Pinwheel (TV series)

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For the television channel, see Nickelodeon.
Created by Vivian Horner
Sandy Kavanaugh[1]
Written by Lou Berger
Caroline Cox
Michael Holden
Michael Karp
Patricia Parmalee
Robert Perlman
Louis Phillips
Ellen Schecter
Directed by Michael Bernhaut
James Colistro
Philip Squyres
Starring George James
Arline Miyazaki
Caroline Cox
Lindanell Rivera
Dale Engel
Betty Rozek
Country of origin USA
No. of episodes 260
Running time 60 minutes per episode (ran in 3-5 hour blocks)
Production company(s) Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company (Warner Bros. Television)
Distributor Nickelodeon
Original channel Pinwheel (1977-1979)
Nickelodeon (1979-1988)
Nick Jr. (1988-1991)
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Mono (1977-1981)
Stereo (1981-1990)
Original run December 1, 1977 (1977-12-01) – 1990 (1990)
Followed by Nick Jr. (block)

Pinwheel is a children's television show that aired on the Nickelodeon cable network from 1977 to 1990. The show originally aired on channel C-3 of Warner Cable's interactive system QUBE in Columbus, Ohio, and it began airing on Nickelodeon when it first launched in April 1979.


The show was similar to Sesame Street with live action skits mixed with animated shorts. Action scenes took place in and around a large Victorian-style house called Pinwheel House with a pinwheel on one of the peaks. Live actors would interact with puppets, discussing various concepts familiar to children's programming like sharing and being considerate, basic learning skills like colors, numbers and letters. All of the characters lived and worked in the various areas in and around the house.



Human characters included: Sal (played by Betty Rozek) and Smitty (played by Dale Engel), an elderly couple who ran a newspaper called The Daily Noodle. One of Smitty’s favorite pastimes was searching for the Admiral Bird who always seemed to elude him. Jake (played by George James), a man who collected small boxes, which emitted various sound effects. Franci was an artist and storyteller; she was on the show during its earliest years but her character was eventually phased out. Coco, a female Parisian mime (played by C.C. Loveheart from 1977-1981, then by Lindanell Rivera from 1982-1990). Kim (played by Arline Miyazaki) was not only the resident artist, but also Aurelia’s niece, which was confirmed on the Pinwheel Songbook VHS video during the “Hobo Bug Giggle Dance” number.


Plus and Minus were the very similar to Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. Plus always wore a shirt with a "+", was upbeat and optimistic, while Minus always wore a shirt with a "-", and was typically pessimistic and discouraged. A recurring sketch was Minus's attempt to board a spaceship, and Plus distracting him somehow and missing the take-off. Their favorite game was "Gotcha Last!".

Other characters included Aurelia (a gypsy who ran Pinwheel House and used a special phone [actually a desk phone base with a crystal ball on it and no receiver] to dial the "Opposite City Operator" and was also Kim’s aunt), Silas the Snail (had an elderly-looking face, and took an entire episode to go from one end of the garden to the other), Ebenezer T. Squint (green-faced equivalent to Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch; his sole goal in life was to be on the front page of The Daily Noodle), Luigi O'Brien (who ran a mobile produce stand where all of the fruits and vegetables talked), Molly McMole, an Irish mole who lived in a tree in the backyard, Herbert and Lulu the Hobo Bugs, and the Admiral Bird which always seems to outwit Smitty. In its earlier episodes, there was originally two puppets called Val & Al, two sport enthusiasts that used to encourage the residents to keep fit, along with the three alien puppets known as the Wonkles, Tika, Gorcle, and Woofle from the planet Zintar. They were phased out during the series. Two of the main puppeteers were Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher, who herself was a Sesame Street puppeteer for two years, from 1978 to 1980. The hand puppets were designed by Brad Williams.


Aurelia was shown as friendly, bubbly and firm! She always welcomed her guests and greeted them with a smile. She had a ginger bob, olive green eyes, fuchsia lips and often wore bohemian clothing.

Molly was shown as timid and very gentle with a strong Irish accent.


There were a total of 260 one-hour Pinwheel episodes recorded from 1977 to 1982. However, Pinwheel was typically broadcast in 3 to 5 hour long blocks with multiple one-hour episodes shown back-to-back. It remains the longest-running Nickelodeon show in episodes and hours on air, and was the longest-running in years until You Can't Do That on Television broke the record. It is now #6, behind All That, You Can't Do That on Television, Nick News, Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants.

List of animated shorts[edit]

One of the most memorable things about Pinwheel was that it featured a wide variety of both regularly animated and stop-motion animation short films or cartoons from many different countries, most of which were only about five minutes long.


  1. ^ Denisoff, R. Serge (1988). Inside MTV. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. pp. 9,10. ISBN 9780887381737. 

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