later be Johnny Carson's long time announcer/foil and Publishers' Sweapstakes spokesman. Ed was a clown on the show (and supposedly understudy as MC)It was Ed McMahon who we first saw, with blinking nose, as the show opened. They had a crew of regular clowns, veterans of real circuses, who performed every week from Clown Alley.
One other performer who deserves mentioning was their Strong Man, a man now known to me as Dan Lurie. Dan always there to join in the opening parade and closing ceremonies. He would be clad in leopard skin pattern trunks with a dark cape and sandals. He would march along and strike a muscle pose. He mostly was involved in commercials. One time he was called on to introduce a Family Strong Man Act that featured both adults and kids doing different Strength Stunts. Well, he must have said at least three times the warning to not try this at home. We didn't.
Dan Lurie was a runner up for the 'Mr. America' title (1942,'43,'44) and voted the 'Most Muscular Man'Trophy at each of those contests. He later published weight training books and magazines and sold barbell sets and accessories. Enough about that!
When taken as a whole the SEALTEST BIG TOP was an exciting, extravagant and fast moving hour. Many of those Saturday mornings were spent in the Ryan household with this "variety show in sawdust".
NOTE: "Sealtest" was the name of an apparently now defunct national food company which marketed milk, ice cream and other (mostly)dairy products during that period ('50's).We don't know if they are around any more. Maybe one of our fellow IMDb readers can shed some light on this question.
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