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It didn't take long for Chris, being who he is, to end up in front of the camera. A lot of the stations' programming was aimed at children and Chris turned out to be a natural at entertaining kids.
And once he got in front of the camera, television would never be the same.
One of his first characters was the heroic Captain 11 who hosted a daily broadcast of science fiction serials. Not a big stretch for Chris, he just had to talk with a deep voice.
Captain 11 speaks:
Every Saturday morning, Chris Wedes became Chuckwagon Chuck, a crusty old western character to host wild west movies.
Listen up pardners:
Chris was also playing small parts on WTCN's childrens programs Carnival Clown and Casey Jones like the Bearded Lady and…
The Bearded Lady:
Ahoy there mateys:
But for his most popular character (until J.P.) he would borrow from his Greek heritage (well, an outrageous Greek accent anyway) to create ...
A wide-eyed, mustachioed high energy cook with questionable culinary skills became a popular character with the viewers and a personal favorite of Chris.
WTCN's Casey Jones, played by Roger Awsumb, has a few words about Chris as Joe The Cook. For more great info about Lunch with Casey Jones, click here and off you'll go to Minnesota!
Chris and Bob Newman taped a segment for Casey's 15th Anniversary show. Chris reprises the Joe The Cook character with Bob Newman as the intrepid Charlie Chan-esque detective, Charlie Can Do.
Joe the Cook was popular enough to get his own show, Joe’s Popcorn Party, and his own sidekick, Roo Roo the Kangaroo. Here they are together clowning around on the set of the station's cooking show.
In addition to wacky sidekicks, like Roo Roo, Chris also established other elements of his style like slapstick skits and elaborate stunts. (like "The Search for Big Mike Money" and "Joe the Cook for President")
But WTCN's biggest kids shows were still Casey Jones, hosted by the famous train engineer and Carnival Clown hosted by a ragged clown by the name of J.P. Patches.
That's right ... the name "J.P. Patches" was invented by WTCN employee Clipper Smith and the character was originally played by Daryl Laub. But when Laub left WTCN for another Minneapolis station, he was forced to leave the "J.P." moniker behind. So, he became "T.N. Tatters" instead.
This left WTCN without someone to fill J.P.s shoes. (And they're big shoes, 'cause, y'know, they're clown shoes).
The obvious choice for the new J.P. was Chris Wedes. But Chris was reluctant. He was happy with the variety of characters he was playing and he didn't want to have to wear all the necessary clown makeup.
But you can't fight destiny. Chris donned the rubber nose and ears and accepted the job.
His first day as J.P. Patches didn't go so well. Calls came into the station complaining about the replacement.
But it turned out the complaints were only about the change. Soon, J.P. beat out T.N. in the local ratings.
By 1958, Chris Wedes as J.P. Patches had conquered local children's television in the twin-cities area. He had established J.P.s voice, mannerisms and style.
But this was Minnesota. It's easy to entertain dairy farmers. Try getting a laugh from a room full of lumberjacks, fisherman and aeronautical engineers (that's a challenge!). J.P. Patches would get that chance.
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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