Reliving My Childhood TV Habits, Philly Style


For throwback Thursday, I thought I would share some videos from the TV shows I used to watch as a kid, primarily on Saturday mornings. I recall how great it was to watch these shows while eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs or Fruit Loops.

I think many of these shows were only shown in the Philadelphia area, so some of you may have never heard of these people. But around here, they were big stars, especially to a 10-year old boy. I think at one point I had crushes on both Sally Starr and Pixanne.

Anyway, first up we have Gene London, the host of a long-running, Philadelphia local children’s show, Cartoon Corners (aka The Gene London Show) from 1959-1977. He was like Mr. Rogers before Mr. Rogers. Below is a clip that has an interview with Gene, with clips from the show interspersed throughout.

The Lorenzo Show, also called Lorenzo and Friends and Lorenzo’s Cartoon Festival, was a children’s television program starring Gerry Wheeler that ran in several different American markets from the 1950s until the mid-1970s. Here’s a clip.

“Wee Willie” Webber was an American radio and television personality and pioneer. Webber worked in radio and television in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region for more than 50 years. Here’s a video that talks about Wee Willie as well as offering clips from his show.

Chief Halftown was an entertainer who hosted a children’s show that aired on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia from 1950 to 1999. Halftown was a full-blooded Native American from the Seneca nation in New York state. His signature greeting was “ees da sa sussaway,” which is Seneca for “Let’s get started”. The show was almost like a variety show for kids. He was also a professional bowler and spokesman for the Brunswick Bowling Manufacturing Corporation! Below is a clip from a show I may have watched with my own kids…

Captain Noah and His Magical Ark was a television program for children and was generally broadcast around the Philadelphia area. The series aired from 1967 to 1994. The show was created by W. Carter Merbreier, an ordained Lutheran minister and former Philadelphia police chaplain, and produced by the Philadelphia Council of Churches. The show initially aired as a religious program beginning in 1967 before switching to a children’s program in 1970. The show starred Merbreier as Captain Noah and his real life wife, Patricia Merbreier, as Mrs. Noah.

Captain Kangaroo was an American children’s television series that aired weekday mornings on television for nearly 30 years, from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children’s television program of its day. The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan. Here’s a brief clip, and I am sure the music itself will bring back memories.

Sally Starr was a prominent 1950s celebrity television personality. Using a cowgirl persona, she appealed to local TV audiences of several generations of children through American radio, Broadway stage, movies and as a recording artist for over 60 years. Fans remained loyal in the Philadelphia area and embraced her cowgirl personality as part of their own family identity, and sometimes referred to her as “Aunt Sally”. One of the best things abou the Sally Starr Show was that she showed Three Stooges clips!

And last but not least, Pixanne! Pixanne was a popular children’s television program, created and hosted by singer-actress Jane Norman, that ran from 1960 to 1969. Norman appeared on the show as a “pixie” with a green outfit, tights and a hat with a feather. She worked out a method of “flying” using a similar apparatus to that which Mary Martin had used as Peter Pan, but with only one wire supporting her instead of the several that had harnessed Martin on stage.

And as a bonus, while I was looking up these various clips, I kept seeing mention of Tobor the 8th Man, one of my favorite cartoons. I remembered most of the words from the following theme song.

Watching all of these shows has made me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs…








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