J. P. Patches
J.P.Patches (right) and Gertrude in 2008
|Created by||Chris Wedes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original run||1958 – 1981|
J.P. Patches (full name: Julius Pierpont Patches) was a clown portrayed by Seattle entertainer Chris Wedes (April 3, 1928 – July 22, 2012). The J.P. Patches Show was one of the longer-running locally-produced children's television programs in the United States, having appeared on Seattle TV station KIRO channel 7 from 1958 to 1981. The show was live, unrehearsed improv with rarely more than two live actors on screen (Wedes and Bob Newman) but with frequent contributions from the sound effects man and off-camera crew.
J.P. Patches hosted his show twice a day every weekday for 13 years (plus Saturdays), then for the next 8 years did the morning show only, and finally for the last 2 years appeared on Saturday mornings only—for a total of over 10,000 hours of on-air time. The show premiered on April 5, 1958, as the second program ever broadcast by KIRO-TV, the first being a telecast of the explosion of Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows, British Columbia, Canada. The show was immensely popular in the Puget Sound area and southwestern British Columbia, with children as well as their parents, who enjoyed J.P.'s frequent use of double entendre and sly subversiveness. Two generations of viewers grew up as "Patches Pals", sharing the joyful zany antics of J.P. with their kids. At the peak of its run, the Emmy-winning program had a viewership of over 100,000 in its local markets.
After the TV show stopped airing, Wedes continued to portray J.P. at many public and private events over the years despite suffering in later years from incurable (but in remission) blood cancer.  In 2011, citing poor health, Wedes announced that he expected his final public appearance to be September 17, 2011. On July 22, 2012, Chris Wedes died after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He was 84.
J.P. was the "Mayor of the City Dump", where he lived in a shack and welcomed frequent guests: Seattle boy scout and girl scout troops, various local and national celebrities, and his cast of supporting characters: Sturdley the Bookworm, Esmerelda (portrayed by a Raggedy Ann doll), Ketchikan the Animal Man (a sort of Jack Hanna character), Boris S. Wort (the "second meanest man in the world"), LeRoy Frump (a character obviously based on Art Carney's Ed Norton), Tikey Turkey (a rubber chicken), Grandpa Tick Tock (a grandfather clock with an elderly face where the pendulum would be), The Swami of Pastrami, Ggoorrsstt the Friendly Frpl (a one-eyed brown shag carpet), Miss Smith (a motorcycle riding delivery woman who told mostly awful jokes), Superclown (a JP like superhero), J.P.'s evil counterpart P. J. Scratches (per official site I.M. Rags), and J.P.'s girlfriend, Gertrude. Virtually the entire supporting cast, male and female, human or non-human, was played by the versatile Bob Newman.
The city dump where J.P. lived is thought to be the Montlake Landfill, which was a real city dump from 1926 to 1966, but since 1972 has been athletic fields, a parking lot, and the Union Bay Natural Area of the University of Washington in the University District.
J.P. announced the birthdays of selected Patches Pals by "viewing" them on his "ICU2TV" set (a cardboard prop that created the appearance that J.P. was looking at you from inside your television). He predicted where a gift might be hidden in the child's house with amazing accuracy (perhaps with the never-mentioned assistance of a postcard from a parent). The sound effect used was the same, distinctive ringtone of Cramden's "presidential hotline" telephone in Our Man Flint.
Famous guests on TV show
Broadcaster Daryl Laub created the J.P. Patches character in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but when he left WTCN (now KARE) in 1955 for KSTP-TV channel 5, Chris Wedes (pronounced WEE-dus) took over the character from that point on. Wedes appeared on several WTCN programs. Besides J.P., his most notable character was Joe the Cook on WTCN's Lunch with Casey. Wedes brought J.P. with him when he moved to Seattle in 1958 to become KIRO News' first floor director. In addition to the long-running TV show, J.P. Patches made frequent fundraising appearances for local charities. He was a common sight at Children's Hospital, visiting sick kids and promoting the work of the hospital.
On August 17, 2008 a bronze statue of J.P. and Gertrude was unveiled on North 34th Street, about 250 feet east of the intersection with Fremont Avenue North, in the Fremont section of Seattle. The unveiling date was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the J.P. Patches show. The statue is called Late for the Interurban by sculptor Kevin Pettelle  and is approximately 250 feet east of Waiting for the Interurban. The unveiling was attended by hundreds of Patches' Pals, including Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, Congressman Jim McDermott, King County Executive Ron Sims, and several members of the county and city councils; both Chris Wedes (J. P. Patches) and Bob Newman (Gertrude) were present. The event was emceed by Pat Cashman, and the keynote address was given by Wedes' 16-year-old granddaughter, Christina Frost.
Merchandise and Videos
The J.P. Patches action figure is distributed by Seattle novelty dealer Archie McPhee.
The book J.P. Patches, Northwest Icon, by Bryan Johnston and Julius Pierpont Patches (Chris Wedes), (ISBN 0897167996) was released in 2002 by Peanut Butter Publishing.
In addition to the book and action figure, DVDs and tee shirts are available at the Channel 9 store.
- Towey, Joe, director; in association with KIRO Television (1993). J.P. Patches. [Vol. 4, J.P's magic house] (VHS). Seattle: City Dump Productions. Performers: Chris Wedes, Bob Newman. B&W with color sequences, remaster of rescued original recordings c. 1960s - early 1970s.
- Wedes, Chris (performer, author); Newman, Bob (performer, author); "a cast of thousands"; Towey, Joe (director in association with KIRO Television, author); Jones, Rich (director in association with KIRO Television, author) (1992). The J.P. Patches Show. [Vol. 1, Gertrude reveals Superklown] (Video Tape (VHS)). Seattle: City Dump Productions. Remaster of rescued original recordings c. 1970s.
- JP was listed as one of Krusty the Clown's birthday buddies in the animated television show The Simpsons (episode "Radio Bart") along with Bart. This was similar to JP's I.C.U.2-TV segment. Matt Groening, the creator, drew a lot of inspiration from his former home in the Pacific Northwest such as naming the streets. JP and fellow Pacific NW clown Rusty Nails are considered the inspiration for Krusty.
Notes and references
- HistoryLink Essay: Patches, Julius Pierpont
- Longer running children's shows include The Bozo Show on WGN (1960-2000) and The Magic Window (1951-1994) on WOI.
- (1) "OlyBlog, Evergroove Trivia pt. 37". OlyBlog.net. 2005-11-13. Retrieved 2006-04-21.[dead link]
(2) Wedes & Johnston; Hobson (ed.)
- such as at the PNE in Vancouver in August 2007 and Roslyn Coal Miner Days in 2006
- "An ill J.P. Patches will appear at waterfront Halloween party". The Seattle Times. October 24, 2007.
- J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647 [sic]). ""J.P.'s Appeareances" [sic]". JPPatches. Retrieved 2006-04-21. and licenses J.P. Patches merchandise. JPPatches (2005). "J.P. Patches". Home > Pacific Northwest Shop > J.P. Patches. Channel 9 Corporation. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647 [sic]). "Patches Pal News". 2006 appearances, inclusive. JPPatches. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- "J.P. Patches' last public appearance is Saturday". The Seattle Times. September 15, 2011.
- Broom, Jack (22 July 2012). "Obituary: "J.P. Patches," Seattle's beloved TV clown". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- (1) Phelps, pp. 207–208.
(2) Center for Urban Horticulture
- Latest statue news
- Statue fundraising news
- Kevin Pettelle | | Soul In Bronze Studio, Sultan Washington
- McNerthney, Casey (August 18, 2008). "J.P. Patches, Gertrude honored with new statue". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- Beck, Dave (2001-01-04). "J.P. Patches and Gertrude". Weekday. KUOW-FM. Retrieved 2006-06-27.
Link to RealAudio archive of interview on local morning program on KUOW-FM 94.6, Seattle.
Host talks with local Seattle stars from the J.P. Patches Show, 54m 56s.
RealAudio link: "http://126.96.36.199/ramgen/archive/weekday/wkdy010104-b.rm?start='00:01:59.000'&end='00:56:05.048'"
- "HISTORY @ UBNA". Union Bay Natural Area. Departments, University of Washington. n.d., 1999 per "Montlake Landfill Information SumMarchy, January 1999" on page. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- "Character name search". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-04-21.[dead link]
- J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647 [sic]). ""J.P.'s Appeareances" [sic]". JPPatches. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647 [sic]). "Patches Pal News". JPPatches. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
2006 appearances, inclusive.
- Johnston, Bryan; Wedes, Chris (2002). Hobson, Tom, ed. J.P. Patches, Northwest icon. Seattle: Peanut Butter Publishers. ISBN 0-89716-799-6.
Chris Wedes holds the copyright, Bryan Johnston is the author.
- JPPatches (2005). "J.P. Patches". Home > Pacific Northwest Shop > J.P. Patches. Channel 9 Corporation. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Paynter, Susan (2006-02-17). "This clown truly deserves a statue". Seattle Post-intelligencer. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Phelps, Myra L. (1978). Public works in Seattle. Seattle: Seattle Engineering Department. ISBN 0-9601928-1-6.
- Stein, Alan J. (2003-03-02). "Patches, Julius Pierpont". HistoryLink.org Essay 5344. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Stein referenced Jack Broom, "The J.P. Generation", Pacific Magazine, The Seattle Times, 4 April 1993, pp. 6-11,14-17;
- Bill Cartmel, "Hi Ya, Patches Pals", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 April 1971, pp. 6-7;
- Erik Lacitis, "Patches Understands – and Survives", The Seattle Times, 23 February 1978, p. A15;
- [no title], The East Side Journal, 31 May 1962, p. 3; Ibid. 14 May 1969, p. 19.
- Beck, Dave (2001-01-04). "J.P. Patches and Gertrude". Weekday. KUOW-FM. Retrieved 2006-06-27.
- "J.P. Patches". home page. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Chris Wedes at Find a Grave
- J. P. Patches at the Internet Movie Database
- jppatches.com, official web site
- Guide to the Chris Wedes Collection on J.P. Patches at the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
- PersonRatings Profile
- HistoryLink history of J.P. Patches
- Ketchikan the Animal Man (Bob Newman) fan site
- Interview with J.P. Patches on local Seattle podcast, The Dave and Steve Show
- J.P. Patches Tribute Documentary produced by Full Focus