J. P. Patches
|The J. P. Patches Show|
Logo in 1958
|Created by||Chris Wedes|
|Starring||Chris Wedes |
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||24|
|No. of episodes||around 12,000|
KCTS-TV (J.P. Patches: Last Night at the City Dump)
|Original release||February 10, 1958 – September 25, 1981|
J.P. Patches: Last Night at the City Dump special: December 14, 2011
J. P. Patches (real name: Julius Pierpont Patches) was a clown and the star of The J.P. Patches Show, an Emmy Award-winning local children's television show on Seattle station KIRO-TV, produced from 1958 to 1981. The character and show were created by the late Seattle children's entertainer Chris Wedes (April 3, 1928 – July 22, 2012). When it left the air in 1981, the J.P. Patches Show was one of the longest-running locally produced children's television programs in the United States.
The J.P. Patches Show
The J.P. Patches Show was on TV for 23 years. For the first thirteen years, it was on twice a day, mornings and afternoons, six days a week (including Saturdays, where it aired only once, in the morning) from Monday, February 10, 1958 through Saturday, December 26, 1970. Then, for the next eight years, J.P. did the morning show only, six days a week, Monday, December 28, 1970, through Saturday, December 30, 1978. Finally, for the last two years, J.P. appeared on Saturday mornings only, Saturday, January 6, 1979 through Saturday, September 19, 1981. There was one final week of episodes, mostly retrospectives and farewells, from Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25, 1981. The J.P. Patches Show ended up broadcasting around 12,000 episodes.
The show premiered on February 10, 1958 on KIRO-TV. The show was immensely popular in the Puget Sound area and southwestern British Columbia; at the peak of its run, the program had a daily local viewership of over 100,000. It was enjoyed not only by children but also by their parents, who appreciated J.P.'s frequent use of double entendre (G-rated) and sly subversiveness that mostly went over their kids' heads. Two generations of viewers grew up as "Patches Pals", sharing the joyful zany antics of J.P. with their kids. Patches Pals were reminded every show to follow the Patches Pals daily checklist:
- Mind Mommy and Daddy
- Wash hands, face, neck, and ears
- Comb hair
- Brush Teeth
- Drink your milk
- Eat all of your food
- Say your prayers
- Share your toys
- Put toys away
- Hang up clothes
The J.P. Patches Show competed with two other local children's shows, Captain Puget on KOMO-TV, and Wunda Wunda and King's Klubhouse, both on KING-TV. Captain Kangaroo, CBS's own long-running children's show, saw its first half-hour preempted by KIRO-TV in favor of J.P. Patches.
After 23 years, KIRO-TV cancelled the show as a result of declining ratings, and the final episode was broadcast on September 25, 1981. After the TV show stopped airing, Wedes continued to portray J.P. at many public and private charity events for another thirty years despite suffering in later years from incurable (but in remission) blood cancer. In particular J.P. spent many hours visiting sick children at Seattle Children's Hospital in Laurelhurst, for which Wedes never asked to be paid. In 2011, citing poor health, Wedes announced that he expected his final public appearance as J.P. would be September 17, 2011, fifty-six years after first donning the facepaint. On December 14, 2011, a primetime special was aired on KCTS-TV titled J.P. Patches: Last Night at the City Dump, which was meant to serve as a farewell for the character. On July 22, 2012, Chris Wedes died after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He was 84.
The show was live, unrehearsed improv with rarely more than two live actors on screen (Wedes and Bob Newman) but with frequent contributions from the sound effects man and off-camera crew. J.P. was the "Mayor of the City Dump", where he lived in a shack, the inside of which was the appropriately rough but colorfully-furnished studio set (currently on display at Seattle's Fremont Museum). He welcomed frequent guests: Seattle boy scout and girl scout troops, various local and national celebrities (see below), and his cast of supporting characters: Sturdley the Bookworm, Esmerelda (portrayed by a Raggedy Ann doll), Ketchikan the Animal Man (a sort of Jack Hanna character), Boris S. Wort (the "second meanest man in the world"), LeRoy Frump (a character obviously based on Art Carney's Ed Norton), Tikey Turkey (a rubber chicken), Grandpa Tick Tock (a grandfather clock with an elderly face where the pendulum would be), The Swami of Pastrami, Ggoorrsstt the Friendly Frpl (a one-eyed brown shag carpet), Miss Smith (a motorcycle riding delivery woman who told mostly awful jokes), Superclown (a JP like superhero), J.P.'s evil counterpart P. J. Scratches (per official site I.M. Rags), and J.P.'s girlfriend, Gertrude. Virtually the entire supporting cast, male and female, human or non-human, was played by the versatile Bob Newman.
Bob Newman (b. January 24, 1932, Mercer Island) came to KIRO-TV as a film-editor and floor director in 1960, two years into J.P.'s run. He started hanging around the set, just to watch the fun. One of J.P.'s bits was to call the city dump operator Gertrude on a big yellow phone, although Gertrude herself was never seen or heard. One day as J.P. requested a ham sandwich from Gertrude for a picnic, Newman yelled out, in a falsetto voice, "Okay Julius, I'll send it right down." Wedes was as surprised as everyone else, but from that day forward Newman became Gertrude, with his falsetto voice, frumpy dress and wig made from a dyed red mop. J.P. got his ham, alright, as Bob Newman was willing to do anything for a laugh and proved to be the perfect foil for Wedes' improvisational comedy. He provided over 17 characters for the show and remained a faithful friend to Chris Wedes until the end.
J.P. announced the birthdays of selected Patches Pals by "viewing" them on his "ICU2TV" set (a cardboard prop that created the appearance that J.P. was looking at you from inside your television). He predicted where a gift might be hidden in the child's house with amazing accuracy (with the never-mentioned assistance of a postcard from a parent). The sound effect used was the same, distinctive ringtone of Lloyd Cramden's "presidential hotline" telephone in Our Man Flint.
Famous guests on TV show
Broadcaster Daryl Laub created the J.P. Patches character in 1953 for WTCN-TV in Minneapolis, but when he left WTCN in 1955 for KSTP-TV, Chris Wedes (pronounced WEE-dus) took over the character from that point on. Wedes appeared on several WTCN programs. Besides J.P., his most notable character was Joe the Cook on WTCN's Lunch with Casey. Wedes brought J.P. with him when he moved to Seattle in 1958 to become KIRO-TV's first floor director. In addition to the long-running TV show, J.P. Patches made frequent fundraising appearances for local charities. He was a common sight at Children's Hospital, visiting sick kids and promoting the work of the hospital.
Late for the Interurban statue
On August 17, 2008 a bronze statue of J.P. and Gertrude was unveiled on North 34th Street, about 250 feet east of the intersection with Fremont Avenue North, in the Fremont section of Seattle. The unveiling date was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the J.P. Patches show. The statue is called Late for the Interurban by sculptor Kevin Pettelle and is approximately 250 feet east of Waiting for the Interurban. The unveiling was attended by hundreds of Patches' Pals, including Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, Congressman Jim McDermott, King County Executive Ron Sims, and several members of the county and city councils; both Chris Wedes (J. P. Patches) and Bob Newman (Gertrude) were present. The event was emceed by Pat Cashman, and the keynote address was given by Wedes' 16-year-old granddaughter, Christina Frost.
Merchandise and Videos
- A J.P. Patches action figure is distributed by Seattle novelty dealer Archie McPhee, along with a bobblehead, lunchboxes, Christmas ornaments and assorted other collectibles.
- In 1992, four VHS video tapes were released of the J.P. Patches Show. Because the show was performed and broadcast live—in real time—very, very little footage of the show was ever made. There is a Christmas show, there is a highlights reel, there is a 20th anniversary show put together in 1978, and there is J.P.'s final show in 1981. All of the above footage was incorporated into a 2-DVD set in 2005.
- The book J.P. Patches, Northwest Icon, by Bryan Johnston and Julius Pierpont Patches (Chris Wedes), (ISBN 0897167996) was released in 2002 by Peanut Butter Publishing.
- Johnston has also written a novel about Boris S. Wort and his campaign to meanify Seattle, entitled "The 2nd Meanest Man In The World" (2017). Seattleites "of a certain age" will find many icons and events of their childhood put into the perspective of Wort's nefarious plot.
- In addition to the book and action figure, DVDs and tee shirts have been available at the Channel 9 store.
- JP was listed as one of Krusty the Clown's birthday buddies in the animated television show The Simpsons (episode "Radio Bart") along with Bart. This was similar to JP's I.C.U.2-TV segment. Matt Groening, the creator, drew a lot of inspiration from his former home in the Pacific Northwest such as naming the streets. JP and fellow Pacific NW clown Rusty Nails are considered the inspiration for Krusty.[better source needed][not in citation given][not in citation given]
- J.P. Patches Official Website
- Fremont Troll
- List of local children's television series (United States)
Notes and references
- HistoryLink Essay: Patches, Julius Pierpont
- Longer running local children's shows include The Bozo Show on WGN (1960—2001) and The Magic Window (1951—94) on WOI.
- Don McCune at HistoryLink.org
- Ruth Prins at HistoryLink.org
- Stan Boreson at HistoryLink.org
- such as at the PNE in Vancouver in August 2007 and Roslyn Coal Miner Days in 2006
- "An ill J.P. Patches will appear at waterfront Halloween party". The Seattle Times. October 24, 2007. Archived from the original on October 27, 2007.
J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647) [sic]. ""J.P.'s Appeareances" [sic]". JPPatches. Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
and licenses J.P. Patches merchandise.
JPPatches (2005). "J.P. Patches". Home > Pacific Northwest Shop > J.P. Patches. Channel 9 Corporation. Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647) [sic]. "Patches Pal News". 2006 appearances, inclusive. JPPatches. Archived from the original on 2006-04-09. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- "J.P. Patches' last public appearance is Saturday". The Seattle Times. September 15, 2011. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011.
- Broom, Jack (22 July 2012). "Obituary: "J.P. Patches," Seattle's beloved TV clown". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
StevenL (2005-11-13). "OlyBlog, Evergroove Trivia pt. 37". OlyBlog.net. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
(2) Wedes & Johnston; Hobson (ed.)
- Latest statue news
- "Our Projects: J.P. Patches and Gertrude go Bronze to raise funds for Children's Hospital!". Archived from the original on April 8, 2008.
- "Home". Kevin Edwin Pettelle and Soul in Bronze Sculpture Studio.
- McNerthney, Casey (August 18, 2008). "J.P. Patches, Gertrude honored with new statue". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- Amazon listing of JP Patches videotape
- Wedes, Chris (performer, author); Newman, Bob (performer, author); Towey, Joe (director); in association with KIRO Television (1993). J.P. Patches. [Vol. 4, J.P's magic house] (VHS). Seattle: City Dump Productions. B&W with color sequences, remaster of rescued original recordings c. 1960s - early 1970s.
- Wedes, Chris (performer, author); Newman, Bob (performer, author); "a cast of thousands"; Towey, Joe (director in association with KIRO Television, author); Jones, Rich (director in association with KIRO Television, author) (1992). The J.P. Patches Show. [Vol. 1, Gertrude reveals Superklown] (VHS). Seattle: City Dump Productions. Remaster of rescued original recordings c. 1970s.
- Beck, Dave (2001-01-04). "J.P. Patches and Gertrude". Weekday. KUOW-FM. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-06-27.
Link to RealAudio archive of interview on local morning program on KUOW-FM 94.6, Seattle.
Host talks with local Seattle stars from the J.P. Patches Show, 54m 56s.
RealAudio link: "http://126.96.36.199/ramgen/archive/weekday/wkdy010104-b.rm?start='00:01:59.000'&end='00:56:05.048'[permanent dead link]"
- Center for Urban Horticulture (1999). "History @ UBNA". Union Bay Natural Area. Departments, University of Washington. Archived from the original on 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2006-04-21. Date per "Montlake Landfill Information SumMarchy, January 1999".
- "Character name search". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-04-21.[dead link]
- J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647) [sic]. ""J.P.'s Appeareances" [sic]". JPPatches. Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- J.P. Patches.com.Co.Inc.Ltd.International (1647) [sic]. "Patches Pal News". JPPatches. Archived from the original on 2006-04-09. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
2006 appearances, inclusive.
- Johnston, Bryan; Wedes, Chris (2002). Hobson, Tom, ed. J.P. Patches, Northwest icon. Seattle: Peanut Butter Publishers. ISBN 0-89716-799-6.
Chris Wedes holds the copyright, Bryan Johnston is the author.
- JPPatches (2005). "J.P. Patches". Home > Pacific Northwest Shop > J.P. Patches. Channel 9 Corporation. Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Paynter, Susan (2006-02-17). "This clown truly deserves a statue". Seattle Post-intelligencer. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Phelps, Myra L. (1978). Public works in Seattle. Seattle: Seattle Engineering Department. ISBN 0-9601928-1-6.
- Stein, Alan J. (2003-03-02). "Patches, Julius Pierpont". HistoryLink.org Essay 5344. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Stein referenced Jack Broom, "The J.P. Generation", Pacific Magazine, The Seattle Times, 4 April 1993, pp. 6-11,14-17;
- Bill Cartmel, "Hi Ya, Patches Pals", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 April 1971, pp. 6-7;
- Erik Lacitis, "Patches Understands – and Survives", The Seattle Times, 23 February 1978, p. A15;
- [no title], The East Side Journal, 31 May 1962, p. 3; Ibid. 14 May 1969, p. 19.
- Beck, Dave (2001-01-04). "J.P. Patches and Gertrude". Weekday. KUOW-FM. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-06-27.
- "J.P. Patches". home page. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
- Chris Wedes at Find a Grave
- J. P. Patches on IMDb
- jppatches.com, official web site
- Guide to the Chris Wedes Collection on J.P. Patches at the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
- PersonRatings Profile
- HistoryLink history of J.P. Patches
- Ketchikan the Animal Man (Bob Newman) fan site
- Interview with J.P. Patches on local Seattle podcast, The Dave and Steve Show
- J.P. Patches Tribute Documentary produced by Full Focus