Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Children's Hour On WNBC

The early days of television could be amazing. Unless shows were on film, they were live: absolutely, you were watching what was going on at that instant somewhere in a studio. Kids’ shows were everywhere. Puppets and marionettes were cheap and took up little studio space, so you could put up a permanent set in any odd corner.

Then there was the live children’s show, the Horn and Hardart’s “Children’s Hour,” a New York City program every Sunday morning from 10:30 to 11:30.

They sang, they danced, some girl came out and played “The Hot Canary” on her violin. Two girls came out with sashes that read “Brooklyn” and “Bronx,” then traded insults while reading off cue cards next to the camera. Predictable, but good; the kids were no talentless-mall award winners.

At 11:00 came the heart-rendering “Less work for mother; let’s lend her a hand. Less work for mother so she’ll understand. She’s your greatest treasure; Let’s make her life a pleasure. Less work for mother dear.” It was H&H’s Automat theme and not aimed at the kids, but their parents who might watch along with the tykes.

Some of kids on there were Frankie Avalon, Rosemary Clooney, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Kitty Kallen, Arnold Stang, Bea Wain, Buddy DeFranco and radio’s original Henry Aldrich, Ezra Stone. They had to be good, as things went wrong often and you had to be on your toes or you weren’t back again.