Ramblin' Rod Anders
Ramblin' Rod Anders (November 26, 1933 – May 11, 2002), born Rodney Carl Andersen, was the host of The Ramblin' Rod Show, a morning children's television program in Oregon, from 1964 until his retirement on August 8, 1997. The KPTV host was well known locally for his iconic, button-covered sweater which he wore on air. He was rumored to have been the inspiration for Krusty the Clown, a character on the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons, but this was eventually refuted.
Anders grew up in Multnomah County, Oregon and was born at St. Vincent's Hospital. He began his career in radio broadcasting in the 1950s, singing and playing music on Saturday mornings for Tillamook radio station KTIL. He stayed with KTIL until he was drafted into the armed forces, where he served as a radio repairman. When his tenure was up, he returned to radio, filling on-air positions beginning in 1958 at KFLW in Klamath Falls, Oregon and continuing to KXL and KPOJ.
While working for KPOJ, Anders heard of an opening for a host on a local children's show called Popeye's Pier 12 on KPTV. He replaced host Bob Adkins (better known as "Addie Bobkins"). In the early 1970s, the show was renamed The Ramblin' Rod Show.
By the late 1970s, Anders had begun to wear message buttons on his cardigan, all of which were given to him by fans. Within a few years, his cardigan was almost completely covered. At one point, the host estimated that he had received 10,000 to 15,000 buttons.
Each year, Anders helped anchor the KPTV local coverage of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and the Easter Seals Telethon. He served as a moderator on a Saturday morning talk show called 12 in the Morning and appeared in advertisements for Mike Salta Pontiac and Beaverton Toyota, two local car dealerships. Anders was also the in-house studio announcer for KPTV for many years. He retired in August 1997.
In 1994, he constructed the Apple Valley Airport on land near his log cabin home in Buxton, Oregon, west of Portland. During his retirement, Anders enjoyed flying and spending time with his family. He died in May 2002 after succumbing to a stroke suffered while making a personal appearance at a Portland Volunteers of America Thrift Store located at 181st and Division streets, now defunct.
According to an article that appeared in the Eugene Register-Guard, the premise of The Ramblin' Rod Show was that children "love slapstick comedy... and kids love to see themselves on television, which is why Anders insisted on the individual shots of each child." The show was very popular, with a 20-25% share in its time slot and an audience that was often booked a month in advance.
The show highlighted Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, and Popeye cartoons and also hosted a smile contest featuring members of the audience as contestants. Anders began each show by arriving on the set in a mobile tug-boat prop. The series, originally entitled "Popeye's Pier 12", had several marine-themed characters but they were phased out over time, replaced with Chuck E. Cheese and his Pizzatime Players, who would come out and do a song and dance number with the audience, usually to slightly altered Americana songs, such as Dancin' in the Street.
The premise of The Ramblin' Rod Show remained simple throughout Anders' tenure. The host introduced each guest, spoke with them, celebrated birthdays, played old cartoons, and hosted smile contests. In the early years, he played guitar and had a skunk puppet named Petunia, which was phased out in later years.
Smile contest winners and children celebrating their birthdays were entitled to complimentary Pop Shoppe soda.
Krusty the Clown inspiration
A decades-old rumor claims that Ramblin' Rod inspired Matt Groening to create the character Krusty the Clown, the bitter host of a fictional children's program on The Simpsons. Groening, who grew up in Portland, was likely aware of Anders' show on KPTV. However, in interviews, Groening has mentioned that it was Ramblin' Rod's predecessor on KPTV, a clown named Rusty Nails, who served as a partial inspiration for the Krusty character.
In autumn of 2011, the Fizz Soda and Candy Shop, located in Portland, created, and are still adding to, a shrine to Ramblin' Rod. KPTV donated his microphone and an original Ramblin' Rod button to the shrine.
- "Ultimate Ramblin' Rod Page". Platypus Comix. 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Still Ramblin' After All These Years". Eugene Register-Guard. 19 February 1989. p. F1. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Beck, Bob (15 February 1984). "Ramblin' Rod Puts in 20 Years as Kids' Show Host". Midweek Magazine.
- Libby, Brian (22 May 2002). "Requim for Ramblin' Rod". Willamette Week. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Colby, Richard (April 1, 2005). "Airstrip plans have residents in an uproar". The Oregonian.
- "Krusty Was a Christian Clown Called Rusty Nails". WENN via IMDB. 24 October 2000. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Jones, Allison (25 October 2011). "Five Questions". Portland Monthly. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Web Staff. (2012, Feb 23). Portland sweets shop pays tribute to ramblin’ rod. KPTV Online, Retrieved from http://www.kptv.com/story/17006699/portland-sweets-shop-pays-tribute-to-ramblin-rod, Retrieved 12/2/2012
- Archive of Yesterdays KPTV Ramblin Rod/Popeyes Pier 12 page, selected screenshot collection
- Rod's final show and goodbye
- on YouTube