Rootie Kazootie

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The Rootie Kazootie Club
RootieKazootie.png
Todd Russell, Rootie Kazootie, Gala Poochie Pup
FormatLive action with puppets
StarringTodd Russell
Country of origin United States
Production
Running time

15 minutes (weekday) /

30 minutes (Saturday)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC / ABC
Picture formatBlack & White, Color
Original run1950 – 1954
 
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Rootie Kazootie was the principal character on the 1950s children's television show The Rootie Kazootie Club. The show was the creation of Steve Carlin and featured human actors along with hand puppets.

The Rootie Kazootie Club
RootieKazootie.png
Todd Russell, Rootie Kazootie, Gala Poochie Pup
FormatLive action with puppets
StarringTodd Russell
Country of origin United States
Production
Running time

15 minutes (weekday) /

30 minutes (Saturday)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC / ABC
Picture formatBlack & White, Color
Original run1950 – 1954

Characters[edit]

Rootie Kazootie was a boy “keen on sports” who played his “magic kazootie” and wore his signature baseball cap with the oversized bill turned up. Puppeteer Paul Ashley controlled his movements, along with those of the “great Mexican catador” El Squeako Mouse, while Naomi Lewis supplied their voices. Lewis also provided the voice of Rootie’s girl friend Polka Dottie. Frank Milano provided both the actions and voices for their spotted canine companion Gala Poochie Pup and for arch-villain Poison Zoomack,[1] who constantly tried to steal Polka Dottie’s polka dots and the magic kazootie.

Life-sized human characters included host and “chief rooter” Todd ("Big Todd") Russell, and the non-speaking policeman Mr. Deetle Dootle, played by John Schoeopperle in 1950 and by John Vee thereafter.

The show was performed live in front of a studio audience of schoolchildren, who were also active participants. They joined in singing the theme song proclaiming "Who is the boy, who is full of zip and joy? He's Rootie Kazootie!" at the beginning of each show. A regular feature was the "Quiz-a-Rootie" in which audience members received prizes for answering simple questions.

History[edit]

The show first aired locally as “The Rootie Tootie Club” on New York’s NBC affiliate WNBT on October 14, 1950. Since the title character regularly used a magical kazoo, which he called his "Magic Kazootie," the kids began calling him "Rootie Kazootie." Following the kids' lead, the names of the show and the character were changed with the December 26 show.[2] There is no evidence to support the story that the name was changed to avoid potential litigation from the company that manufactured Tootsie Roll. The network began broadcasting it nationally on July 2, 1951.

The dog was originally named “Little Nipper” and resembled the mascot of the show's sponsor, RCA Victor, but was rechristened when that company dropped its sponsorship. Other sponsors included Coca-Cola and Williamson Candy Company, makers of Powerhouse candy bars.

The show aired on NBC until November 1952, and was seen on ABC beginning in December. The last telecast was May 7, 1954.

In January 1995, Ira Gallen resurrected the puppet characters for "The New Rootie Kazootie TV Show", a series broadcast on Manhattan's Time-Warner cable outlet.

Production[edit]

An army of some 50 people was said to be required to create each 15- or 30-minute show. Credits in addition to those mentioned above include:

Influence in Popular Culture[edit]

At the height of the show's popularity its audience was estimated at between 2 and 3 million, and in 1953 fan letters were pouring in at a reported average rate of 32,000 each week. Words such as "yesirootie" and "gosharootie" from the "Rootie Kazootie" lexicon were adopted by schoolchildren.

The show spawned several children's books as well as a Dell comic book series. Numerous items of related merchandise, including toys and games, were produced, many of which are available as collectibles today. Author Lawrence Naumoff appropriated the name "Rootie Kazootie" for the title of a 1990 novel, though it has no explicit connection to the character.

FIRST INTERACTIVE SHOWS

The children's TV show "Rootie Kazootie", airing first on NBC from 1950 until 1952, then on ABC until May, 1954, was the first of two early children's TV shows that introduced an interactive technique which made use of a "magic screen" which the shows' producers sent to children who joined the shows' "special club" by writing in and requesting the "magic screen". [3] The "magic screen" (a thick piece of green vinyl) would cling to the TV screen via static electricity. Kids could follow along with drawing, writing, story object creation, etc. on "their side" the magic screen. Examples were the drawing of bridge over a river, the inclusion of some necessary object or tool to be used in the story, or new characters. The objects, created by the children, under direction of the Shows' host, were incorporated into the broadcast images to compete the background set and telling of a story. This interactive screen technique was also used in another early children's TV show, Winky Dink and You that aired on CBS from 1953 to 1957, on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Eastern / 9:30 Central,hosted by Jack Barry and featuring the exploits of a cartoon character named Winky Dink (voiced by Mae Questel) and his dog Woofer. On the Winky Dink show, actual characters were sometimes drawn by the children and broadcast characters, such as the host, would interact with them. Another use of the magic screen involved "Secret Messages" that were broadcast by showing the horizontal lines of large letters, which the children would copy, then read the completed message when only the vertical lines of letters were subsequently broadcast behind the copied screen of horizontal lines. Use of the screen was stopped by CBS owing to concerns about close contact of the children to the radiation of the TV tube, especially with the advent of color TV. Concerns were also raised regarding children without the "magic screen" drawing directly on the TV tube face.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For reasons apparently lost to history he was sometimes known as Poison Zanzaboo, e.g. in the Dell comics and Little Golden Books. For example, see The Grand Comics Database Project
  2. ^ Billboard, December 26, 1950
  3. ^ Woolery, G.W., Children's Television, the First Thirty-five Years, 1946-1981 pt. 2 Live, film, and tape series., 1983 Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2

References[edit]

External links[edit]