Pixanne is a children's television program, created and hosted by singer-actress Jane Norman, that ran from 1960 to 1969 on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was syndicated nationally for another seven years.
|Pioneers of Philadelphia Broadcasting Jane Norman Pixanne, Broadcast Pioneers, 29:45, January 4, 2017|
The show began when Norman, a onetime child prodigy who had been playing and composing music since she was 3 years of age, contacted one of her professors from Temple University, working at what was then WFIL and is now WPVI-TV about a possible children's program featuring a Peter Pan-like character. Though there were no openings available at WFIL, he suggested she go to the then CBS owned-and-operated station WCAU-TV. She walked in with no appointment and described the show to the Program Director. Within three weeks, the show was on the air.
Norman appeared on the show as a "pixie" with a green outfit, tights and a hat with a feather. She worked out a method of "flying" using a similar apparatus to that which Mary Martin had used as Peter Pan, but with only one wire supporting her instead of the several that had harnessed Martin on stage. She remembers that perfecting the technique was quite painful, but it proved so effective as to be maintained for the entire run of the program.
The supporting cast of puppets included Oggie Owl, Fliffy Butterfly, Herkimer, Tearesa, Galumpagus, and the puppets of Addis Williams. Pixanne had at least two alter-egos as well — one was a witch called Windy, whom Norman also acted out. Guest appearances included singer Tiny Tim.
Songs Norman sang on the show included "Swinging on a Star," "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake," "I've Gotta Crow" from the musical Peter Pan, and "Look at That Face" from the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd. The show's background music included Maurice Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and a selection from Carl Orff's Music for Children, the theme of Pixanne's daily cartoon introduction with her march with a magical flag. On the show, Norman also introduced adventure films and made children's crafts, such as puppets and hats.
Pixanne received ratings of 10-12 and a 62% share of audience near the end of its run.
When WCAU management changed in 1969, the new management took Pixanne off the air, much to the protests of millions of viewers. But the show soon came back in syndication, with WNEW-TV in New York as the flagship station. The show went off the air in 1976.
Norman's later career
Jane Norman went on to produce family-oriented network television shows, including The National Kids’ Quiz, which Michael Landon moderated on NBC. She also wrote a 1981 book with Dr. Myron Harris, The Private Life of the American Teenager, and appeared on more than 95 radio and television talk shows to promote it.
The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Norman into their Hall of Fame 2005.
Norman died at her home in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania on May 13, 2017, aged 83.
- "Broadcast Pioneers; Innovators in Philadelphia Communications!". Broadcast Pioneers. Retrieved March 26, 2017.