Archive for the ‘Vintage’ category

Vintage Cornball Kiddie Shows with Animals…

March 18, 2020

In the long ago, I was exposed to kiddie shows with an animal presence that probably warped me for life. There are many who grew up with Captain Kangaroo together with his cohorts Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. Not to be forgotten was Dancing Bear, whose unchanging face and looming presence could be oddly disturbing; I’m glad that he was benevolent.  Mr. Green Jeans, a farmer stereotype, would frequently show up with a baby farm animal of some sort. I often wondered about him…

Much less remembered were shows like Andy’s Gang, which featured actor and comedian Andy Devine, who in his prime tended to play sidekicks in westerns. Now Andy appeared with a strange array of animals that included Midnight the Cat (pictured top), Little Squeaky (a mouse), and a strange magical amphibian obviously made of rubber called Froggy the Gremlin. This character would appear in a puff of smoke, and always announce “Hiya, kids! Hiya, hiya, hiya!” The kiddie audience would then cheer with delight, and you so seldom see magical amphibians these days.  It was low tech and low budget stuff, but memorably high on the cornball scale. Kids could appreciate this kind of inspired anarchy, echoes of which survived much later in shows like Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

In the long-ago tradition of regional kiddie shows, cartoon segments and Three Stooges shorts were sometimes hosted by hapless adult humans who might be dressed to impersonate stereotypic police officers or sea captains. It paid the bills for them, and they probably laughed or cried all the way to the bank. We sucked it all down, and hungered for more…and while the adults scratched their heads over our interest, we kids knew that they would never understand…

The Campbell’s Kids…

October 20, 2018

The Campbell’s Kids, who I have always found vaguely disturbing, were the creation of well-known illustrator Grace Drayton, and were first used in advertising for Campbell’s soups in 1904.  They were quite the rage then until the 1920’s, appearing in streetcar advertising and spawning creation of popular dolls. The Kids fell out of favor from the 1920’s through 1940’s, but were brought back with a passion by Campbell’s in 1954 to commemorate their 50th anniversary.  Again, Campbell’s Kids dolls were rampant, and were even sold at venues like Montgomery Ward.  They continue to be collectibles, as do images of The Kids.

The Kids even predated Kewpie Dolls, which premiered in 1909. They kind of combined images of cherubs with the early 20th century conceptualization of what constituted a pretty woman. With their round faces, rosy cheeks, and chubby bodies they were considered both cute and an embodiment of good health; thin was not in during the early 20th century. To me, they always looked like they needed a dematological consult for rosacea and a weight reduction program.  In their round faces, we may even see a hint of the Charlie Brown that was later to come…good grief!  

It remains hard to enjoy a cup of soup without thinking of the Campbell’s tag line that it is Mmm-mmm good…part of the “healthful virtues” of soup promotion.  Just keep those Kids away from me, please…they look genetically engineered or cloned, and we all know about the black-eyed children…don’t let such into your house!  And if any Trick-or-Treaters come to my doorstep attired as Campbell’s Kids this Halloween,  I’m gonna freak out…

(tip o’ the pen to carycomic for the idea for this post!)