Old-time TV personalities

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Old-time TV personalities

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:45 pm

75 mentioned All-Star Wrestling and Channel 4 in Bloomington, later Indianapolis, IN.  This brings up a topic I started on "that other forum" a couple years back and got nowhere.  This group is lots more open-minded, and, with 75's input, perhaps we can bring share a few memories, and I may gain some information I have sought for several years.

My mom went to work for Sarkes Tarzian, Inc., on East Hillside Drive in Bloomington, IN in the fall of 1957. Sarkes Tarzian built TV tuners and operated TV and FM radio stations.  He was the first millionaire I ever shook the hand of, and I was impressed.  Her first job was running a machine that washed the "sticks" that tv tuners used.  She later became a "winder" working on the tuner line.  Her job was to "wind Channel 3" which meant that she ran a machine that would wind fine wire in a certain pattern on the plastic stick that would tune Channel 3 in the TV tuner.  That was a big deal to my mom.  She could, until the day she died, take a tv tuner apart on the kitchen table, clean it, adjust it, align it and it would work perfectly in the TV.  TV repairmen would bring my mom tuners at home, she would repair and clean them, and charge $15.  I digress.

Since Sarkes Tarzian, Inc., was a part of our family, naturally his broadcast media were enjoyed, and its personalities followed, in our household.  Janie Woods, Herb Isaacs, Chuck Marlow, Les The Cartoon Man were all heroes of my youth, and were Channel 4 personalities.  Indianapolis broadcast media was rife with colorful and memorable characters.  WIBC, 1070 AM "The Friendly Voice Of Indiana" was the first clear channel 100,000 watt station I ever encountered.  You could get WIBC on a car radio nearly everywhere in Indiana.  "Bouncin' Bill" Baker, "Easy" Gwinn, Fred Heckman, Harry Andrews, Jim Shelton, and Sid Collins "The Voice of The Indianapolis 500" were some of its personalities.  Harry Martin was on Channel 6 WFBM and on WFBM radio.  He had a gopel quartet who had a 15 minute program on tv every morning right after the National Anthem.  "The soft singing sounds of the Old Fashioned Airs Quartet" would start out day.  WIRE, 1480 AM was the local country music outlet.  Bill Robinson, Lee Shannon and Ken Speck would spin the platters from 6am to when the station signed off at 7pm in the evening.  I could get WIRE on my truck radio most places north of,say, Owen County, Indiana up to almost Fort Wayne before a Ft Wayne station would crowd it out.  WOWO radio in Ft. Wayne had a morning farm show "The Little Red Barn" that my grandparents listened to occasionally. (On the old Grunow radio in my avatar) I had a second cousin who was a personality on that station.  The jingle on the "Little Red Barn" show is one I have been trying to find for many years.  It was unique and memorable.  The heavy hitter playing country music in central Indiana was WJJD in Chicago.  Another 100,000 watt station "A broadcast service of Plough, Incorporated" I could get WJJD on my Buick radio, at noon, like it was broadcasting from the front porch.  That was before the time of CFL's and cellphones, however.  There is a 100,000 watt clear station less than 20 miles from here that has lots more noise than WJJD did almost 200 miles away!  There were four TV stations in Indianapolis at the time.  WFBM, Channel 6,(NBC) WISH_TV, Channel 8 "broadcast from the Riddick Building",(CBS) WLW-I, Channel 13,(ABC) and, later WTTV,Channel 4.(Independent)  They all have different call letters now and have changed owners.  WTHI-TV, Channel 10 in Terre Haute went on the air in 1954.  WTWO, Channel 2 in Terre Haute, went on the air in 1965 or so.  We could get both of these stations with our 40 foot tv tower located north of Indianapolis about 40 miles.  Back to Channel 4.

The first Channel 4 personality that I remember was Les The Cartoon Man.  I never heard Les' real name.  He had a cartoon show at 4pm each evening that we would watch after we got off the school bus, before grandpa got home from work.  He showed Popeye cartoons and Looney Tune cartoons.  Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, that bunch.  Channel 4 was one of the most innovative TV stations in the country at the time, and was advertised as such.  Due to its association with Sarkes Tarzian, the sound on Channel 4 was better than other stations.  Our big RCA console with its 12" speaker sounded really good on Channel 4.  Channel 4 was the first color station in Indiana, the first with stereo sound, and introduced me to movies that I would never have seen otherwise.  They played movies all day on Sundays.

In about 1959, Herb Isaacs replaced Les The Cartoon Man.  "Happy Herb and Popeye" was the new name of the show.  Happy Herb introduced me to the Sing Along With Mitch recordings.  He had the little red dancing ball above the words.  "Wait For The Wagon" "On Top Of Old Smokey""O Suzanna" were some of the popular songs for kids he played.  Herb Isaacs got a 15 minute sports show after the late news on Saturday and Sunday evenings.  He and Chuck Marlow started broadcasting Indiana University, Butler University and local high school basketball games on Channel 4.  Happy Herb became Herb Isaacs and was replaced on Popeye by Janie Woods.  "Popeye and Janie" was now the name of her show.  I don't remember too much of her, since I was getting pretty old to be watching Popeye cartoons by this time.  I know she was a fixture on Channel 4 for years.  She was pretty young then, maybe in her early 20's.  Herb Isaacs was about five years or so older.  That would make Janie, if she is still around, in her middle to late 70's now and Herb Isaacs in his early 80's.  Chuck Marlow was considerably older than either of them.  

I don't remember what year it was, but "Big Time Wrestling" was introduced on Channel 4.  Chuck Marlow gave the "blow by blow" coverage.  The stars I remember were Richard K. Bruiser (Dick the Bruiser), Cowboy Bob Ellis, Angelo Poffo, Bobby Heenan.  Cowboy Bob was a "good" guy and would always win.  The usually gave him an opponent who was well-paid to be a professional punching bag.  Dick the Bruiser was a "bad" guy.  He jumped on people from the top rope, would "close line" his opponent.  He was the master of dirty tricks and got booed by the audience.  Angelo Poffo was also a bad guy.  Dick the Bruiser was reputed to be the stage name of a local Cadillac dealer, Ed Tutwiler.  I'm not sure this was accurate, but Ed Tutwiler never appeared on tv as himself.  He always had an actor represent his dealership.  

The name Dick the Bruiser has an interesting side note.  There was a kids show on Channel 4 on Saturday mornings, called the "Lowell L. Owl Show".  Lowell L. Owl was an owl hand puppet, operated by either Janie Woods or Herb Isaacs, or both.  He would have local personalities on his show, tell corny kids jokes, and generally act obnoxiously.  He had Dick the Bruiser on his show one day, and gave him the name of Richard K. Bruiser in an effort to make him "act right."  The name stuck, and, as far as I can remember, he wanted to be called Richard K. Bruiser henceforth.  Of course, Chuck Marlow picked up on this, and made the story bigger than it was on the wrestling show.

Big Time Wrestling became All Star Wrestling.  Why, I have no idea.  The same personalities, with new ones introduced.  Bobby Heenan was a professional puching bag on BTW, but on ASW, he was a star.  He was still active when the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) came into being.  So Big Time Wrestling is still on tv in the persona of WWE.  It all started on Channel 4 in the late 1950's.  

Sarkes Tarzian's radio stations, WTTS AM and WTTV-FM were innovative in their own right.  They were broadcast from his tuner plant on East Hillside Drive.  WTTS was not a clear channel, but may have been broadcast like one.  The tone quality was amazing for a station that played elevator music.  WTTV-FM was the first stereo FM station anywhere, and was basically simulcast with WTTS.  Elevator music selected for its high fidelity.  There was no country or rock broadcast on one of "Sarkie's" stations.  Sarkes Tarzian also had a rectifier plant in Bloomington, where they built selenium rectifiers.  RCA  had a plant just down the road from Sarkes Tarzian's.  Mom was always on grandpa about his preference for RCA TV sets.  Apparently, they did not employ Sarkes Tarzian tuners.  I know Zenith did.  Mom and dad had an early '70's Zenith TV that mom redid the tuner on.

This brings up my inquiries.  There is a well-known member of "that other forum" who lives in the Indianapolis area.  I sent this member a PM asking for information on Indianapolis electronic broadcast media personalitites.  Where I could get the information, what he may have himself, that kind of thing.  I did not even receive the courtesy of a reply.  Not even a "get lost" reply.  (Anyone who would recognize this person would likely not be shocked by his behavior, as I rather expected this of him).  Does anyone reading this have any information on the stations or personalities that I have just mentioned?  Is there a radio club or similar that could provide this information?  Like what are they doing now, are they still around, any trivia connected with the stations or personalities.  Was Ed Tutwiler really Dick The Bruiser?  When did Sarkes Tarzian sell Channel 4.  Sarkes Tarzian, Inc, still exists as a broadcast medium owner and operator.  What ever happened to the East Hillside Drive plant in Bloomington?  The last I was there, over 30 years ago, it was still standing, but was vacant.  Is "Rectifier" still standing in Bloomington?  What happened to the old RCA plant in Bloomington?  Is WTTS/WTTV still there and on the air?  I know WIRE and WJJD are both long gone.  WFBM has changed its call letters, to what, I don't know.  Is WISH-TV still there?  How about Ables' Auto Company at 1030 North Meridian Street.  A multi-story car dealership that sold cars up to 10 years old and was an adventure in itself.  How about the Circle Theater in Indy, where Jim Shelton broadcast his "Pick A Pocket" noon-time radio show for years.  And, last, but not least, can anybody tell me what became of the Magnavox complex in Fort Wayne?  I spent many a day hauling coal to their power plant. And what ever happened to Bob Catterson Buick? "If, yes if, you can buy a new Buick for less money than Bob Catterson Buick, you buy it!" I bought me last new Buick there in 1974.

"75", I hope you can come up with more details that I have provided here.  Thanks for sharing.

Regards

WC

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Re: Old-time TV personalities

Post by Dr. Radio on Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:52 pm

I love these kinds of personal time-trips. Thanks for sharing WC.

Somewhere, unless I tossed them out years ago, I have some Sarkes Tarzian reel to reel tape in the original boxes my Dad bought new. I seem to recall one might have been new-old-stock that had a little flyer/brochure about S-T and their products and locations.

When I read about what you wrote about your Mom, the first thing I said is "wow, what a woman!" That's really neat about the pros coming to her for her expertise.

Here's a little trick I use to take virtual tours and e-vacations if you want to see what a place looks like now; type in the then-most-recent address of the factory, dealership or business you grew up with into google maps and use their street view system (if available for that location). I did that to see where my GE radios were built in Utica, NY and my VIZ vtvm was built in Philly. Sometimes it can be bittersweet, as many once great names in the US are nothing more then a burned out shell of a building.
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Re: Old-time TV personalities

Post by 75X11 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:53 pm

WFBM changed it's call letters to WRTV, when, I don't know. Most of the personalities you mention I remember. My older sister thinks I'm strange as a 3 dollar bill for being able to remember such things. I started watching channel 4 about the time Herb Issacs handed over to Janie Woods. I can remember most of the news anchors in Indianapolis up until the time that David Letterman started doing the sports and/or weather on weekends at WLWI. Ask away one at at a time and I will answer the best I can. I can cheat somewhat on WFBM as I found a copy of their history on Ebay.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:52 pm

Channel 10 in Terre Haute had its own personalities. Harry Frey was the news anchor, Dave Kirk was the weather man. He used a magic marker on his weather map and drew "that old thermal low over AZ" and arrows for wind direction, and wrote the temps of various cities as he went, looking at a monitor for information. They had a new sports guy, fresh from college named Bob Forbes. Bob went on to become the voice of the Indy 500 radio broadcasts after the death of Sid Collins and the resignation of Paul Page. The last time I heard of Bob Forbes, he was with ABC sports. Bob Koob took over from Harry Frey, and I don't remember who took over for Dave Kirk. Tony Hulman owned not only most of Terre Haute, IN, but also the Indy 500 racetrack, and still does. Hulman and Company made Clabber Girl baking powder. Columbia Records had a stamping plant on North Fruitridge Avenue, just across the tracks form Clabber Girl. Hulman and Company originally owned WTHI-TV and also its AM and FM operations. WTHI-FM became "HI-99" an FM stereo country station. WVTS was the competing FM stereo station, broadcasting high fidelity elevator music, ala WTTV-FM in Bloomington. It later went to country. WPRS in Paris, Illinois was another big Country FM station and featured Bill Robinson after the demise of WIRE in Indianapolis. WPRS was mono FM. The highlight of Terre Haute broadcasting was a country personality on "HI-99" named Cork McCord. His sponsor was Beezy Implement Company, a big local John Deere dealer. He always ended his show with "brought to you by Beeeeeeeeeeeezy Implements in Marshall, Beeeeeeeeeezy Implements in Flower and Jones and Beeeeeeeeeeezy Tractors in Terre Haute. And rrrrrrrremember, nnnnnnothing, runs like. A Deere. I'm Cork McCord." You had to be there to get this, but it sticks in my memory. Cork McCord was a DJ very early in WTTS/WTTV history in Bloomington, for Sarkes Tarzian, Inc.!

Regards

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:10 pm

Harry Martin and his wife were friends of my grandparents.  Harry and his wife were deeply religious.  His partners in the gospel quartet was a guy named Jim and his wife.  My memory of Jim is fairly faint, but as I recall, he was a sound guy with WFBM-TV.  He and his wife were about my grandparents' ages, so he would be gone now.  Ditto Harry Andrews.  He appeared at every farm implement dealer, CO-OP, and state fair ever in Indiana while he was alive.  He was the Farm Director at WIBC, was well-spoken and interesting, and everybody knew and liked him.  He was up there in years when I was a young adult, so he is likely gone as well.  The last I heard of Jim Shelton and Fred Heckman was on an Indy 500 broadcast, but that must have been close to 30 years ago.  Jim Shelton usually broadcast from the backstretch and Fred Heckman from the pits.  Paul Page and Donald Davidson were in the "Master Control Tower."  If these two gentlemen are still alive, they are up there pretty good in age.  Paul Page and Donald Davidson are still around.  

Chuck Marlow and Les The Cartoon Man are no doubt gone.  Janie Woods and Herb Isaac may be a different story.  I would like to know more about them.  Google is not my friend here, it seems.  I heard that Bob Catterson had died.  His dealership is probably owned by Auto Nation or somebody like that by now.  It was on the east side of Indy out by the RCA record plant, IIRC.  Ogle-Tucker was another big Buick dealer in Indy, but I'm sure they are long gone.  Any information you can provide that I don't have will be appreciated, even if I already have it.  I may not have it RIGHT!

IIRC, WLW-I, channel 13 "An AVCO broadcasting company" was actually based in Cincinnatti, OH, with a repeater in Indy, in it's early days. Channel 13 became WTHR during the Dave Letterman days. The early days of Channel 13, which broadcast Lawrence Welk could be really weak and provide a snowy picture at times of inclement weather. The other two Indy stations did not suffer that problem. Channel 4 could be pretty weak, as well, until they moved their operations to Indy. No doubt to take advantage of more robust advertising dollars.


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WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:10 pm

I just found that WIBC 1070 AM is now WFNI (The Fan) 1070 News/Talk.

WIBC-FM 93.1 FM is now the "real" WIBC.  This frequency has been used by eight different radio stations since 1961.  WIBC-FM was the original station, ironically.

WFBM is now WDNE

WIRE is now WXNT

WISH/WIFE is now WTLC

WTTS AM and WTTV-FM are now just WTTS-FM 92.3.  That is the old WTTV-FM frequency.  It is still owned by Sarkes Tarzian, Inc. 205 S. College Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana

WTTV, Channel 4 is now listed as being located in Bloomington, and serving the Indianapolis market.  Owned by Tribune.

WVTS is now WVTS-FM 94.5 in Dunbar, WV.  Also WVTS AM 950, simulcast with WVTS-FM

Fred Heckman abruptly left WIBC in 1993 after a dispute with its new owners.  The station changed hands again, in 2000, and Fred returned.  Apparently he has a program on WIBC-FM that is well-regarded.  He has to be up there pretty good in age!
Other WIBC personalities I had forgotten about are Gary Todd, Orly Knutsen and Jerry Baker.  Jerry Baker was the voice of IU basketball.  These gentlemen are lots younger than the ones I mentioned earlier.

WPRS/WACF is still in Paris, Illinois, still broadcasts country music, still serves the Terre Haute, IN market. WACF is now the FM side at 98.5. WPRS is now AM at 1440. Apparently simulcast, just like in the good old days. My memory here may have been faulty, per my loyal bride. She remembers WACF being the mono FM station back in the day. One possible reason for my reasoning is that my Mack only had an AM radio. I listened to Bill Robinson "the B.R. Road Show" on AM. We listened to it at home on FM. Hence my confusion. AND.....it has been over 40 years.


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WC

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Re: Old-time TV personalities

Post by 75X11 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:51 pm

They sure shuffle fast. Here is a fellow who used to do the Saturday morning thing on WFBM.

http://halfryar.com/
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Post by 75X11 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:04 pm

I remember when WLWI was a Crosley brodcasting company. Before I started school, I used to watch the Ruth Lyons 50-50 club at noontime and part way through the program they used to have a song the band would do for station identification naming off the WLW affiliates. I remember it was tough many times to watch 4 during the early evening because it was such a fringe area station for us, but they carried such good stuff for the younger folks. Wasn't it 4 that carried Sammy Terry with the horror films?
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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:50 pm

Bob Braun took over for Ruth Lyons. I had forgotten about her.  Shocked 

Sammy Terry was on, but I don't remember him being on Channel 4. Most of their productions were in-house. They were not big on canned programming. I wasn't allowed to watch horror programming, such as "The Twilight Zone" or even Alfred Hitchcock. Grandpa used to like "Mike Hammer" and "Dragnet". Grandma even had a fit about those programs as "not bein' fittin'" for little goomers like me to watch! WLW in Cincinatti had booster transmitters all over the place. WLW-T was one we used to get when the wind was from a certain direction. We had a 40 foot tower with the TV antenna and a radio and an FM antenna on it. We got programming that nobody else got.

During my search on old radio stations from my youth, I ran across WKZI, in Casey (KA-zee), Illinois. When I was hauling grain from Clinton, Indiana to Evansville, I listened to both WKZI and WPRS on the AM only radio in my old V-8 Mack. The announcer who did the station identification on WKZI would string out the word Casey to "CCCCCAAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZEEEEEE. I wonder if Cork McCord spent some time at WKZI? Making certain words longer was his forte'. I'm gonna look up WKZI's frequency. I do not remember.

Regards

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:00 pm

WKZI AM is at 800 kHz. It was a country station back in the day, but is now Christian contemporary.

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WC

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Post by Guest on Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:04 pm

I don't know any of these stations but that's due to the fact that I grew up in southern Connecticut and we got all NY City TV stations with only one station in New Haven Connecticut and that didn't come in as clear as the NY City stations.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:32 pm

My job at home was to run all the electronic broadcast media devices. My grandparents were as dumb about TV's and radios as I am about computers now.  Rolling Eyes 

The RCA combo we had was a model that had the number "1000" in it. Like a "T-1000" or an "F-1000". It had a 16" (?) TV, a 45 rpm record player and a 33-78 rpm record player. AM-FM radio, too. It had a 12" speaker and was really a pretty good rig. In 1956, grandpa bought an RCA color set, probably like a 21" (?). It was one of the early RCA chassis that was reputed to catch fire and burn your house down. Ours never did that, but was so unreliable, we usually used the old 1950 black-and-white RCA, since it was lots less trouble. CTC-100 sets in my "remembry" for some reason. Lawrence Welk was black and white, so we used the old tv for that. God help us if the TV broke during LW. About the only time the color set was used was on Sunday evenings, for "Wonderful World of Disney" and/or "Bonanza" the only two shows in color, that we could get. Channel 4 showed movies on Sundays, and they were in color.

One reason that I remember all those call letters and frequencies, nearly 60 years after I used them is because tuning the radio or TV was my job at home. Grandma had no idea what channel LW was on, and didn't care. It was up to ME to get the TV on the right station and warmed up so she could watch her program. Same thing with radio. Grandpa told me who he wanted to hear, and I would tune in the correct station. I had to know how and where to turn the antenna for best reception. I started doing that when I was pretty young, like maybe 6 or 7 years old.

Regads

Wc

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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:28 pm

I have decided to call some of these radio stations, to get an accurate idea of what is going on. Thus far, my information has come off the 'Net. The internet is NOT always right, I have found.

WACF/WPRS in Paris, Illinois is only partly intact. I talked to a lady this morning at the station. WACF is now WIBQ, and has a news/talk format. WPRS still broadcasts Country music, mostly traditional (read: old) country. There is no archival information on Bill Robinson. His show was pre-recorded and broadcast on WACF.

The hunt is on.

Regards

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:36 pm

Here is a good blurb on Channel 4.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTTV

I had forgotten about Dave Mason Buick's ads!!  And, 75, you were right.  Sammy Terry was on Channel four.  He just died in June, 2013.

Another blurb:




http://www.theneitherworld.com/popeye/janie.htm
WC


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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:40 pm

A book is available on Channel 4 personalities. This station must have been a big deal in its day.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-famous-faces-of-indys-wttv-4-julie-young/1115081750?ean=2940016795454

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WC

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Post by Bill Cahill on Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:57 pm

That was model S-1000, built in 1949. It was their best direct view set made. Had a 78 rpm changer, the New 45 rpm changer on bottom, an am fm sw radio, and, 16" tv using the 16AP4 picture tube. The set sported a scratch filter for scratched records. It was an oscillator that detected scratches in the records, then, cut back on the treble.
This set was in a gorgeous solid mahogany veneered cabinet, and, all four doors in front had real crotch mahogany veneer.
Set weighs a ton, but, I wish I had another one of those myself. There was another model match to that one that was something like 9T390, that was the same set.
It's a monster, but, they perform very well......

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Post by Bill Cahill on Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:02 pm

By the way. Did anyone know that Shirley Temple passed away this morning of old age?? She was a great child actress..........
Did a lot of movies, and, had a good voice. The black man that was in several of her movies taught her to dance. He was fantastic. My mother used to tell me she had also taken dancing lessons from him.

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Post by 75X11 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:42 pm

That was Bill "Bojangles" Robinson who danced with Shirley Temple.
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Post by Bill Cahill on Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:52 pm

Yah. Thanks for reminding me.
I'd forgotten.

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Post by 75X11 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:55 pm

WC, WTTV was THE station kids and teens liked to watch.  They had all the reruns movies and cartoons we liked to watch and they ran them against the game shows, talk shows and even worse, the news.  I still can remember the night we were watching Sammy while someone sneaked into our house and robbed us.  We didn't even notice they were in there, we were so scared by the corny horror flick.  Remember the guy that pitched for Bob Catterson Buick in Indy that would go, no  body   but  no  body  can sell you  a new Buick  for less money  than  Bob  Catterson  Buick...   No  Body.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:37 am

And, on that vein, 75, I called my cousin in Indiana today and got some possible skinny on Bob Catterson. It seemed to me that I remember Bob Catterson advertising AFTER he sold his Buick store. My cousin seems to remember that Bob Catterson sold out to Dave Mason "Old Dave NEEDS the money". Bob Catterson did that commercial, too.

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WC

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Re: Old-time TV personalities

Post by Bleat10 on Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:39 am

Good post! I am a schoolteacher and I like to read posts like this because there is so much you can teach the kids by going through such information. I found some nice shows by Andy Yeatman as well and I am planning to show it to them on the coming weekend.

Bleat10
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Re: Old-time TV personalities

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