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Old-Time Boston Kids Television Shows

Once upon a time when we had only a few television stations to watch and an anemic antenna that sometimes brought us picture clarity, we enjoyed, immensely, some of the kids shows that graced the Boston television scene.

Willie Whistle hosted an afternoon kids television show on WSBK-TV Channel 38. Dressed as a clown, he had a high-pitched "whistle" voice that defied proper male voice development. Entertaining while also capable of being a major source of irritation, we couldn't get enough of Willie Whistle. He was one-of-a-kind:  how many clowns did you know that sounded like a whistle?  We always wondered who played Willie Whistle. Someone once told me it was former Ch. 38 Movie Loft Host Dana Hersey, but I don't believe that for a moment. Dana had one of the lowest voices of all-time and I personally don't think that he would have dressed up in a clown suit and show the octave range of Mariah Carey.

Rex Trailer hosted the wonderful Boomtown kids show on WBZ, Channel 4 Boston, that offered a western theme -- perfectly compatible with Boston, of course. Truth be told, Rex Trailer with that unforgettable smile, twinkle in his eye, the cowboy outfit and guitar-in-hand, created an absolutely fantastic kids show. Proof: if you were invited to be a guest on Boomtown, you were cool. Sgt. Billy came along later in the show to provide extra yuks. Always loved the opening when Rex would bellow, "Howdy Folks," and the kids would yell back, "Howdy Rex!"  The show's theme song was quite memorable, too:

Howdy there folks, we're glad to see you in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!

There's a lot of folks who'd like to greet you in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!

You can bet we'll have lots of western fun and excitement for you.
We'll ride and rope,do a square dance and shoot a gun
and we'll sing a song or two!

Come along folks 'cause we're about to start the fun in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!

From six to sixty there's something for everyone in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!

So dosy-do and swing around,
grab your gal and promenade down to


Major Mudd dressed up as an astronaut on this Channel 7 Boston kids show, perhaps riding the wave of the incredible advances in the NASA program during that time. The Major was pretty laid-back. came up with fun games for the kids, and showed some really cool cartoons, none of which I can remember. I just know they were cool.

Bunker Hill was a craggy old train conductor that hosted a kids show on Channel 56. He came across as the ultimate character actor -- and he certainly had the right "local" name for a Boston television show. He had pretty good interaction with the kids, but I remember his replacement Bob Glover was even better (no disrespect to Bunker Hill).

Bozo the Clown had national origins, but Frank Avruch played the local role on WHDH-TV Channel 5 in Boston. Frank was a marvelously talented broadcaster  and the show became nationally syndicated in the late 1960s. Frank was best known as Channel 5's "Man About Town" representing the station at cultural and community events. As a nine-year-old I remember meeting him at a party hosted by Boston radio great Norm Nathan. After spotting him at the party, I looked at my dad and said "Look, there's Bozo the Clown." He was not pleased!


  1. What, no love for Captain Bob Cottle?!? My sister and I used to get up ridiculously early early on weekends to draw animals under his tutelage. I wish tapes of his show had survived to be issued on DVD, as I'd love to show them to my children. Of the shows you've mentioned, I absolutely loved Rex Trailer's show, but I was so young when I watched it that I can't remember a single thing about it, just that I watched it religiously. I never could stand Willie Whistle, and didn't much care for Bozo. Bozo was probably a victim of collateral damage from my hatred of Willie, I think Willie ruined all clowns for me for life. I don't have any recollection of the other shows on your list, but I think I'm about a decade younger than you so that would probably account for it. It would also account for the absence of Zoom in your list. Zoom was a production of WGBH Boston back in the 1970s that my sister an I watched as children.

    1. Didn't Capt.Bob also have Beanie & Cecil? And who can forget Big Brother Bob Emory?

  2. It's always assumed that "Bunker Hill" died prior to being replaced by Bob Glover. Wait a minute. Was Bunker really an old man, or did he just play one? Did he really die, or did he switch jobs?


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