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Philly Local TVGene London Show

 

gene LondonWhen TVparty first started a page for memories of The Gene London Show, we weren't prepared for the enthusiastic response.

People from all over the country have contacted us by the hundreds with their fond memories of this local kid show. So settle back and read some of the best Email messages we've gotten about Gene London.


I fondly remember the general store. Gene London was incredibly gifted in bringing his characters to life through voice and drawing. I was one child who was deeply impressed in a positive way by his talents. I've always thought about him and what he might be doing now.

I remember these words to the song.....

Come right on in to the general store
We've got licorice, gum drops, sour balls,
Anything that you're hankering for
You'll find in Cartoon Corners General Store.

And of course, I remember - The Golden Fleece that was in a chest and the magical drawings that were brought to life by the voices that Gene London would give to them.

His show was one of my very favorites. 37 years later that remains the case. :)

- Rita Lopez


I remember Gene London so well - someone had the first verse to the song - I was such a fanatic I remember the 2nd verse -
There's lots of stories and songs that you know
Toys to build and a big pot belly stove
Something else I've forgotten, let's see
Of course, Gene London, that's me!

Then a box would fall on his head and confetti would fall all around. Thanks for the memories - so many have come rushing back from this site.

- a reader


I was a temporary resident for 4 year in Collingdale, Pa while my father attended medical school in Philadelphia. I was about 8 years old and enjoyed the culture of the Northeast since I was from Texas.

I will always remember my friends Kenny Wilde (USN) (RIP), Frank Doyle, Jimmy Lieberknight and the rest of the gang near Mc Dade Blvd. The Mumurs Parade, Pusey Elementary, Hoagies, The Spectrum, The Philadelphia Warriors, riding my bike to Darby, Big Wheels, The Dallas Cowboys beating the Miami Dolphins, being chased by red-headed Irish girls, Jackie Delaney and Christine Sullivan, and watching Gene London on Saturdays.

Those were the days... Yo!!

- Mark H Reyes, Texas

I just remember Gene London telling a story while he illustrated it and CRYING as he did this. It was pretty scary to a kid to watch this grown man blubbering as he told a story. Anybody remember the theme song? It was something about the "cartoon corners general store". I believe that was the fictional store where Gene worked. Gene seemed to have a Disney fixation, and I'm pretty sure that he probably is now in possession of the cryogenically frozen head of Walt.

- Bill Jacoby


About ten years ago, while a bike messenger in New York City, I made a delivery to Gene London's apartment around 6th Avenue and 20th Street. I mentioned that I recognized him, and when he commented that he thought I was too young to remember the show, I responded that I remember the later seasons. The seasons that contained a purple puppet of some kind as a sidekick. Gene said he didn't remember any puppet on the show, and then after a moment of reflection, gasped, and said, "Oh, the PUPPET! I forgot all about the puppet. Working with that thing was so horriiible, I must have completely blocked the memory out!" With his eyes wide, his hands over his mouth, he thanked me for the package and sent me on my way.

- a reader


Growing up in the Delaware Valley during the late '60's and '70's, Gene London and his show "Cartoon Corners" were a big part of my childhood.

Gene was blessed with tremendous artistic talent, great storytellling skills, and a personality that appealed to children. I loved his show, and looking back on it now, can really appreciate the creativity associated with it. I fondly remember Quigley Mansion, the Golden Fleece and those amazing "flying" sequences, the stories drawn in crayon by Gene, and the wonderful storylines including a take-off on "The Wizard of Oz" that I still think was a tremendous undertaking for a locally-produced show, and a storyline about Gene's girlfriend Debbie getting amnesia from a jar that falls on her head. All of the productions were rather well done.

Gene's show taught us all about the importance of using our creative talents, and how we could share our creative gifts with others. Having been blessed with the same talent for drawing that Gene has, I could and can relate to his love for it. Gene London was part of the inspiration for me to use and share my talents. I would love to see tapes of those original shows to relive the magic. Thanks Gene...never forget the positive impact you've had on a generation of children.

- Frank T


I once had the opportunity to visit the Gene London Show, he was my absolute favorite. I got to be a participant and they set up a scene where Gene had to open the chest and remove the Golden Fleece. When Gene opened the trunk everyone was nearly overcome by a horrible smell. It appears that they had put oysters in the trunk, as part of the scene, and they had gone BAD! We all started making faces and yelling and they had to stop filming and fumigate the place. I also got to see Pixanne once and was thrilled when she came out to wander through the line as we waited for entrance into the studio. She threw Pixie dust on us and we all felt magical for the rest of the day.

- Eileen Zaccagni (Palmer), Phila.


I was on the Gene London Show in 1963. Right before the show, Gene came out in his orange pancake make-up and picked the kid in front of me to play Superman. He got to stand on a building and tear a telephone book in half declaring "I'm Superman!!"

The Usher who worked the crowd, would send kids up to stand by Gene's drawing board or help him in some scenes. I got picked but was too embarrassed to go up. I remember they gave out pictures of Gene but you had to wait for the cartoons till Saturday because they taped the show on Wednesday afternoons after school.

I remember Randy Brenner, the child actor on Cartoon Corners very well. I met him in 1981 at a Silent Film party that a friend and I were hosting in NYC. We talked about his Spike Jones mimes. He was great!! In those days a box of confetti would fall on Gene's head after his theme song. He is a great artist and he and Pete Boyle made me want to draw. Gene used to sing the "Let's pretend it's storytime" theme song from old time radio.

- Will Hill


I was the ultimate Gene London fan. I think I spent every Saturday morning during the early 1970's with Gene in Cartoon Corners. I loved the varied format, and enjoyed watching Gene draw. He made me appreciate animation and cartoons, though I didn't have the aptitude for drawing.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is the first "music video" I saw. It was a scene when Gene was racing in his convertible to the airport, to wave goodbye to his girlfriend Debbie, as she left for California. During the scenes, the Beatles song "Hello Goodbye" was playing. I can still see Gene standing on the runway frantically waving at the plane as it pulled away.

I remained a fan when the format changed to include the haunted Quigley Mansion, with its hidden inhabitants, the UFO and space aliens, and all the other variations they tried, in order to keep the show interesting. Yet, in trying to keep up the ratings, they changed the general store format that we all loved. The final season was the not-so-entertaining "Learndramat". But I still watched.

In November 1973, my 7th Grade English class had an assignment to interview someone "famous". I knew I had to somehow interview Gene London. I watched the next Gene London show and found the name of someone on the show's staff. I called Ted Field's telephone extension at WCAU Channel 10, to try my luck, hoping I could talk to Gene. I was so nervous that part of me wanted to hang up.

I knew I could never remember anything he might say to me, so I used my tape recorder, and held a microphone up to the telephone earpiece. This assured I would capture every word (but made it difficult for me to hear!). I got through to Ted Field, but was extraordinarily disappointed to learn Gene had left for the day. I had waited to the last possible moment to write my assignment, and felt devastated my plans had failed.

Fortunately, Mr. Field understood my predicament. He offered to get Jack Jones, Mike Tuck, or Herb Clark from the WCAU news to talk to me, or he could get Captain Noah (across the street at WFIL). But I hesitated, because they were not "superstars" like Gene. Finally, he said I could ask him my questions. This is what I learned:

Gene grew up in New York, and starting acting around 15 years of age. He enjoyed having his own show, but thought acting was hard because it ís difficult to learn the lines. He was single, and enjoyed children. His favorite TV star was Mary Tyler Moore. He did not play a musical instrument, and was not really into sports. His favorite food was hamburgers, though he ate a lot of different types of food. He was "over 35" years old, and always wanted to be an artist for Walt Disney. His favorite Disney character was Mickey Mouse.

Of course, many of my school friends didn't believe I had talked to someone from the Gene London show, but I had the tape to prove it!

- Kevin C


Greetings, I grew up in the Philadelphia area and was in love with Gene London for years.

When I was eight or nine years old, which was about 1970, I remember faking a stomach ache so I could stay home from school. My mother who was catching on to me said I was not going to get away with it this time and insisted that I was going to school. I played up my phony illness even more and she eventually allowed me to stay home.

I could see the school bus leaving the bus stop from our kitchen window, and as soon as it disappeared from sight I had a miraculous recovery. At about 3 PM someone knocked on our front door and it was my two cousins. They were very excited and could not wait to tell me that there had been a surprise assembly at school that day and the guest was none other than Gene London! I attended Walt Disney Elementary School in Levittown, PA which was the reason for his visit. He drew pictures and told stories and even made a huge drawing of Jiminy Cricket that was huge in the front lobby in his honor.

I cried for days knowing that I had outsmarted myself, by faking a stomach ache I missed meeting my idol Gene London. I still feel sad about that to this day and I am 38 years old. Gene London gave me some of my happiest memories and for that I am grateful.

- Rose A. R


Growing up in suburban Philadelphia I too have fond memories of Gene London and Pixanne. Having appeared on both shows (on Gene London with Cub Scouts ,Pixanne because of some family connection) they remain cherished memories.

I saw Gene on the street in NYC about 10 years ago, exclaimed how much I loved his show as a child and that I had been on the program. I asked him what some of his best and favorite memories were, and he proceeded to take out his wallet to show me an old picture of LUCILLE BALL when she did a guest appearance on his show.He had carried that picture around with him for all those years! Funny how we all share similiar obsessions.

- Larry Gordon


I also watched the Gene London Show as a child. I remember him coming to our school when I was in about 5th grade. He was a guest at our fair and he drew a picture of Snow White for me. I thought it was incredible. I carefully put it aside and decided that one day I'd have it framed. Unfortunately, my older sister got mad at me some years later and tore it in half. Although it's a sad memory, it's a story about Gene London and we end up talking about him at family functions because of the picture. (By the way, my sister denies doing this.)
- Maureen M

I wish that they would rerun the show! I would love to show this to my own kids and see it again myself. I was so in love with Gene, and how could you not be?

The stories kept you mesmerized (especially the suspenseful part and Gene's eyes got real big), the drawing was fantastic, and he was so darn cute! I remember the trips to the show from school. Sitting next to the drawing board in real life and being so disappointed! Why? The drawing was already on the paper. I later learned that Gene had done it before hand very lightly and then would go over it on the show so he didn't make a mistake on television. Even for a few moments to think my hero was something he was not blew me away!

Gene was my inspiration for my passion for learning to draw. I also remember Randy Brenner! He used to do Cocktails For Two. Glad he has stayed in the business and in touch with Gene. What ever happened to Debbie and Mr. Dibblepuss?

I was just reading about Gene in the Philadelphia Inquirer and I cannot believe that he is 70!! Then again, I can't believe I just turned 42! Good luck to you Gene in your future endeavors!

- Marsha G.


"There's lots of stories and songs that you know, Toys to build and a big pot bellied stove; Something else I've forgotten... let's see... Of course! Gene London! THAT" ME!!! (Cue the box of confetti)

Gene London was certainly a marvelous artist, and his TV show filled our house in the mornings for years. I remember the "Magic Window," in which many of Gene's stories came to life. Many were montages of Gene's drawings, set to music... some run together in my head with other morning shows, but I remember one about Tonto, the Lone Ranger's friend; one about George Washington ("the President on the dollar, the Yankee Doodle dollar.... George Washington's his name.")

This was programming that parents would pay extra for today, a precursor to much of the instructional viewing we have today. Float a trial balloon.... bring back Cartoon Corners for a month!

- Carl Blankemeyer


"My mother never had a better babysitter than Gene London!"
- Paul Straube


I absolutely ADORED him when I was a kid. I love watching him do the drawings. He did it so easily and quickly. I can still picture him feigning surprise at something, with eyes wide, mouth open, I don’t remember a lot about the show itself because I was fascinated with the way he reacted to things and people. I was quite taken with him. I guess you could say he was my first crush.

Liane L from PA


Gene London made a personal apperance at a Boscov's dept. store in Reading, Pa. quite some time ago and I was 11 years old at the time and asked my Mother to take me to the store to see him. The Auditorium was filled with kids including me right in the center of it all.

They announced him and out he walked as I sat there in awe cause I only ever saw him on TV before and now he was right there before me. He had an Easel on stage and proceeded to draw the most awesome pictures of cartoon characters or super heros and then asked the kids in the audience to scream as loud as they could and he would pick the loudest to award the picture to. Needless to say the noise was deafining.

Well, he drew a picture of Zorro on the easel and asked the kids to scream once more to see who would get the picture and me and my BIG MOUTH let out a heck of a scream and he picked me. I walked up on stage as he tore the picture from the easel and handed it to me as I shook his hand and told him I watched him all the time. It was a neat day back then and ya know that Zorro picture is still in one of my storage rooms - ha ha! Don't ya wish you could go back to those day's one more time?

- Bill Esterly


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GENE LONDON
ON THE TODAY SHOW

For a time, former NYC based kid's TV wraparound host/ puppeteer/ puppet-maker and instructor Gene London appeared on NBC's "Today" show during the time that Dave Garroway was host. London was the head puppeteer on the nationally syndicated version of "Johnny Jupiter" and the Shari Lewis version of Ch.4 NYC's "Hi Mom" and third host/performer and instructor of WABC 7 NYC's "Tinker's Workshop".

Mr. London engaged the kids watching at home in holiday craftmaking, hobbies, songs and relate stories about the creations of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, The Fourth Of July, Halloween, etc.

Gene was seen during the later part of 1958 into early 1959 but this didn't last long because "Today" was primarily meant for adult viewers. He would soon be hosting four new kid's shows: "Cartoon Corners General Store", "Gene London's Cartoons & Stuff", "The Wonderful World Of Gene London" and "The Gene London Show", weekday, Saturday and Sunday Mornings on WCAU-TV Ch. 10 in Philly, Pa. from 1959 to 1977.

- Kevin S. Butler

A Letter From Gene London
The Gene London Show
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A Letter From Gene London
The Gene London Show
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John Baker tells us about a once in a lifetime event: Gene London is planning a fan event in the area tentatively for  April, 2010... a stage presentation,screenings of some episodes of the show, a tour of the  Reading museum where he is currently showcasing pieces from his Hollywood collection. Aso quite possibly a luncheon... and meet and greet and Judy Bell the actress that played Gene's girlfriend on the show is participating.
More details to come!    

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I grew up in New Jersey, and watched Gene London nearly every day. Then we moved to California in 1968, and I never saw him again.

It was a lot of fun to discover this page and share other people's memories. However, everyone is leaving a couple of lines out of the theme song. Here's the complete lyrics:

Come right on in to the general store
We have licorice, gum drops, sour balls
Anything that you're hankerin' for
You'll find in Cartoon Corners General Store

There's lots of stories and songs that you know
Toys to build and a big pot belly stove
Cartoon fun with your favorites, so Let's ring up the curtain on this show

Those last two lines are the ones everyone leaves out. On the word "ring," he'd hit the cash register and make it ring.

Then, while the music was still playing, he'd talk to the kids and tell them what was going to be on today's show. He'd also do the bit with the boxes, picking up cardboard boxes with cartoon character's faces on them, and tossing them to the kids in the studio audience for them to catch.

Then, he'd stand in the middle of the floor and finish the song:

Uh-oh! Something else
I've forgotten, let's see -
Of course! Gene London!
That's me!

And BOOM! the box with his face on it would fall on his head, and confetti would fall all over the floor, and all the kids, in the studio and at home, would laugh hysterically.

I laughed, but I also felt sorry for him. Week after week, I kept hoping that this time the box wouldn't fall on him, and that he wouldn't get in trouble with Mr. Dibley for getting confetti all over the floor. And of course, every week it would happen again, and I'd feel bad. It wasn't until I was older that I figured out that he was an actor playing a part, and he wasn't really getting in trouble with Mr. Dibley. I felt better then.

- Grinnell Almy

 

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Good news for Gene London fans: Now there's a Gene London news group and Gene is involved in the project. Check it out here!


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This is John Baker from the "Gene London Yahoo News Group" Gene wanted me to email you and ask if you could post a message on the site to everyone out in Cyber TV land. Gene is adding items to his personal archive and wanted everyone to know about this new endeavor. He's asking that anyone with photo's, home movies or any memorabilia  related to his career contact him through the site or at CartoonCorner@aol.com. He's absolutely sure something mutually agreeable can be worked out with anyone willing to contribute.
                                          
Have you seen our pictures and video clips on the site in the files and photo's section? If you care to here's the group address  -  enjoy!! Also Gene is in the process of transferring select episodes of the show to DVD, more to come!


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