Gadzooks, the celebs are droppin’ like flies! Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Venture’s guitarist Bob Bogle, and Sky Saxon of ’60’s rock group The Seeds…and that’s just in the last 3 weeks! With the loss of Ed McMahon, I got to reminiscing about the days of TV gone by. Of course Ed was the co-host/announcer for the great Johnny Carson throughout his career. Many-a-night I stayed up late to watch Johnny at 11:30 on NBC. Their comic timing and interplay was beautiful to watch and is sorely missed in today’s modern era of cruddy TV. I must say I actually ike Conan O’Brien, but the real magic is gone. Goodnight, Ed. Hi-yoooooo!!!!
This got me to thinking about other iconic TV personalities from my youth. One stands out above the others for me: Tom Hatten. Even though he’s still breathin’, I’d like to talk about him.
If you didn’t grow up in Southern California, you’ve probably never heard of him, but for me he was a staple of my early TV watching days and a major reason I still love those old “gray shows” today.
Tom Hatten hosted several local shows starting back in the early 1950’s. He was a great cartoonist, and he had this kind face and easy way about him. His show was the format where the host shared trivia and funny banter between cartoons, short films, or during breaks in a feature film. Later, Elvira made use of this same format. Even later, “Dinner and a Movie” on TBS used the same format for their show. His first show in the 1950’s was on Los Angeles station KTLA channel 5 and later called “The Popeye Show”. Sometimes if reception was bad, you had to work that console TV dial “between the channels”, if your old enough to remember that. Anyway, Tom would have one of the kiddies from the audience come up and draw a squiggly line on a big sketch pad. He would turn the squiggle into a cartoon character…usually from Popeye, since he featured Popeye cartoons on his show. I saw these re-runs as a kid. Later, I watched Tom’s “Family Film Festival” on KTLA every Sunday afternoon in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He played Jerry Lewis movies, Bob Hope movies, the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road Movies”, the Marx Brothers, Little Rascals, all the classics. He was AMC before AMC.
Tom was an actor in some films and TV shows as well. A WWII US Navy vet, he still lives in the Los Angeles area. You can go here for a good overview of his career: http://latvlegends.com/TomHatten/TOMHAT.htm
Got a similar memory (perhaps from a local TV station from your childhood)? Tell me about it.