Friday, December 17, 2010

The Scrounger’s Cheapjack Christmas Special! #33: The Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show

Yep, time to play Beat the Clock...

Just Enough Information: We talked a little bit about Paul Winchell when he turned up on The Beverly Hillbillies, so now it’s time to talk about him a little bit more. My generation knew him for his cartoon voice work, but the Baby Boom generation remember his work as a ventriloquist with his “partner” Jerry Mahoney.

Winchell took up ventriloquism while he was recovering from polio at age 13. He was one of the most successful finds of Major Bowes Amateur Hour (“one of” because Frank Sinatra sets the bar for “most” awfully high), and went pro soon thereafter, with live appearances and radio shows. The Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show, a primetime variety half-hour, began in 1950 on NBC and ran until the spring of 1954, but even after that Winch continued doing a children’s show in various slots through 1961.

Oh, he was an inventor, too, and received a patent for an artificial heart he designed with Dr. Henry Heimlich. What a maneuver.

The Christmas Episode: c. 1950-54, but probably in the later part of the run. That’s all I can give you on this one.

Winch is taking care of Elizabeth, a neighbor kid…and she ain’t talking.

Even when he brings out Jerry Mahoney, things aren’t doing so well…until he brings up Christmas. And suddenly she’s chatty as all get-out. Whodathunkit.

With a little coaxing, she begins telling the story of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, but Winch drifts off into his own Christmas past, when he was the clumsiest boy in town…

…who dressed like Lord Fauntleroy…

…and to the future, where we celebrate Christmas on the Moon in the Year 2000! Oddly enough, they never heard of the stuff. You're probably saying right now "I'm pretty sure this wasn't in Dickens," but bite your lip, son.

Funny, I don’t remember anybody dressing like Captain Video in 2000. Oh sure, I did, but who else?

The whole operation is affably goofy, and apparently run on a shoestring (like a lot of early TV). Consumer Alert: He tells the “what’s snoo?” joke, so that’s what we’re up against. Paul and Jerry also do a few duets, and Winchell handles them pretty well.

Our Holiday Lesson For Today: If you book a room at a Moon resort, they don’t do refunds.

No video again. Drat. And double drat.

Next: The Scarlet Pimpernel!

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