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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Karl the Karrot: 1955

Karl the Karrot: 1955

This button was a promotional piece about 1-3/4" in diameter, given out by shoe stores on the purchase of a pair of Keds, one of the sponsors of the daily kids' show "Fireman Frank" broadcast by KRON-TV in San Francisco during the mid-50s. Fireman Frank was George Lemont, a hip SF deejay who stepped into the role after the original Fireman, a roly-poly avuncular gent more in the style of a kids' TV host, dropped dead. Lemont's humor appealed as much to adults as well as kids; you could hear the studio crew guffawing off-camera at things that went over our heads. Between cartoons, Lemont brought out his cast of puppets, including robot Dynamo Dudley, the beret-wearing, bop-talking Scat the Cat and best of all, Karl the Karrot. Karl, as you can see, was a sort of proto-beatnik, literally a carrot with a pair of shades. His dialog consisted entirely of "blubble-lubble-lubble" while he thrashed about, chlorophyl topknot flailing. At home, we were all in convulsions on the floor.

The 50's Bay Area Christmas

While reminiscing about Fireman Frank and Captain Fortune, each Christmas, I always recall with grand fondness those early television trips to the North Pole escorted by the magic elf, Happy Hollie. "Happy Hollie calling Santa Claus at the North Pole... come in, Santa!" I believe it was brought to you by either "The White House", or "City of Paris". You could always be assured there'd be one commercial by "Mission Pac"... fruit packages for mail delivery to east coast friends. "No gift so bright, so gay, so right, send a Mission Pac on its way"

Rad Carrot

That is a mighty rad carrot with a hairy nose and wild hair. No wonder why he had some major kid appeal.

Fireman Frank 1955-57

Coming to the SF Bay Area and getting our first TV in April 1955 I only recall the latter (thin) Fireman Frank (with his weekday nightly KRON show after the early evening news and a longer one on Saturday afternoons with a drawing contest that I submitted to a few times).

Captain Fortune had an early Sat morn one on KPIX, with the stock intro showing a bunch of kids running up to a large Victorian-looking house on a hill. One of CF's standard features was to have one of the guests make some scrawl on a large drawing pad and then ask him to turn it into a specific item.

KPIX also had a late afternoon (pre-news) Deputy Dave featuring, of course, western films (vs cartoons). It seemed like that they all had Bosco as a sponsor (using a milk carton that had its brand obscured). He once had a contest for an (outboard) power boat - awarded for the best name for it. An acquaintance of my father won with "DD5" for Deputy Dave (Channel) 5!

The arrival of the Mickey Mouse Club on ABC (KGO) in October 1955 provided some stiff competition for some of these locally-originated afternoon kid shows.

The San Antonio show mentioned earlier was Captain Gus on KENS in the afternoons http://www.dmd52.net/blast.html
feauring mostly Popeye and Three Stooges fare, at least during the few seasons of its 2-decade + run that it had my attention.

Before Fireman Frank

George Lemont was to kids as Don Sherwood was to the adults. I remember his predecessor, Frank Smith, but George had a show before Fireman Frank. He was called Uncle George and would draw caricatures and cartoon pictures. He used clever cross-hatch shading on his drawings and would call them "the downtown treatment." I loved his puppets, but he reached a new height with the introduction of Karl the Karrot! Great days of kids' TV back then: Kris Kuts (the felt shapes), Deputy Dave Allen, Captain Fortune (Who's that knocking on my barrel?), Mayor Art, Crusader Rabbit (voice done by a lady from Petaluma, I'm told)and Captain Satellite (I remember seeing his first telecast on that NEW channel, KTVU). Del Courtney and Tony Petucci (Ralph Manza), Sandy (The moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free) Spellman, Fran O'Brien, Sherwood's minions, Bobby Troop, George Cerutti, Julie London, and Ronnie Schell. Great times.

Fireman Frank

Several commenters have asked about the first Fireman Frank, the one who George Lemont took over from. I just came across a post on a forum from someone who remembers, and the guy's name was apparently Frank Smith. So now we also know where the Frank came from.

THE DAY KARL "DIED" !

The "Fireman Frank Show" with Lemont was the best kids program ever and Karl The Karrot was special. Karl was a real carrot and noticably "age" or wilt every day due to the hot studio lights.

I clearly remember Karl breaking off in Lemont's hand during their dialogue and Lemont saying something like: "Ah kids; Karl is hurt but will be back like new soon. And of course Karl returned as a fresh new carrot for the next show. I'll never forget the shock of Karl's "accident" and "relief" at seeing him back better than ever for the next show!

My kids thought I was making this story up when shared during their youth. Thanks for the super comments.

Frank and Karl! Oh yeah!

Great memories. Loved Fireman Frank and Karl too. I remember Karl getting more wilted every day. And I do remember Happy Holly at Xmas time. This is the first time I have heard anyone else mention Happy. Those were great days for kids' shows. I had the TV pretty much to myself as my parents and older sisters had not acquired the habit of watching very much. I have been trying to find video snips of some of those old shows but they are rare.

Loved Fireman Frank!

Fireman Frank used to show "The Little Rascals" as well as cartoons. Plus he demonstrated how to make chocolate milk with Bosco. His puppets were hilarious. Scat the Cat had been in fights and had a rough voice. I think robot Dynamo Dudley talked in gibberish like Karl the Karrot. I had a Dynamo Dudley Club Card at one time. The funniest puppet was Rhode Island Red, the rooster. My mother would come into the room and laugh. I would love to see photos or kinescopes of that show. Where is this stuff?

Fireman Frank Show

That was a great show; a classic 50's kids show. Can't forget Skipper Sedley who became "Sir Sedley" for whatever reason. Also "Mayor Art"; "Bozo The Clown"; "Captain Satellite" and on a national level, "Howdy Doody" and "The Micky Mouse Club" These were all basically afternoon and Saturday shows. The essential 50's morning children's show was of course, "Captain Kangaroo" with the classic serial Cartoon "Tom Terrific"..

Fond Rekollektions

I remember the Karl the Karrot episode where he had a fight with Rocky Mashed Potato. I loved Scat the Cat,with his band-aid on one of his cheeks. Rhode Island Red the giant rooster puppet, with a wing that would pop up like it was pointing while he said, "He went thataway!" then break into a silly laugh while his head went up & down. Wish someone can find the name of the original Fireman Frank...just for memories and recognition for him.

Py-O-My was the sponsor

I remember having to put up with Frank while babysitting my little sister after school before the folks got home (I was a teenager then) and the sponsor for a while was Py-O-My (kind of like Betty Crocker) dessert and pudding mix. Rumor was that the original Fireman Frank partook too much of Py-O-My and dropped dead of blocked arteries.

I remember a couple of guys in our neighborhood and I set up a FF-like puppet show one summer to earn money to buy Superman and other comics by charging a nickel to the little kids who wanted to watch. One guy's older sister made a "Scat the Cat"-type sock puppet while I had fun cutting and pasting pieces of cardboard together to make a Dynamo Dudley. I remember one kid's mom getting upset because he has swiped the only two carrots in the house to make Karl (In those days two carrots went into the stew). We made enough to make our local grocer happy to sell those horrible old comic books.

Banana Man

I never saw Karl the Karrot (we had The Old Rebel and Cowboy Fred and Captain Five at various times), but The Banana Man was my absolute, all-time favorite too. If you never saw his act, it's hard to imagine what it was like.

Here is a website, somewhat disorganized, with a lot of info:
http://facweb.furman.edu/~rbryson/BananaMan/index.html

The "Sam Levine" and "History" links are the best, but it's all interesting (to absolute fans anyway).

Love Karl the Karrot

Kids' shows in the '50s were great. I loved Fireman Frank and Karl the Karrot. My absolute favorite though was the Banana Man on Captain Kangaroo!

Karlotta Karrot

During those years of childhood in San Francisco there were truly great kids' shows. Fireman Frank was without question the best. I remember Karl's girlfriend Karlotta, who spoke in the same type of oogle pattern that Karl used. By the way does anybody remember during Christmas time when Happy Holly of the Whitehouse department store called Santa?

Original Fireman Frank

I remember watching the jolly chubby Fireman Frank. One day he was gone. I wondered what happen to him. Does anyone know his name?

Rhode Island Red

I, too, loved Fireman Frank. Wasn't Rhode Island Red one of his characters, too? The limp Karl the Karrot, wobbling around by Friday afternoon, was something we all looked forward to. Thanks for bringing back these wonderful memories. Too bad there aren't any witty kids' shows today.

And I think the Peanut Gallery was Howdy Doody (with Buffalo Bob Smith) and not part of Fireman Frank.

Fireman Frank again

Watched it everyday it with on. The thing I remember most was, Fireman Frank said "we don't like Lima beans," and I still don't like them.

Fireman Frank

I was on Fireman Frank with the greatest young comedienne of her time, Westlake Stephie, age 7. It was a fun show.

Holy Karrot juice!

Never thought I'd find a person who had seen that show. I remember the carrot losing his "vigor" over the week and being pretty limp on Friday to be revitalized on Monday. I have the button also. (After 50-some years)

Yahoo! At Last...he's alive!!!

I have vivid memories of Karl the Karrot...one of my all time favorite TV characters. I have been asking people "Do you ever remember watching a show in the 50's with Karl the Karrot who just bobbled his head around and went...blblblblblblblbl blblblblb blblbl?" No one remembered and I was beginning to think I'd made it up! Thank you for bringing Karl (and that cool button) back to me...I shall forward this page to the zillion people who thought I was just having another acid flash!!

Local Kids Shows

The Lincoln, Nebraska area had Sheriff Bill and Silent Orv (who was silent because they'd have to pay him more if he spoke). Later on, I learned television directing on the last live "Romper Room" in the country - never knew what might happen with a roomful of pre-schoolers on live TV.

Fireman Frank Fan

To add to the Fireman Frank archive: Dynamo Dudley's mother (or mother-in-law) was a can of nails that would be grabbed and rattled whenever it seemed necessary.

Local live kid shows

must have been a national staple. In Texas, we had Mr. Peppermint in Fort Worth, Uncle Jay and his sidekick Packer Jack, an old prospector, in Austin and Cap'n Jack (I think) in San Antonio. Even tiny KCEN in Temple had their own guy, who could draw a picture from a kid's scrawl. We went for my brother's birthday, ca. 1959/1960.

Fireman Frank

Hey, my cousin, best friend and I were on that show. We just loved it. When he interviewed the peanut galery (that was on Firman Frank I think) He asked my cousin, who had swiped her mom's hat to wear there, to show her profile so that the audience could see her hat. She of course did not know what that meant, so she took it off and gave it to him. It was funny to me because when she got home she got into trouble for taking the hat. I of course was happy she had gotten scolded as she was a very pretty girl and was always the center of attention.

I was just a messy little tomboy that just went along for the ride. Thanks for the memories.

Fireman Frank Fan

This is cool. I loved afternoons and Saturdays with Fireman Frank on the tube. It killed me how Fireman Frank broke himself up waving around a limp Karl the Karrot - where Karl would stare out blankly, bobbling up and down as Frank tried to contain his hysterics below while snorting in a vain attempt to conceal his own amusement.

 
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