Thursday, April 23, 2009


The first make-believe character I ever saw was JERRY MAHONEY:
A vibrant Jerry Mahoney assisted by the world's best ventriloquist PAUL WINCHELL on his NBC Children's Show.
The first puppet I ever saw was Sandy Becker's weather elf JINGLE DINGLE:

Only Sandy could make singing about the weather entertaining.

Then one afternoon, a COOCOO theme song came on WPIX Channel 11, accompanied by this picture:

The camera pedded up to reveal two of the most amazing make-believe characters I ever saw in my young life. I was captivated! These puppets (who called themselves Stan & Ollie) introduced a film, and there unspooled a live-action version of the puppets who were just talking to me: LAUREL & HARDY!
After the film (that showed these two charming idiots trying to carry a piano up an impossibly loooooooong flight of stairs,) the camera cut back to the puppets saying goodbye. Then - - wonder of wonders - - from below the magical playboard up pops a smiling man to add his "see ya next time." This was my introduction to CHUCK McCANN!
Chuck McCann is, as far as I'm concerned (based upon a lifetime of learned observation and partcipation in the field), the GREATEST HAND-PUPPETEER OF ALL TIME. He took what was ostensibly a "Punch & Judy" art form (one man, hand puppets, multiple voices) and launched it into the modern era. Chuck brought style and exuberance to his manipulation, and married it to quality voice characterizations (splitting back and forth between puppets in lightning-quick transitions.) His puppets were made by PAUL ASHLEY - - again to my mind - - the greatest hand-puppet maker of the 20th century. I had to meet this man and peer backstage, for through his world-of-wonder, I knew who I was.
Chuck is mentor, friend, and patron saint to this puppeteer.
More to come!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Craig,

    Like you..I was also introduced to Chuck McCann via this

    WPIX TV Ch.11 NYC based film comedy wraparound tv series.

    I wasn't able to see the entire first that time I went

    to school in Manhattan and I lived in The Bronx.

    So..I missed the first few minutes of the show..I did see the

    end of the film"Busy Bodies"..where Stan And Ollie created havoic

    in that Woodworking shop.

    The show ended with Chuck appearing on camera,with both

    L&H puppets on his hands and talking one on one with the viewers

    at home.

    I loved the show and I enjoyed Chuck's recreation of the boy's

    comedy on "Laurel & Hardy & Chuck!".

    I also enjoyed the work that he and Paul Ashley did on"Let's

    Have Fun!"Sunday mornings and "The Chuck McCann Show"weekday

    afternoons on WPIX..during those days.

    Real people hosted fun kids tv shows.

    I also remember Sandy Becker's puppetry on Ch.5 weekday

    mornings and evenings during the late 1950's and into the 1960's.

    These three men really knew how to create,present and perform

    puppetry that went beyond the standard Procenium show.

    Paul Winchell is the best ventriloquist on TV.

    Mainly because he created characters that you can believe in and

    care about.

    He was also able to give them life..he made Jerry Mahoney perform

    on his own without Paul on the latter's Sunday evening ABC TV


    These guys were wonderful and I really miss this type of kids


    Many people rave about how unique and creative The Muppets



    For those of us,who grew up in the NYC/NJ/Ct.viewing are back

    in those good old days.

    Chuck & Paul and Sandy And Paul Winchell were the predicessors

    to The Muppets.

    Thanks For Sharing these rare pieces of NYC Kids TV History,