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St. Louis Local TV Hosts

Sam Sanders writes:
Here is a brief rundown of local kid shows in Saint Louis - I was born in 1964 and some were still on, there are others I never saw.

Romper Room toysKTVI-2-ABC (now FOX): Our Romper Room station. There were two teachers; the one I remember and met was Miss Lois. Lovely lady. Many of my friends were on that show at one time or another, including my next door neighbor. It aired from 7:15 to 8:00 AM daily and featured Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons and was sponsored by Hasbro, who made all of the Romper Room toys.

KMOV-(KMOX-TV)-4 CBS: The local show there was called "Cookie and the Captain." It was set on the ship "SS Popeye" and, yes, they were our local Popeye show. Did not get to see much of it, but Cookie, the ship first mate, was portrayed by Jim Bolen, who did weather in the evenings (many of the kid show hosts did that in Missouri). I forgot who played the Captain (it was Dave Allen), but I will find out. Jim went on the anchor the noon news for Channel 4 after CBS sold the station. He anchored with Robin Smith, who still anchors the noon news solo to this day. Robin and Jim had the same birthday but he died in 1994.

KSDK (KSD-TV)-5 NBC: This was by far the longest-running show I know of. Clif St. James (still alive) did the weather at night but dressed up as "Corky the Clown" daily; in later years, on Saturdays only. They showed Looney Tunes cartoons and had guests and kids live in the studio. There were several puppets, including Lorelei the bird who sang opera and pulled pranks. Sometimes Clif appeared on the show as himself in the later years. The program went off the air in the 1970s. Here is a link to a picture of Clif. He looks much the same now, but is in his 80s. Clif's son Scott was a very popular radio personality in LA and STL for years.

KDNL-30: This was my favorite actually - in the '70s, this station had a guy named Jack Miller dress as Mr. Patches and he would have birthday parties live on the air from his "Little Castle." TV30, as it was known then, was a fledgling station, so sometimes there was no party booked for several days - but it was fun when there was. The birthday guest was asked by Mr. Patches if they were "a hundred and what" today. This made the kids giggle and feel at ease. Mr. Patches was silly, did tricks, and talked to the kids and parents on set. He also showed cartoons, but I forget which (Popeye?).

In any case, the show came and went in the '70s. Jack Miller died in the mid-'90s, I believe. KDNL became our Fox station in the early days of that network. When the network had kid's programming mornings and afternoons, there was a girl and mascot character who hosted the afternoon time, called "Katie and Al Fox." Get it?

KPLR-11: Captain 11's Showboat. Captain 11 was hosted by local legend Harry Fender. Harry worked for KMOX radio and CBS Radio for decades as host and performer. In the '60s and '70s, KMOX Radio suspended their local swap/trade call-in show during the holidays for the chance for kids to call in to Harry portraying Santa Claus directly from the North Pole. Captain 11 came and went in the 1960s and showed Three Stooges shorts and had Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe on in person many times. This is when the Stooges toured the country and made movies. It was a very popular show, especially when the boys came to town. Here is a link to Harry's radio career: stlradio.com/hof-legacy-2.htm. KPLR became the leading kid's station in town after while with "Team 11," a group of singing teens who hosted the afternoon Kids WB block in the '80s and '90s After the other stations gave up on kids programming, many of my friends and I watched Looney Tunes, Ultraman, Gilligan's Island, etc. on Channel 11.

Bob Frischmann adds:
Jim Bolen died in 1994 in Belleville Memorial Hospital. The hospital misdiagnosed his abdominal aneurysm - Jim's wife filed a wrongful death suit that was settled before coming to trial for $750,000. I worked with Jim at Channel 4 in the early 1980's - he was a great person, a TV pro, and a true gentleman. I could tell Jim Bolen stories all day!


Captain 11

Mr. Patches / St. Louis TV Kerry Manderbach writes:
I have a bit more info about St. Louis' Kid Shows of the past...

Jack Miller actually developed his "Mr. Patches" character way before he became the host of KDNL's "Little Castle". He premeired the character on Monday, September 25, 1961 on St. Louis' KTVI Channel 2. Here is an ad for that show.

In the later 60's he was host of "The Treehouse Gang", also on KTVI before he moved over to KDNL. His "Little Castle" show became simply "Mr. Patches" in the fall of 1970, and by 1973 there was a waiting list of birthday parties that was reputed to stretch to 1980! He used to end each singing of "Happy Birthday" with a snappy "Cha-cha-cha!" Here is a shot of him circa 1972.

Corky / St. Louis TVCliff St. James (Corky) had two programs on KSD, "Corky the Clown" and "Corky's Colorama" where he would have puppets interact with his guests. Sometimes he had shows several times in a day on Saturdays, and sometimes back to back! Here is a shot of Cliff as Corky, and a clip from "Colorama".

Harry Fender aka "Captain 11" had the longest running show after Corky, which went from around 1959 (when the "Three Stooges" shorts were released to TV, and fantastic ratings), untill around 1968, when "Captian 11's Showboat" was replaced on KPLR by "Dark Shadows". Here's a publicity pic from KPLR of Harry as the Cap.

A typical weekday afternoon in the St. Louis
of 1961 had this TV schedule for young people:
4:00 pm
KTVI-- "American Bandstand"
KMOX-- "SS Popeye" (later to be called "Cookie and the Captain" with Jim Bolen as Cookie)
KSD-- "Kukla and Ollie"
KPLR-- "Captain 11's Showboat"
4:05 pm
KSD-- "Rocky and His Friends"
4:20 pm
KSD-- "Wrangler's Club" (with Harry Gibbs as "Texas Bruce")
5:00 pm
KTVI-- "Mr. Patches"
KPLR-- "Space Patrol"

These images and the clip are courtesy of the Media Archives Collection of the St. Louis Public Library.


I was actually one of the kids who celebrated his birthday on Mr. Patches. In my neighborhood, it was an incredibly popular show - and I remember my parents telling me about that insanely long list for on-air parties with him. I remember one of the sponsors being Red Goose shoes... I distinctly remember one major character on the show (who can forget Sydney the rubber chicken and his booming Tarzan yell, flying in on a string).

As the birthday kid, I remember a bunch of promotional "gifts" I got for being on the show as well as the fact I barely got time to sample my cake or ice cream because of the show's quick LIVE pacing. My dad stayed home during the taping and recorded the show on an old cassette tape. It's long since gone bad and become landfill material, but I remember listening to it periodically to relive the fun time it was.
- Jim Bullard

PART TWO - More memories of St. Louis Kid Shows

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Mr. Patches
"Saw your St. Louis Kid's Show site. Very neat! I lived next door to Jack Miller in Hazelwood, MO in the sixties. His wife's name was JoAnne and he had two boys, Scott and Mark. His wife made his Mr. Patches outfit. I was under ten, and remember he also put on puppet shows, especially Punch and Judy shows. He worked for the city of Kirkwood, MO until he died. In addition to being Mr. Patches, I believe he was also the first Ronald McDonald in the St Louis area that made appearances on behalf of McDonalds. He always had lots of junk food, candy, and cheap toys for the neighborhood kids."
- SOK1960


Another popular St Louis kids show was The Wranglers Club. It ran from 1955 to 1963. It was sponsored by Adams Milk. The show's host was named Harry Gibbs and he played a dairy cowboy named "Texas Bruce."
- Thanks, Jim Struckel

 

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