Frances Horwich

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Frances Rappaport Horwich
Frances Horwich 1955.JPG
Horwich in 1955.
Born Frances Rappaport
July 16, 1907
Ottawa, Ohio
Died July 22, 2001 (aged 94)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Cause of death congestive heart failure
Nationality United States
Alma mater Columbia University (M.Ed.)
Northwestern University (Ed.D.)
Occupation Television host
Television executive
Years active 1952 - 2001
Known for Ding Dong School
Religion Judaism

Frances Rappaport Horwich (born Frances Rappaport, 16 July 1907–22 July 2001) was, as Miss Frances, the host of the popular US children's television program, Ding Dong School.

Horwich was born in Ottawa, Ohio. She earned her master's degree in education at Columbia University and her doctorate at Northwestern University. She then became the head of the department of education at Chicago's Roosevelt College.[1]

Ding Dong School was developed by the show's producer, Reinald Werrenrath, Jr., and Judith Waller, director of public affairs programming for the NBC Central Division,[2] and began to air in the Chicago area on WNBQ-TV (now WMAQ-TV). The show quickly gained popularity among young children and was broadcast nationally on the NBC network, Monday through Friday, beginning in November of 1952. In that year, Frances Horwich won the George Foster Peabody Award.[3] The series is said to have garnered a 95 percent share of all preschoolers at one time.

In 1954, Horwich moved to New York, where she supervised all of NBC's children's programming. She held this position until 1956, when Ding Dong School was canceled in favor of The Price Is Right. Horwich owned the rights to Ding Dong School and syndicated the show until 1965.

Horwich resigned from NBC in protest of the commercialism of children's education. She refused to advertise products a child could not use or that appeared to glorify violence. But in late 1955, a New York Times columnist, Jack Gould, cautioned Horwich over the use of a commercial for vitamins, implying that she inadvertently had encouraged children to swallow all pills that they found pleasing to look at: She "demonstrated how pretty the red pills were and how easy to swallow they were. 'To put it as mildly as possible, Dr. Horwich has gone a step too far in letting a commercial consideration jeopardize her responsibility to the young children whose faith and trust she solicits.'"[4]

She is cited as having invented the television technique of speaking to the viewing audience as if they were in the same room across from you. Those who subsequently adopted this style included Fred Rogers and the cast of Sesame Street.

Miss Frances was mentioned by name four different times in Peanuts comic strips by creator Charles Schulz (8 June 1954, 30 August 1955, 19 March 1956, 27 August 1956).

By 1970, Horwich had returned to Chicago and become involved with local programming again. She eventually retired with her husband, Harvey, to Scottsdale, Arizona.[5] The two were married in 1931.[6]

Frances Horwich died of congestive heart failure on 22 July 2001 at the age of 94.

A month before her death, Horwich was inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of the Television Arts and Sciences on June 2, 2001.[5] In 2006, an Ohio Historical Marker commemorating her life was placed by the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Ottawa.[7]


  1. ^ Deaths
  2. ^ Ding Dong School
  3. ^ In Memoriam
  4. ^ Packard, Vance, The Hidden Persuaders, 155.
  5. ^ a b "Dr. Frances Horwich Silver Circle Award" (PDF). Chicago Chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 2001. Retrieved 4 April 2012.  (PDF)
  6. ^ "Ding Dong School". Radio and Television Mirror. 41 (1): 16–17. December 1953. 
  7. ^ The Historical Marker Database, Internet website [1]

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