Thursday, 15 November 2012 18:47

Back when TV was in COLOR!  And we LIKED it!

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For you youngsters out there, any of you under 30, I want to let you know that, once upon a time, there was a period in time where things did not all suck.  Before media consolidation, when there were still independently owned radio & TV stations, when St. Louis had TWO daily newspapers, when even St. Charles had its own daily newspaper, when you didn’t have a telephone in your car and when St. Louis had some fun and weird, locally produced TV shows.

The closest thing you might have to this these days are re-runs of “World Wide Magazine,” a cable-access show produced by my pal, the late Peter E. Parisi.  But I realize that show started in 1985... and so did some of you, so this is probably a moot point.

Back in the magical time in St. Louis before Channel 5’s call letters got an extra K, and they were just KSD, and they were only one of three (or, depending on where you lived, six) TV stations  you got IF you had enough tin foil on your TV’s antenna, there was a show on Saturday Mornings produced at the KSD studios for kids.
“Corky’s Colorama” was the ironically named hour-long show that featured local kids doing their special tricks (they liked local bands a lot), some puppets and a clown named Corky.  It was an open secret that Corky was the alter-ego of reporter/weatherman (this is before they had to all be certified meteorologists) Clif St. James, who is now a nice, eloquent, retired fella living in West County who is often seen wearing very tasteful sweaters. The show ran (depending on sources) from either 1954 or 1964 to 1980 on Saturdays and, in my memory, late in the game, tried its best to entertain kids and sell Red Goose Shoes.

The ironic thing about Corky’s Colorama was, while the show was very proud of its color broadcast, it would show an old Republic Serial film every week.  Buster Crabbe’s Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers was there to amaze us kids, but alas, never in color.  (Over on Channel 4-- then called KMOX-- Fat Albert was in color and way more interesting to my young eyes but I would switch back to watch the Clown and the puppets.)

Corky’s Colorama also showed cartoons.  For whatever reason, I guess KPLR bought up all the good cartoons, the cartoons on Corky’s Colorama were short, color cartoons that featured Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.  Whoever booked the recorded segments of the show must have been stuck in the 30’s.  It’s a wonder we weren’t instructed to eat our “mush” or that “loose lips sink ships.”

The death knell came to Corky when the FCC and Action for Children’s Television decided that kids’ TV needed to be educational and couldn’t feature endorsements from the hosts of the show.  Soon, they would all be gone from the airwaves:  Corky, Mr. Patches, Captain 11, Bozo in Chicago, Soupy Sales, even the legendary Captain Kangaroo gave up after a while.  Because of this, kids tv is politically correct pablum that is embarassed to put itself in the same genre as the great kids’ shows of yore.

Do YOU remember Corky?  Were you ever on the show?  Did Mr. Zoom ever wish you a happy birthday?  Do you know what a Banana Flip is?  Do you still brush your teeth after every meal because Gentry Trotter told you to right before Popeye came on?  Leave your St. Louis Kids TV memory below.