Curiosity Shop

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Curiosity Shop
Format Children's television series
Created by Chuck Jones
Directed by Alan Zaslove
Starring John Levin, Kerry McLane, Pamelyn Ferdin, Jerelyn Fields, Barbara Minkus
Composer(s) Jimmie Haskell
Dick Elliot
Henry Mancini ("The Groon")
Country of origin  United States
Production
Running time 60 minutes per episode
Broadcast
Original channel ABC (1971)

Curiosity Shop is an American children's educational television program produced by ABC-TV in 1971, capitalizing on the success of Sesame Street.

Sponsored by the Kellogg's cereal company, Curiosity Shop was broadcast Saturday mornings from September 11, 1971, to January 6, 1973. The program featured three inquisitive children (two boys and a girl) who each week visited a shop populated with various puppets and gadgets, discovering interesting things about science, nature and history. Each hour-long show covered a specific theme: clothing, music, dance, weather, the five senses, space, time, rules, flight, dolls,[1] etc.

Talent[edit]

The executive producer was legendary animator Chuck Jones, who contributed two new animated characters to the show:

  • Professor S. I. Trivia, a bespectacled "bookworm," lived in a dictionary and was always on hand to supply a definition to a word the children didn't know.
  • Monsieur Cou Cou was a French-accented bird, whose catchphrase was, "That's right!" He always tried to catch Prof. Trivia with a nosedive before the worm invariably dodged the bird just in time, repeatedly causing him to ram into the dictionary and get his beak stuck in it.

Noted screenwriter Irving Phillips provided some scripts and animation art for the show,[2] including an animation of his long-running syndicated comic strip "The Strange World of Mr. Mum." Animations of Mell Lazarus's comic strip Miss Peach, Johnny Hart's comic strip The Wizard Of Id, Virgil Partch's cartoon Big George! and Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace were also presented on the show. Abraham "Abe" Levitow, late of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839, animated most of these short segments. Ray Bradbury is also credited as a writer for the show.[3]

Henry Mancini composed the theme music of the program and its animated title sequence.[4] Dean Elliott wrote other music for the show.[5]

Actors[edit]

John Levin and Kerry McLane played Gerard and Ralph, the two boys. Alternating in the girl's role were Pamelyn Ferdin as Pam and Jerelyn Fields as Cindy.

Barbara Minkus made a regular appearance as Gittle, a witch who magically appeared whenever someone said a phrase that included "which."[6]

Darwin, a chimpanzee, made his home in a treehouse on the show.

A seal named Eunice lived in a waterbed — literally a water tank shaped like a bed.

Puppet characters[edit]

Created by Bob Baker[7] (co-founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles), the show's puppets included:

  • Flip, an orange hippopotamus with a jive-talking voice and oversized sneakers.
  • Baron Balthazar, a bearded, derby-hatted little man who would spin tales, in animated form, about his adventures and inventions back in his homeland, "Downtown Bosnia." The cartoons were originally a series called "Professor Balthazar" that was produced in Croatia when it was part of Yugoslavia (as Bosnia also was at the time).
  • The Oogle, a marsupial-like silent creature with a beak-like mouth, a hayseed-style hat, and a demeanor of clownish confusion and disillusion.
  • Onomatopoeia, a multi-legged furry beast that spoke in sound effects, partially inspired by an alien in a "Professor Balthazar" episode.
  • Woodrow the groundhog, who often yelled "Qui-e-e-e-e-e-t!" when things got out of hand and woke him from his slumber.
  • Eek A. Mouse, who often emerged from the wall to scream for quiet as well.
  • Nostalgia, a chronically forgetful but sweet-tempered elephant.
  • Hermione Giraffe.
  • Aarthur the Aardvark.
  • Ole Factory the Bloodhound.
  • Halcyon the Hyena.
  • Miss Fowler, a flower in a pot.

Inanimate characters[edit]

  • A talking computer with tape-reel eyes who satisfied the children's curiosity about any subject and presented educational movies, tapes, cartoons, vocabulary series, etc., on his screen-mouth.
  • Hudson, a gravelly-voiced rock who told stories of prehistory.
  • Granny TV, a rocking antique television set who presented classic film comedies by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Will Rogers, or the like.
  • Mr. Jones, a tape recorder that played the prerecorded voice of Chuck Jones, the only means of communication between the children and the legendary animator. Pamelyn Ferdin often concluded an episode by saying, "Goodbye, Mr. Jones — wherever you are."

Voice-overs[edit]

Mel Blanc, June Foray, Bob Holt, Don Messick and Les Tremayne provided some of the character voices.[8]

Guests[edit]

Guests on the program included:

Shirley Jones appeared on the show's pilot, "The Curiosity Shop Special,"[10] which featured all four children. It was on this pilot that the first song from Multiplication Rock, "Three Is a Magic Number," would make its debut.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Curiosity Shop: Princess Of Pure Delight
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2000/nov/01/local/me-45133
  3. ^ Curiosity Shop at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Curiosity Shop Introduction
  5. ^ Curiosity Shop at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Barbara Minkus as seen on TV's " Curiosity Shop"
  7. ^ Skooldays: Curiosity Shop
  8. ^ Curiosity Shop at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Curiosity Shop at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ Curiosity Shop Special TV commercial

External links[edit]