Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Back in the day, WONDERAMA was the go-to show in the New York Tri-State area for fun & games & comedy & guests. It was on for fours on Sunday hosted by SONNY FOX, though it began as a 6 hour(!) program starring SANDY BECKER.I, of course, preferred LET'S HAVE FUN which was on opposite Wonderama but starred CHUCK McCANN with the PAUL ASHLEY PUPPETS as all of the above.
Here's how my trek to appearing on Wonderama began. . .

I get dragged to a CAR SHOW at the Coliseum on 59th & Columbus Circle here in NYC by a new friend I had just met in school. Never had much interest in cars (still don't) but oh well what de hell I went. Fenders, bumpers, engines = meh.
Then suddenly my eyes fell upon an oasis in a desert of tin. There was a poster bellowing:

Right there! So I was right there. Like clockwork Jimmy appeared on the stage and from beneath a lecturn he produced his partners DANNY O'DAY & FARFEL THE DOG.
For those of you who don't know who he is, Jimmy Nelson was in the Top Tier of Classy Vents in the 50's and 60's.
. . . PAUL WINCHELL. . .
. . . and JIMMY NELSON.
He will forever (how long is "forever" in a culture that goes POP?) be remembered for his classic NESTLES QUIK COMMERCIALS.
Well, his act was GREAT and afterwards I wended my way backstage and met his eyes and told him "I can talk without moving my mouth" which I said without moving my mouth. He told me "Hey, you're good. Do you want to see my dummies?" It wasn't an etching but I couldn't say no. In fact I FLIPPED!!! So we go on the stage and - - I still think this memory is beyond cool - - he unlocks a door on the back of the lecturn and there sat Danny & Farfel. And he let me manipulate them! That was the first time I ever worked a professional dummy with a hole in the back and it's head on a stick.
After a while he said to me "why don't you call my friend Norman Berger . . . (Norman! If you're reading this? THANX!) . . . he's the producer of WONDERAMA. I'll tell him to expect your call, then you can set-up a time to audition." That was heaven. Yes it was (except it meant if I got on I'd have to miss LET'S HAVE FUN. What a choice!)
It's telling that all these people I admired that I met as a child:


. . . they all gave me a real-life boost in this make-believe art. THANKS GUYS!!!
A few weeks later, I was on WONDERAMA.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Craig,

    I love these photos from"Wonderama","Let's Have Fun!"(Chuck & Paul's

    version of the show)and Paul Winchell's,Jim Nelson's and Sandy's puppets.

    I also have fond memories of watching"Wonderama"(The Sonny Fox

    Version) and"Let's Have Fun!"too.

    I'm sorry that there are no kinnie films of Sandy's edition of "Wonderama!"that survive.


    Someone has kinnie films of Sandy version of the show and

    "LHF!"(Chuck & Paul's version)along with all of Sandy's former

    NYC based kids tv shows and Jim Nelson's"Studio 991/2"and they

    will make them available again to their fans in the near future?

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


    P.S. I got my PC working again..I can only hope and pray that

    it wont go on the fritz on me again.