|Major Mudd (Ed McDonnell), at Boston's WNAC-TV, circa 1973|
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Morgan White, Jr., and children's television hosts (including Boston's Major Mudd)
A few Saturday nights ago (actually, starting at 2 o'clock in the morning--so, technically, Sunday), I was a guest of my friend Morgan White, Jr., on Boston radio station WBZ; Morgan was hosting the station's weekend overnight shows (Friday night/Saturday morning; Saturday night/Sunday morning). These are the shows which were, until the first week of July, hosted by Jordan Rich (see July 1st post); the station has not yet named a new permanent host.
The subject of the segment with Morgan was children's TV hosts/programs, from decades ago--primarily the 1950s and 1960s--including such national programs as Bob Keeshan's Captain Kangaroo, Fred Rogers' program, and Kukla, Fran and Ollie. The latter show, telecast from Chicago, began airing in the late 1940s, and lasted until 1957 (at least in its first incarnation--it later reappeared, in other forms and venues). Although it was a children's program, Kukla, Fran and Ollie had, interestingly, a substantial adult audience.
We also talked at length about local children's hosts, and because WBZ is a Boston station, a number of Boston hosts came up during the conversation--such as "Big Brother" Bob Emery, Rex Trailer, and Miss Jean (host of the Boston version of Romper Room).
Another host we discussed was Ed T. McDonnell, better known as Major Mudd. The character of Major Mudd was an astronaut; the shows ended, memorably, with Mudd declaring "I'll be blasting you!" The show--a very popular program--was seen weekday mornings, on Boston's Channel 7 (WNAC-TV). It made its debut in 1961, and continued into the early 1970s.
While in high school, I had begun writing a great deal, and arranged an interview with Ed McDonnell, to be conducted at Channel 7, which was located in Boston's Government Center.
There was some sort of miscommunication, however (very possibly my fault); the day I went to WNAC, Mr. McDonnell, after the taping of his show, told me the interview was not on his schedule for that day, and he was unable to do it. I nonetheless took some pictures, including the one shown above. McDonnell is at the center of the photo (without his signature astronaut's helmet). The picture is likely from 1973 (I was seventeen, at the time).
Speaking of Morgan White: he hosted WBZ's overnight show last night (filling in for weeknight host Bradley Jay), and will be doing so again tonight (starting at midnight.). He'll also be the host of this weekend's overnight shows--in addition to hosting his regular Saturday night program, The Morgan Show, from 10:00 until midnight.