Hatten in 2013
November 14, 1927 |
Jamestown, North Dakota, United States
Tom Hatten (born November 14, 1927 in Jamestown, North Dakota) is a veteran radio, film and television personality, best known as the long-time host of The Popeye Show (originally "The Pier Point 5 Club") and Family Film Festival on KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles in the 1960s through the '80s. He has also appeared in dozens of musicals, movies and television shows.
The Popeye Show
In 1952, he started working as a broadcaster at KTLA in Hollywood, later landing the part of the friendly sailor in the station's afternoon children's show, the "The Pier Point 5 Club". He followed "Skipper Frank" Herman who appeared earlier in the afternoon with "Cartoon Carousel".
Dressed in Navy whites, Hatten presented the animated works of Max and Dave Fleischer, easy to obtain from a Paramount affiliate, starring as the spinach eating Popeye. A skilled artist and cartoonist, Hatten's included had how to segments that taught how to draw the cartoon characters. He also had guests on each program, who were given a large upright easel and sketch pad. Hatten would draw what he called a "Squiggle". The guests would create a drawing incorporating the squiggle without crossing any of the squiggle's lines. Hatten hosted two later versions of the show and told anecdotes about the Fleischers, the cartoons, or their studios.
"The Pier Point 5 Club" was given a more elaborate studio set and was renamed "The Popeye Show". Hatten was dressed as a harbor master in a structure resembling a marina. The squiggle contest was retained and the show expanded to an hour. King Features created a new series of Popeye cartoons to go with the show. Jack Mercer, who had replaced William Costello (aka "Red Pepper" Sam) as the voice of Fleischer's Popeye, visit the show to recognize Hatten as the biggest promoter of the Max and Dave Fleischer Studio.
Hatten's show was aired on Saturday and Sunday until 1985. The guests and games were gone. but it still featured Tom's cartoons. Hatten then host KTLA's "Family Film Festival", where his cinema expertise was again displayed.
Family Film Festival
The "Family Film Festival" was a weekend afternoon feature on KTLA 5 between 1978 and 1992, with Hatten screening a classic movie, often from the 40's, 50's or 60's. During breaks in the show, he would offer anecdotes about the film's history or its actors, or even conduct brief interviews with a cast or crew member (a practice that originally predated the cable networks American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies; see those articles for details). Many "Gen X"-aged men and women, born throughout the 1970s and raised in Los Angeles, were introduced to the films of Jerry Lewis, The Little Rascals, and Pippi Longstocking as well as animated films as "Gay Purr-ee" and "Star Blazers", through Hatten's Family Film Festival. The Little River Band's song Reminiscing was used as bumper music.
Hatten's acting credits include portraying a corrupt military officer in the movie Spies Like Us, with Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase. He appeared as Captain Murdock in several episodes of the television show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and had a minor role as an officer in three episodes of Hogan's Heroes. Hatten provided the voice of the character Farmer Fitzgibbons in the animated movie The Secret of NIMH. Hatten appeared in a touring production of the musical, "Annie" as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
For nearly 20 years, Hatten worked as an award-winning entertainment reporter for KNX 1070 Newsradio in Los Angeles, filing regular reports on the movie industry, new films, and celebrity news. He left the station in 2007.