Posted tagged ‘vintage animal presence’

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…