Family Classics

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Family Classics
The set of Family Classics and host Frazier Thomas.
GenreClassic Films
Created byFred Silverman
Frazier Thomas
Presented byFrazier Thomas
Roy Leonard
Dean Richards
Steve Sanders
Theme music composerDennis Berry
Opening theme"Moviescope"
Ending theme"Moviescope"
Country of originUS
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons40
No. of episodes1001[1]
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 14, 1962 (1962-09-14)[2] –
December 25, 2000 (2000-12-25)[2]
ReleaseDecember 8, 2017 (2017-12-08) –
January 5, 2020 (2020-01-05)

Family Classics is a Chicago television series which began in 1962 when Frazier Thomas was added to another program at WGN-TV. Thomas not only hosted classic films, but also selected the titles and personally edited them to remove those scenes which he thought were not fit for family viewing.[3] After Thomas' death in 1985, Roy Leonard took over the program.[4] The series continued sporadically until its initial cancellation in 2000.[4][5]

On November 10, 2017, WGN announced that Family Classics would be returning after a 17-year hiatus with a presentation of the 1951 version of Scrooge to air on Friday, December 8, 2017, and announced that its longtime entertainment reporter, Dean Richards, would be the new host.[6] Since then, it would continue to air each holiday season.


In 1962, Fred Silverman, then a WGN-TV executive, conceived the idea of the show by scheduling classic family films at a prime time Friday night position rather than a late show slot where children wouldn't see them. The show was a huge ratings success and inspired the networks to schedule recently released films in prime time. When the networks began showing first-run films in prime time, the show was rescheduled to Sunday afternoons.[3][7]

For the series' December 2019 airing of the 1942 film Holiday Inn, and New Year's Eve airings of the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business & Animal Crackers, WGN veteran anchor, Steve Sanders, filled in as host as current host Dean Richards was recovering from a fractured wrist and facial abrasions before the episode's taping.[8]

The set[edit]

The theme music was a piece of library music recorded on the Berry/Conroy label, entitled Moviescope, and was written by Dennis Berry. The camera would slowly zoom in on the set designed by Thomas that resembled a study with a painting on the wall of Garfield Goose done by Roy Brown, a model sailing ship sitting on top of a shelf of books with the titles of the films to be shown that were repainted encyclopedias and dictionaries also done by Anthony M Sulla as credited in the final credits, that Frazier would introduce.[4][9][10][11]

List of titles[edit]


  1. ^ "WGN 9 Chicago "Family Classics" Movie Timeline". WGN 9 Chicago. 27 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b Tufts, Chris. "Family Classics-titles and air dates". epguides. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b Okuda & Mulqueen 2004, pp. 60–62.
  4. ^ a b c Feder, Robert (2 May 2010). "Remembering a Chicago Classic:Frazier Thomas". WBEZ Radio. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  5. ^ Johnson, Allan (3 April 1988). "At 50, WGN Finds The TV Picture and Audiences Have Changed". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Chicago's Merry Own: 'Family Classics' returns to WGN-TV for special holiday showing of 'Scrooge' hosted by Dean Richards". WGN 9 Chicago. 11 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Frazier Thomas". Chicago Television. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  8. ^ Feder, Robert (12 December 2019). "Robservations: Steve Sanders saves the day on WGN's 'Family Classics'". Robert Feder. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  9. ^ Berger, Daniel; Jajkowski, Steve, eds. (2010). Chicago Television. For the Museum of Broadcast Communications; Foreword by Bob Sirott. Arcadia Publishing. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7385-7713-5. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  10. ^ "This classy portrait by Roy Brown of Garfield Goose adorned a wall on the set of "Family Classics."". LA Times. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  11. ^ Okuda & Mulqueen 2004, p. 61.


  • Okuda, Ted; Mulqueen, Jack (2004). The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television. Lake Claremont Press. ISBN 978-1-893-12117-1.

External links[edit]