Wednesday, February 25, 2009


If you think back for a minute about how lucky it was to have Channel 5 and Channel 11 when we were growing up, it will seem amazing. The GREATEST talents in kid show history were ours everyday (and four hours on Sunday). Chuck McCann, Soupy Sales, Winchell/Mahoney Time, Captain Kevin, Carol Corbett, these talented magicians integrated themselves onto the very wallpaper of our memories. That's the reason I became a puppeteer, because these so-called "grown-ups" made life so much fun for me and my pals. I got to know most of these heroes through the ignorance of my fortitude - - and my puppets helped too. I'm going to write about these folkses on this Blog, and today, it will be about the guy who first opened his Funhouse on WABD/5 in June of 1955 - - SANDY BECKER!!!

GeebaGeeba, Sandy, Sir Clive Clyde

The first puppet I remember seeing was JINGLE DINGLE. He was standing on the roof of a weather station singing the weather (is that like humming the scenery?)Sandy told me that when he started at Channel 5 (which was WABD at that time) he found Jingle Dingle in a closet (answering the question if Jingle was an elf or a fairy). Sandy was a puppeteer since he was a kid, but had just spent 10 years doing Young Doctor Malone on radio, so he had no puppets of his own. Leon Jason created Jingle Dingle as a toy and record:

. . . and hired famous puppet makers HOPE AND MOREY BUNIN to build the puppet (they created PINHEAD AND FOODINI)

(Sandy said STANLEY STINKER (below, left)was inspired by Foodini's eyebrows.)

Leon's idea was that JD was a "Weather Elf", so Sandy adapted the Weather Station franchise while building up his own little repertory puppet company. (This might be where Captain Kevin got the idea for his "Will Wipe-Out" weatherman character, but I'm not sure. I'll check with Mutual Media historian Howard Bacaaazeo and post a follow-up.)

Jingle Dingle actually went on to become a licensing windfall here in the tri-state area. And I really wanted one - - or two (the doll AND the puppet.) But they were sold out everywhere. Even, apparently, at the North Pole. But on one late Christmas eve, my wonderful dad, who was working at Macy's (the Miracle on 34th Street version), tracked them down! He called up Montgomery Ward, who had them!

After a promise from Mont/Ward not to sell 'em, and after a looooooong day at work, Dad got on the E train and took it waaaaay out to Jamaica, Queens (we lived in Woodside) and apparently, met up with Santa Claus there because the next morning, the Jingle Dingle twins were under the Christmas Tree, to take permanent residence in my heart forever.

Me and My Puppet Pals:

Jingle Dingle, Jerry Mahoney, Jingle Dingle Doll and Knucklehead Smiff.

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