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Ray Rayner TV Show Ray Rayner
by You and Me

Does anyone remember the Ray Rayner Show that ran in the Chicago area on WGN in the early 60's? He would run really bad cartoons and in-between he would make "arts & crafts" (his always came out terrible, but he'd always have a nice example made by someone else offstage)

Ray Rayner ShowSome days he'd have a duck named Chelveston visit. The duck was pretty vicious, and Ray would keep feeding it lettuce so it wouldn't bite him. Other days he would "visit" his friend "Cuddly Duddley", a life sized dog "puppet".

The show was originally broadcast in black & white and Ray would tell us what color his jumpsuit was. It was never a normal color like red or green, but "chartruce" or "fucia". I would try to picture those colors as a kid, but suspect it was the same jumpsuit every day and he'd just tell the kids they were different colors for fun. I don't think he ran nationwide, just in Chicago.

- Sharon

 

Ray Rayner Chicago TV Show

Ray Rayner was a morning staple in Chicago. Ray was Oliver O'Oliver (from Tuffluck, Kentucky) on the noontime Bozo's Circus, which was broadcast live and had all of us running home from school for lunch. (People would write for tickets to Bozo before their kids were conceived because the waiting list was seven years.).

Ray Rayner was also the host of the afternoon Dick Tracy cartoon show in the early 60s. Here, Rayner sported a 2-way wrist radio like Tracy's, through which he would pretend to hear the call "Tracy...this is the Chief...," and the Chief would describe the latest trouble caused by Pruneface, etc., which would be the cue to roll that Tracy cartoon. Tracy followed a program featuring 3 Stooges and other old comedy films, hosted by Bob Bell, who was also Bozo.

Among other low-budget Rayner AM show feature was "Let's go into the closet" (very subliminal!), where he would find a marching band jacket and baton (no doubt borrowed from the Big Top Band on Bozo) and proceed to march around the set to some corny tune. Then, there were the traffic reports, which were an attempt to keep parents from switching to news on another channel. The reports were dubbed over a b/w aerial video of the expressways -- the same video shown every day.

Cuddly Dudley was a 2-foot high stuffed spaniel doll used as a subscription sales promo for the Chicago Tribune, WGNs parent. Dudley's voice on the Rayner show was Roy Brown, who also played Cookie the Cook on Bozo. The Ray Rayner Show opening and closing theme was the Warner Bros (Bugs Bunny) theme, which seemed like it might be copyright infringement, even tho these cartoons were featured. Diver Dan episodes were also featured.

- Mark

You can get highest marks in 642-447 using BCCPA and EMC Certification which are prepared by top certified professionals, 70-680 & 642-617 dumps; both are spectacular in their nature.


A few notes on Ray Rayner and Friends. The theme song for the 'Ark in the Park' segment (featuring Dr. Lester Fisher of the Lincoln Park Zoo) was called "The Unicorn Song" by the Irish Rovers. It was about Noah not being able to find a unicorn to take on the ark. The chorus goes, "I got green alligators and long-necked geese/Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees/I got cats, rats and elephants but Lord, I'm so forlorn/I just can't see no unicorn."

The seemingly impromptu nature of Ray Rayner's show was fascinating to me as a child. His jumpsuit was covered with little squares of paper (this predates Post-it Notes) and during the show, he would pull them off and read them to see what to do next (time for a cartoon, traffic report, visit with Cuddley Dudley,etc.). The "going into the closet" segment also seemed ad-libbed, although it probably wasn't. What he did depended on what he found in the closet. If he found a baton and drum major hat, he would march around the room to band music as previously mentioned. The director of show often used this segment to play with what I guess at the time were pretty cutting edge video effects: split screen, wipe, iris, kalidescope.

Other times, Ray would find some kind of costume in the closet, cueing him to lip-synch a song (usually from a Broadway musical). He would always set up the story leading into the song and then the camera would cut to him in a fairly elaborate stage set with a painted backdrop that fit the song.

Another segment was the PBS news (for Pretend Broadcasting System -- this was before NET had turned into PBS). He would sit at a table with a wire strainer with the letters PBS on it as a microphone. As I recall, the "news" consisted of viewer letters. In addition to Diver Dan and lots of Warner Brothers cartoons, another staple of the show was a live action "talking animal" series "Rupert the Rat, Kookie the Kitten and Bessie the Bunny, down on Animal Farm..."

Ray Rayner photoAnother later Ray Rayner incarnation on WGN (he was a one-man kidvid machine!) was an astronaut on a space ship introducing space adventure cartoons (great early Japanese limited animation classics like Gigantor and Tobor the 8 Man). The format was similar to his earlier Dick Tracy series.

Ray Rayner later moved to a station in New Mexico and is now retired somewhere out west (although I don't know exactly where). Most of the other Channel 9 kid show favorites from that time have passed away.

Thanks for the memories,

- Peter Jon Shuler
KQED-FM / San Francisco


I was lucky enough to be part of the original Ray Rayner & Friends and Bozo Circus crews from the early 60's through 1995 at WGN-TV. As a cameraman, later technical director, we were called "Chauncey" by Ray on the air.

I think Ray was the most uncoordinated person with scissors that I have ever known. More than once the scissors would get stuck on Ray's thumb. His craft projects, designed by Diane Flanders (wife of the director-Dick Flanders), were always a near-disaster. Ray was to make a copy of Diane's original craft (ornament, flower, etc.).

When he completed the project, he would place the original and his completed craft side by side for the folks at home to see what a terrific job he had done. Then he would start to giggle and finally laugh at himself. Glue on his fingers, table, jumpsuit, Chelveston, and any other thing in the vicinity was Ray's trademark of having fun on TV and hoping the audience would feel the same.

On winter mornings, Ray warned the kids at home about the cold weather and that they should wear their boots/goulashes to school. The crew would take off their boots/shoes and tossed them on the floor at Ray's feet. There were more than 20 pair near his barrel desk. We also "snowballed" him every winter during the weather segments. Lots of fun for grown men and women. He did not mind us being part of his show. Ray was the "true professional."

Live TV during the early years was the best of times. Ray Rayner was a TV pioneer.

Ed Archambault


Chelveston the Duck used to ride to work in a taxi, but now he travels with a messenger from the Animal Kingdom, where he lives. He rides in a green box with a small screened window, a conveyance that cramps his style; so when he emerges at the WGN studios to do his act on the Ray Rayner show three times a week, he is usually in a vile temper and works off his off his hostilities by pursuing Rayner about the set, nipping at his ankles.

- Ridgely Hunt,
in an article from the Chicago Tribune, 1968


The Ray Rayner show was my favorite show growing up in Chicago. As a huge Cubs fan, I watched intently as he did sports at 7:25 and I could see the highlights from the previous day's debacle - it was exciting to hear Jack Brickhouse yell "HEY HEY" a few times, even if the Cubs ended up blowing another one.

The jellybean contest was a real kick - he would have a contest where viewers could send in their guess as to how many jellybeans were in a jar. On the big day he would spend the show counting the jellybeans (real exciting tv - eh?), and the winners would be invited onto the program to get their prize - one of his do-it yourself projects (or you could select one of Chauncey's which were remarkably more well made). One year the jelly bean count came out to be something like 700 on the nose. He had about 150 winners - there was a big crowd on the show and he ran out of prizes.

I always liked the Cuddly Duddly part of the show where Ray would go to Cuddly's house and they would read jokes and mail that kids had sent in. Cuddly was somewhat sarcastic and picked on Ray a little, but always good-naturedly. The theme song went something like this:

We're off to Cuddly Duddly's house,
He's cute as we can see
With his fur of gold and his nose that's cold
He's cuddly as can be,
He has riddles and jokes but the fun that he pokes
Is never aimed at me
Here's the place that he lives and
The name that he gives is Cuddly

- Greg Busch


When Rayner marched about in his marching band outfit, the music (seemingly performed by a windup toy of bears playing instruments) was John Philip Sousa's "The Thunderer".

No one has mentioned Mr. and Mrs. David, who provided off-screen, non-verbal critique of the "Jokes and Riddles" (sent in by viewers) on the Pretend Broadcast System segment. Mr. David periodically attempted to break into song: he would sing "La la la" to the tune of "The Toreador Song" from Bizet's opera "Carmen". Mr. David always failed to hit the high note, which would cause Mrs. David to laugh hysterically.

Andy Starr (Bob Bell), who showed the Three Stooges and other old comedy shorts, was the caretaker of The Little Odeon Theatre in his half-hour segment at 3:30 PM. "The Dick Tracy Show", featuring Ray Rayner as Officer Pettibone, followed immediately.

Here's one I can't quite remember. When "The Dick Tracy Show" went off the air, it was succeeded by another Rayner effort in that time slot called "Rocket to Adventure". He had different featured shows for each day of the week - the old George Reeves "Superman" was on Wednesdays. Ray introduced anime (Japanese animation a la "Speed Racer") to Chicago television: two of the five days he ran "Gigantor" and "8th Man", both robot crimebusters. But I cannot for the life of me remember what shows were on the other two days. Anybody?

- Mark L. Peel


I am surprised that no one on your Ray Rayner website mentioned Ray Rayner's Rayner Shine (Rain or Shine) Dance Party. It was a Chicago-area "American Bandstand"-style teen dance show on Saturdays. The show had a call-in "guess-the song hits-and-win-a-prize" feature that I won as a ten year old in 1957.

I had decided to enter the contest the week before because I could see that there were almost no postcards in the twirling drum from which Ray picked contestants. Ray picked my postcard and phoned me from the studio. On the basis of a few notes I identified Elvis' "Hard-Headed Woman," something called "Dottie" (D-O-double T-I-E, Dottie you're the girl for me") and Bobby Darin's "Splish-Splash."

Loved reading about Ray Rayner, My children and I watched him and loved him in the morning on channel 9. We especially liked his hopeless attempts at projects. I'm so glad that someone mentioned the tv dance party that he and Mina Kolb hosted, my younger brother was on that show and he was talking when the commercial was on. Ray gave him a soft clip to the head and told him not to talk when the commercial was on, we still laugh about that. Didn't Ray pass away a few years ago? He was one of a kind, a Chicago treasure...

- Joni k.

"This is one of the reasons that the internet is great! I could bore you with endless praises for your Chicago TV coverage, but I have one crucial addition to the Ray Raynor segment;

"At the end of each show; A friendly reminder to dress appropriately for the weather, and - Last but not least - at the end of every show, the outstretched arm, with the open hand and his fingers wiggling wildly; BU-BU-BU--BU-BYYYYYYYYYYYYYYE!!!

"I can still see the joy on his face, as he sent nearly every Chicago area kid, safely out the door, with a smile on their face, and a laugh in their heart. Thanks for bringing back some fabulous memories!"

- Wes Fischer

 

 

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Ray Rayner, one of the most beloved stars of children's TV in Chicago through the 1960s and '70s, died Wednesday, January 21, 2004 of complications from pneumonia in Fort

Myers, Fla. He was 84.


"The thing I remember most fondly about the Ray Rayner show was the Hardrock, CoCo and Joe, and Susie Snowflake cartoons at Christmas time - and when he would go out behing the studio and plant tomato plants and hit golf balls in the spring. 2501 Bradley Place is an address I will always remember!"

- Larry L, Virginia Beach Va.


"I remember the Ray Rayner show very well. Throughout the 70's it was on WGN from 7:00 to 8:00. Then, when Garfield Goose and Friends was cancelled, Frazier Thomas became the ringmaster on Bozo's Circus at noon and Ray Rayner & Friends went from 7:00 to 8:30. Ray was always calling his off-camera staff "Chauncy". He was a real treat."

- Collin Freeman

Ray Rayner

staff
Special thanks to
Peter Jon Shuler
for sharing his memories
and these photos with us.


Background

Ray Rayner was a busy man in the Sixties. He had the morning show Ray Rayner and Friends from 7:00 - 8:15 every morning, Bozo's Circus at noon and Rocket to Adventure in the afternoons. And the ratings for all of those shows were through the roof - a 45 share for the Rayner show (that's 35,000 people, 45% of all televisions in the Chicago area) and a 40 share for Bozo's Circus (Rayner played Oliver O. Oliver on the show). All of these shows were seen on WGN-TV, in the days before regional 'news' took over all available local airtime.

As a young soldier, Ray Rayner was shot down over Germany and taken prisoner. For a while he as held the concentration camp made famous in the movie 'The Great Escape' (Rayner even participated in a small way in that fateful adventure).

Ray was moved to another camp before the escape and was cast in one of the shows the prisoners were putting on. "When you shoot down 2,000 Americans," Rayner observed, "you get a pretty good cross section."

The camp even had an orchestra, with costumes and instruments for the shows coming from Berlin. (Was this 'Hogan's Heroes' for real?!?) In a production of "The Petrified Forest" the acting bug bit - "I worked long and hard," Rayner says. "We rehearsed it for seven weeks, and I really did a good job. I was proud. After that, I knew I liked the theater."

It was in the middle of a production of "You Can't Take It With You" that the order came down from the Germans captors that everyone had to move out on foot - immediately! Russian troops were invading, and a several day long trek across the treacherous countryside followed. "You really learn what life is all about in prison camp," Rayner said about that time, "and what life is all about is food."

After liberation, Rayner appeared in summer stock for six years, then bounced around in radio and early TV before coming to the Chicago CBS affiliate in 1953. He began his television career doing commercials dressed in a gas station attendant's uniform, then started appearing on Popeye's Firehouse with star Mina Kolb.

In 1961, Rayner moved to WGN to join the cast of the Dick Tracy Show as Sgt. Pettibone - then a few months later joined Bozo's Circus as Oliver O. Oliver, the country bumpkin clown. The exaggerated southern accent gave him some trouble, evidently - Rayner's friend Don Sandburg (the writer of 'Bozo's Circus') called him "Ray Rayner - man of a thousand voices, all of them the same".

His very own show, Ray Rayner and Friends soon followed. Joining Ray on the show were Cuddly Dudley the puppet (operated by 'Garfeild Goose' puppeteer Roy Brown), and Chelveston the hyperactive duck.

"I'm not cut out to do a pre-school show," Ray Rayner told a reporter, "I'd be lousy at it. I feel my role isn't to be the educator in television. I say there's a place here for the entertainer. Kids can use an education in humor, in comedy, in enjoying a good joke."


Ray Rayner TV show

"I have always counted Ray Rayner as one of the top 10 influences in my life. He faced up to his artistic inability. He wished he could do better, but he wasn't ashamed of himself. He also exposed me to diverse styles of music: big band, marches and Broadway show tunes.

Along with my father, he is probably the major reason I am a Cub fan. Part of his newscast always included highlights from the previous days game."

- Matt Anthony


"I grew up in the Chicago area in the 60s and I always watched 'Ray Rayner and Friends' on school mornings. I sent in some jokes to Cuddly Duddly a few times and I received these post cards in the mail from the show. I'm proud to say I still have them after all these years.

I'm sending copies of 2 post cards that I received from the show. One is from the 1960s and the other has a postmark of 1972 on it. I hope you can use them on your site."

- Jodi Rugg

"I was able to get on the Ray Rayner Show in the late 70's. I was at West Point, and my mom HAPPENED to mention this when she wrote Ray asking if I could see the show. My dad and two sisters came with, and we got to see Ray shoot hoops with the state champion basketball team, Chelveston the Duck, and a Do-It-Yourself Project.

Ray talked to us afterwards, telling us that Chelveston was named after the air base he was stationed at in England in WWII. I have a Ray Rayner post card still, and the experience makes my displaced Chicago friends jealous. I wrote Ray a thank you note and sent him a West Point T-shirt after I returned to the Academy. He read the letter and showed the shirt on the air (at least that's what Mom said).

There was a Chelveston on the show that chased Ray around a lot and attacked his ankles. We thought that someone must have put food in the cuffs of Ray's jumpsuits. Remember the notes paper-clipped to the suit to remind him of what to do?

How about Turtle Races? I remember Ray almost dying with laughter because one of the turtles pulled into his shell and wouldn't come out. Remember too that Ray always reminded us to wash our hands after playing with turtles?

About ten years ago my Mom finally got tickets for Bozo's Circus. Remember how hard they were to get? I was visiting Chicago with my wife and (then) two kids with plans to go, when my boss demanded that I be back in Kansas for an important meeting. Grudgingly, we complied, missing our chance to see Bozo for a meeting that lasted two hours and was NOT important. Things even out, don't they?"

- Walt O

"Does anybody else remember his chalk board? He would post Chicago sports scores and the weather. In his unique Ray Rayner style, he would write the high and low temperature and include some bizarre fraction.

"For example, he'd say the high was going to be 65 and 113/543's. And then exclaim, "Ho ho! What a fraction!!" I'll never forget his reminder on chilly days: "Remember...sweater or jacket on the way to school today."

"How about those traffic reports that he ran with "Flying Officer" Jim Cavenaugh? Jim would give his report from a traffic copter and they'd run video of Chicago freeway traffic--same video all the time. One vid was summer, the other winter. The words "pre-recorded" were superimposed on the bottom of the screen."

- Bill Michaels

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