David Bruce: The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Children

Children

• In the early days of television, TV sets were dangerous — it took 42,000 volts of electricity to operate them. When Wayne Halverson, a childhood friend of author Gary Paulsen, turned 12, he licked the end of his finger then brought it close to the ventilation panel of his family’s TV. An arc of electricity grabbed him, threw him against a wall, and knocked him unconscious for several minutes. Later, Wayne discovered that the incident had given him a superpower similar to those of comic-book characters — Wayne was the first in his group of young male buddies to be able to talk to girls.

• Art Linkletter became famous in large part because of his interviews of children on his various TV programs. He would chat with the children a few minutes before they went on the air in order to find out who would be a good interview subject. Occasionally, a child would be so hyperactive that Mr. Linkletter would be forced to calm the child down by being “stern” with the child — for example, Mr. Linkletter would sometimes tell a hyperactive child to be on his best behavior because the President of the United States would be watching the show.

• R.L. Stine worked as a writer on the TV series Eureeka’s Castle, which featured many puppets, including a large puppet of a dragon that took as many as three people to operate. The people behind the TV series received a letter from the mother of a young girl who wanted to visit the set, and they invited the mother and the young girl to visit. Unfortunately, when the young girl arrived, she looked around the set and then started crying — she was disappointed because she had thought that the characters of Eureeka’s Castle were real.

• As young children with cerebral palsy, which affected their muscle control, comedian Geri Jewell and her best friend, Christine Kellogg, enjoyed watching the children’s TV show Engineer Bill. Among other educational games, Engineer Bill taught children to drink all their milk by use of a game called “Red Light, Green Light.” When he said “Green Light,” the children were supposed to drink their milk, but when he said “Red Light,” the children were supposed to stop. Because of their cerebral palsy, Geri and Christine spilled more milk than they drank.

• Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, and her husband, Hugh Franklin, a professional actor who played Dr. Charles Tyler on the TV soap opera All My Children, decided to move back to New York City after years of living in the country. They explained to their three children that cities were much different from the country, and that they could take only one of their seven cats and only one of their three dogs with them. Their youngest child opened his eyes wide and asked, “And only one child?”

• When she was a little girl, comedian Carol Burnett pretended that she had an identical twin sister named Karen, and she tried to convince the neighbors that Karen really existed. Therefore, Carol would go home to her apartment, change clothes quickly, leave using the fire escape, then reappear in the front door of the apartment house as Karen. Eventually, Carol grew exhausted trying to be two people, so Karen left on an extended vacation from which she never returned.

• Tex Avery created the personality of Bugs Bunny and directed many cartoons starring the character, as well as some Kool-Aid TV commercials featuring Bugs. When some little kids found out that he had some cels and drawings of Bugs Bunny in his car, he gave them to the kids. Soon after, a little girl asked him for more. He replied, “I gave you a whole batch of them!” She said, “But my brother takes them to school and sells them for fifty cents apiece!”

• TV’s Mister Rogers once attended a children’s program at an outreach facility. Because he did not want his celebrity to detract from the attention that ought to be given to the children, he and his wife sneaked into the auditorium. However, the children knew that he would be attending, and they wanted to see where he was sitting, so during the program, one of the children yelled, “Where you at, Mister Rogers? Where you at?”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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