Proving the Power and Creativity of Local Programing! Here's One that got "Called Up to the Major Leagues", at least for a Trial Run!
In 1956 the practice of Local TV Stations making their own Programs that were aimed at the Kiddie trade was a universally accepted axiom. Just about all of our local stations had Lunch Time hour-long shows. During various seasons, those local kids here in Chicago, who were lucky enough to live close to the school, could spend their Lunch period with cartoons, puppets, certain TV "Uncles" and the like.
The Local List of these mid-day Kid Shows over the years included "UNCLE JOHNNY COONS TIME", "LUNCH TIME LITTLE THEATRE", "THE HAPPY PIRATES" with Dick "Two Ton" Baker, "PADDLE BOAT", THE BOZO THE CLOWN SHOW" (which developed into the spectacularly Chicago-Legendary "BOZO'S CIRCUS").
Also the late afternoon was a time slot for more Local Kid's Stuff and we were kept appeased with the likes of "ELMER THE ELEPHANT" and "GARFIELD GOOSE AND FRIENDS". (the last being particularly hardy in its longevity, going from 1952-81.) But then in 1956 a local show debuted on WBBM, Channel 2, Chicago. This was and is our Local CBS outlet, not affiliate as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Columbia Broadcasting System Television Network. This was a small, low key half an hour which had the title "SUSIE'S SHOW".
It featured just 2 people. We had local TV 'Jack of All Trades', John Coughlin, who provided the voice for the 'other' character one Mr. Pegasus, a living, breathing and talking Table. 'Susie' was one pre-teen-aged girl, Susan Heinkel off stage in real life.
The half hour moved along quite well and always following the same format. The show would open as we 'arrived' at Susie's house and after a little discussion, young Miss Heinkel would ask us if we'd like to go to her secret hide-away land, which of course, we would. (either that or switch channels) It was then that put her little Toto-like pup on her lap and sitting on a certain special chair, she would recite the magic incantation, "I wish there were a Land of Play! I wish that I could Fly Away!" And after that very lovely lady (to a 10 year old like me) would be lifted up and return down to this magical land of play.
During the course of the show's half-hour, the Young Lady was joined by one Mr. Pegasus, a table with a face, a 'mouth' (as he talked, the front drawer of the table would move opening and closing in a continued manner, seemingly in time with the syllables of words being spoken by Mr. Coughlin.
It was while in "The Land of Play", that some sort of 'moral of the Story came to the forefront. A little of the friendly chit-chat ensued and Susie would be ready to return to her home. She would simply sit in her same chair, little Puppy Dog in lap, and recite the opposite magical incantation of: "Take me Home, Flying Friend, Take Me Home!" And before long, presto-change-o, she was back. It would appear that these are aspects that certainly remind one of, and may well be a precursor to "MR. ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD"(1968-2001) which came along a full Dozen Years later!
One other un-changeable feature of the Show was, at some point, they would show a cartoon, which was the one single most used excuse for boys to admit watching "a GIRL's Show!!!! But I must confess that this tall, long legged young kid made me really stand up and take notice of the feminine gender all about me. (I guess that like Woody Allen, I had no latency period! It was with great interest that the CBS Network people viewed "SUSIE'S SHOW, real potential, real possibilities. So it was given the chance at "the Big Leagues". It was going on the CBS Network, to be screen and to be sent all over the World.
But first a little "Fine Tuning. The title was changed from the familiar "SUSIE" to the most proper "SUSAN'S SHOW." All the props, the scenery and everything got upgrades whether we needed them or not.
And the cartoons that they showed were always from Paramount Pictures. They were Popeye Cartoons, all! They ranged from the earliest 1930's Black & White to the 1940's Color Shorts. The titles ranged from the Black & White entries in the Series from Max & Dave Fleischer to the most formula-plagued Color Popeyes of Paramount's Famous Studio.
And for showing the Popeye series at that period, I must thank you Producers of "SUSIE/SUSAN'S SHOW" for initiating me to them,
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