Thomas - Local kiddies show host of GARFIELD GOOSE & FRIENDS
that premiered on September 29, 1952 on Channel 4 at 4:30PM on WBKB-TV
in Chicago, then moved to WBBT-TV for a year and finally ended up at
WGN-TV channel 9 from 1954 to the 1980s. Frazier Thomas created his
Garfield the Goose puppet in Cincinnati in the 1940s when he worked
at WKRC-TV until he moved to Chicago in 1951.
The program began with
an organist playing the theme song "Monkey on a String" (written by
Ethel Smith) and the narration "Garfield, the goose who thinks he's
king of the United States, and Frazier Thomas, his prime minister,
who wouldn't tell him differently for the world." Garfield Goose lived in a mock
medieval castle and communicated by making clicking sounds with his metal (tin)
beak. Sometimes, Garfield ran off stage, tapped out a note on a
typewriter and then presented it to Frazier Thomas to read.
Highlights of the program included live guests, hobby segments,
Frazier Thomas playing the Jews' harp; cartoons and live-action
segments including Clutch Cargo, Space Angel, Pow-Wow the Indian
Boy, Spunky and Tadpole, The Funny Company (an educational cartoon
series); Journey to the Beginning of Time (a 1954 Czech film dubbed
in English and cut into ten minute segments about a group of boys
who travel back in time while boating down a river); and, of course,
Garfield Goose conking Frazier on the head with his beak.
in Garfield's royal court included:
- Frazier Thomas as the Prime Minister who dressed in full
regalia of medals and epaulets (Garfield had also appointed Thomas
the Admiral of the King's Navy on October 16, 1952)
- Christmas "Chris" Goose, Garfield's nephew
(born on Christmas) who popped up during the holidays along with The
Three Little Dwarves (Hardrock, Coco and Joe)
- Frosty the Snowman and Suzy Snowflake
- Beauregard Burnside III, an aging, toothless secret service
bloodhound who was summoned by yelling the words "Hot Dogs!
Hamburgers! Spaghetti and Meatballs!")
- Macintosh the Mouse, in charge of the castle's mailroom;
- Romberg the Rabbit, the liaison between the puppets and the
- Ramona Rabbit, Romberg's girlfriend
- Mama Goose from Goose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada who earned a
purple belt in karate
- Ally Gator
- Geronimo the monkey (a real monkey introduced in 1953 but
dropped after a few years)
In 1976, the show (the longest running puppet shown on
television) was canceled when Frazier Thomas took over the role of
ringmaster on BOZO'S CIRCUS after the former host Ned Locke retired.
The Garfield Goose character continued as a regular character on
the new show (as the circus's owner) until 1981.
Born in Rushville Indiana in 1918, Frazier Thomas died from a
stroke at the age 66 at Ravenswood Hospital on April 3, 1985.
TRIVIA NOTE: Frazier Thomas, as well as Jesse Owens, "Wheaties,"
and Muddy Waters all have a Chicago street named in their honor.
Frazier's prime minister costume, puppets from the show, a faithful
reproduction of the Family Classics with Frazier Thomas set (a WGN-TV
series begun in 1962 that hosted classic films) and the original
oil painting by Roy Brown now resides in Chicago's Museum
of Broadcast Communications.
Puppeteers Roy Brown and Lee Ann Prineas (the show's original puppeteer) designed and manipulated the
program's puppets over the years.
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