Christmas Programming

Kevin S. Butler shares his memories of Sandy's Christmas programs:

I don't know if you are aware of it, but this year marks
the 40th anniversary of the airing of Sandy Becker's puppet version of
Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol!" The kids' holiday TV special aired on WNEW
TV Ch. 5 in NYC on Saturday night, December 23, l96l. I'll always remember
Sandy's puppets doing their own version of Dickens' telling of the evils of
misers like "Ebernezer Scrooge" and his overindulgence in working on Christmas
for the sake of "The Almighty Buck". But before the story is over, "Scrooge"(played
here with a certain amount of stingy grumpiness by Geeba Geeba) learns about the
true meaning of caring about the needs of your fellow man and not "The Almighty
Buck", at the hands of and the supernatural disciplines of "The Ghost of Scrooge's
ex-partner:Jacob Marley" and "The Three Ghosts of Christmas" (played by Wow Wee
The Indian Chief, Jacquet La Rat and Edie Mouse). Sandy made them warm, caring and
funny, without deviating from the true intents of Mr.Dickens' moral. It's too bad that
the damn idoiots at Metromedia TV Inc. didn't save the tape of the show. They
erased it. Hence the show's message is lost to the stupid heads of Metromedia TV.
Sadly the show and its message are also lost to today's kids and adults as well.

Sandy Becker co-hosted "The First Annual Wonderama Christmas Party!" with
"Wonderama"'s second host/performer Herb Sheldon and with Dumont TV's second actor
to play "Capt.Video": Al Hodge."The Wonderama Christmas Party" aired for nine hours
from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, December 25, l956. According to a synopsis
that I got from a back issue of the NYC/NJ/Ct. edition of "TV Guide":

"From now until 6 P.M. tonight, Little Lulu, Betty Boop, Daffy Duck,
Superman and Porky Pig will scramble across the TV screens in
an all day Christmas cartoon session. This is in the nature of a Christmas
Party, featuring the aformentioned cartoon characters. Plus Sandy Becker,
Herb Sheldon, Al "Capt. Video" Hodge and a special Christmas tree.
The tree will be decked with toys and the toys will be awarded to children,
telephoned at random, who are watching the show. Sandy Becker, incidently,
promises to bring to the festivites: Marvin Mouse, Stanley Q. and Jingle Dingle."

There were two more "Wonderama Christmas Parties" that aired on Ch. 5 in NYC. Herb
Sheldon co-hosted the second one with "Uncle Fred" Scott on Wednesday, December 25,
l957. The third and last one aired on WNEW TV Ch. 5 in NYC on Friday, December 25,
l959, Sonny Fox hosted that last "Wonderama Christmas Party".


A personal note: I was born too late to see any of the specials and am especially grateful to Kevin
Butler and Elizabeth Hand for their memories! -- Christopher Gross