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In the early days, J.P. recruited a number of floor directors and stage hands to be characters on the show.
Chris and Bob talk about the early cast members:
Before there was Ketchikan the Animal Man, there was Uncle Jack played by KIRO stage hand, Jack Armstrong.
It was magic that morning in 1958 when the first JP Patches program was televised live from the studios of the brand new KIRO-TV.
It was a special time for me. I had finished my degree at the University of Washington, completed military service, recently married and now was part of the first KIRO production team. I was having a grand time.
On the first program JP introduced Mr. Slick, one of the repertory characters who would appear on the program. None of us knew what to expect. Slick arrived at the city dump with a long ladder in tow ready to sell it to JP.
From the moment he arrived, the ladder was a lethal contraption crashing and careening into JP and everything else in the shack at the dump. It was hilarious and had the whole crew convulsed with laughter. From that moment we were all Patches Pals.
As the program developed JP asked me to perform two bit parts, Sturdly the Bookworm and Uncle Jack the Animal Man. I was pleased to develop the voice and physical actions for the little green worm who lived deep inside the bookcase in JP's shack. He was an erudite, wise cracking little fellow who ate books to absorb their content and never paid JP the rent he owed him to live in the bookcase. The sketch's we presented were outlined, with the content between open and close essentially spontaneous. The chemistry between JP and Sturdly was humorous and entertaining. Much of the time I didn't know what the worm was going to say or do. I wondered if he was my alter ego or I his. I was very fond of him.
Uncle Jack the Animal Man was developed to encourage an ethic of responsibility and humane care for all animals.
We worked closely with the Seattle Humane Society's pet adoption program and helped many animals into new homes.
My sidekick was a magnificent German shepherd named Raja, pictured with me in his puppy stage. His gentle, patient personality made him a perfect mix with the Patches Pals.
Along the way the character expanded and Uncle Jack developed more bits and gags. Other duties at KIRO included directing Patches and other programs. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Times change and so do career directions. It was with mixed emotions that I resigned at KIRO and went into advertising. Over a period of time I realized I missed the environment of the television studio. In 1966 I joined the staff of KCTS-TV as a Producer-Director then Production Manager.
The University of Washington offered many paths for personal development. In 1972 I accepted a position with their instructional media department as an Assistant Director for the department and also as Production Manager. I remained until 1996 when I retired.
Throughout the years I maintained freelance activity both in front and behind the camera. My favorite project was working with my friends at Small World Productions. I produced several programs in the Travels in Europe television series with host Rick Steves. From Portugal to Turkey it was a real adventure.
Our family home is still in the Seattle Area. My wife Colleen and I travel regularly and spend the rest of our time pulling weeds and keeping up with the families of our three children who have grown to include seven grandchildren.
A friend from the program and I were reminiscing about the early days with JP and he commented Weren't we privileged to be part of the program? Yes, we were. I'm still a Patches Pal and I always will be.
Mr. Slick, who originally sold J.P. the city dump, was played by Dick Hawkins.
Sheriff Shot Badly was played by Don Einarsen.
After spending a year at radio KBRC, Mount Vernon, Washington, I joined KIRO radio in 1954. Moved to KIRO TV when station first went on the air in 1957. Was one of the first "Mr. Announcer Mans" on J.P.'s morning show. I dreamed up Sheriff Shot Badly around 1960. after being inspired by a skit on the Steve Allen show.
Appeared irregularly on the J.P. Patches show and had my own show for 26 weeks in 1961.
One of the longest lived of these early characters was Professor Wienner Von Brrrrrown (The Wonder of Cape Blunder) as played by Bill Gerald who involved J.P. in a number of wacky projects.
Each morning is started out with the blank television screen. Then camera one faded up on the exterior of this dilapidated old shack at the city dump.
Mr. Music Man hit the button and Spike Jones and the City Slickers answered the cue with their timeless rendition of Dance of the Hours.
Inside the J P's shack we could see this retired clown from the Ding-A-Ling Brothers Circus snoozing away on his air bed until Grandfather Clock and his friend Coo-Coo doused our sleeping clown with cold water and/or snow depending on the time of year.
At that point, we started off on yet another adventure with JP and his many friends to the delight of an entire generation or more of dyed in the wool Patches Pals. What happened next many times was as much as a surprise to the cast and crew as it was to the Patches Pals watching all these antics at home. If it seemed that we were all having the time of our lives, that's because we were!
When I look back over the months-years-decades-Good Grief-nearly half a century, I can't help but think of this time in my life as "The Good Old Days".
I first caught the broadcast "bug" just out of Anchorage High School in Alaska and was fortunate enough to land an assignment as a Broadcast Specialist while fulfilling a request from my friends and neighbors to serve in the military, OK, so I was drafted . When discharged, I returned home to Alaska and landed a job working for KTVA-TV. Working in a small station in the 1950s, you normally did a little bit of everything, floor directing, pushing camera, editing film, sweeping floors, setting lights, the whole nine yards. A great opportunity to learn a little bit about a lot of things.
After four years of scraping frost off my windshield and camera lens, I decided it was time to see if I could find something in a warmer clime. My first stop was Seattle and the only television opening I could find was as a part-time mail clerk at KIRO-TV, well why not, at least it was a foot in the door. As time moved on, so did I, to part time floor director to full time and that is where I ran into this young man who had made a move from back east to start a children's program. He morphed one thing into another and the outcome was Julius Pierpont Patches, retired clown from the Ding-A-Ling Brothers Circus.
Many of us played different characters on the program and it was truly an exciting experience as there was no written script, just the germ of an idea that grew as each program progressed and it was all live.
I can't remember exactly how Professor Weiner Von B r r r r o o w n, The Wonder of Cape Blunder, came into being. I just never seemed able to get anything right, even with J Ps help. Armed with my rocket… that never rocketed… and other non-working notions, I just muttered to myself, scratched my beard and kept on keeping on.
Grandpa and Grandma Patches (both played by Craig Shreeve and in later years by Chris Wedes) were brought in for a few years to increase the number of older viewers.
Chris and Bob on Grandpa Patches:
Here Grandpa tries to give J.P. a flying lesson:
Was Grandma Patches nearsighted or farsighted? Whatever in the world was wrong with her eyes ... she always confused gun powder with baking powder.
Perhaps the larger question should be:
What was she doing with gunpowder in her kitchen anyway?
Here Grandma Patches "helps" the Professor and J.P. prepare for a trip to Mars:
Real life J.P. Patches Show director, Joe Towey, also played the dictatorial director, Sam Gefeltafish on the show.
Mal Content, the original dumb handyman was also played by Joe Towey. The young viewers didn't get the joke with his name and came up with "Malcolm Tent."
Joe Towey also played J.P.s evil brother, I.M. Rags. Boy, he really milked it, didn't he?
It's a shame to cover up your smile, but now you can wear the famous smile of J.P. or Gertrude! Sure to bring a spark of joy and nostalgia to all who recognize it! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Seattle Children's.
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