Adventure Time (1959 TV series)
Adventure Time was a local children's television show on WTAE-TV 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1959 to 1975. It was hosted by Paul Shannon, with guitarist Joe Negri and puppeteer Jim Martin. Martin later became a puppeteer for Sesame Street.
Paul Shannon introduced cartoon segments by lowering a "magic sword" and reciting the phrase, "Down goes the curtain, and back up again for . . ." whatever was the feature. Old Three Stooges shorts were shown, as well as the cartoons Kimba the White Lion, "Dodo- The Kid From Outer Space", Coco The Clown, Beanie and Cecil, Space Angel and Rocky and Bullwinkle. Often the Three Stooges episodes were introduced by Shannon spinning "The Stooge-O-Scope"...a mounted wheel with pictures of the six comic actors who played the Three Stooges attached to it. After Paul would spin the wheel, the camera would zoom into it, with the fade back out going into that day's episode of the Stooges.
The show also featured Paul Shannon's alter ego, Nosmo King, a mysteriously silent, bearded man in dark sunglasses, who stalked about the studio in a slouch hat and tan raincoat. Nosmo was also featured "driving his car" around Pittsburgh, or playing a one-man-band type instrument to the likes of The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There". The studio audience was composed of children's groups such as Boy and Cub Scout packs, Brownie, Girl Scout, and Camp Fire Girl troops. Paul regularly featured a "Picture Gallery" on his show. He would pretend to "play" a player piano and scroll photos of his young listeners that had been sent in to the station. Other times, songs such as The Toys' "A Lover's Concerto" would play during the showing of the viewer's photos. Occasionally, viewer contests were held, most notably, one in 1966 to meet the Three Stooges at the local Kennywood Park, and one in 1969 to name a new roller coaster at said park. One viewer chose, "The Thunderbolt". The attraction still remains active at the park today.
A high point of the show came each Christmas season, when Paul Shannon loaded children's letters to Santa Claus into a rocket, and launched it to the North Pole. Santa later opened the letters and read them on the air. Martin's main character in the series was Baby Jeffy. The puppet was lost at one point in production, and Negri claims Martin reacted "like Jeffy was kidnapped."
In his book, Moe Howard of the Three Stooges credited Paul Shannon with sparking renewed interest in the Stooges. Shannon appeared in one of the Stooges' full-length features, The Outlaws Is Coming, as Wild Bill Hickok.
Shannon's alter-ego Nosmo King reportedly got his name from a "No Smoking" sign. Later on in the series' history, other characters were added, such as Happy Howard (The Friendly Spider).
Joe Negri took over the show after Shannon retired in 1975. Negri, also a long-time employee and music director for ABC affiliate WTAE, did other Pittsburgh-based children's shows, having played, Mr. Music on "Rickie and Copper", and hosting "Popeye with Joe and Sandy", "High School Talent Scene" and most famously, playing Handyman Negri on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.