Doug Anderson – Punch And Judy
Label: Robin Hood – RHLP 1010
Format: Vinyl, LP
Directed By– Catherine Faulconer
Producer– Maury Laws
Punch and Judy is a traditional, popular puppet show featuring the characters of Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically the anarchic Punch and one other character. It is often associated with traditional English seaside culture.
The show is performed by a single puppeteer inside the booth, known since Victorian times as a “Professor” and assisted sometimes by a “Bottler”, who corrals the audience outside the booth, introduces the performance and collects the money (“the bottle”). The Bottler might also play accompanying music or sound effects on a drum or guitar and engage in back chat with the puppets. In Victorian times the drum and pan pipes were the instruments of choice. Today, the audience is also encouraged to participate, calling out to the characters on the stage to warn them of danger, or clue them into what is going on behind their backs. Also nowadays most Professors work solo since the need for a bottler became less important when busking with the show gave way to paid engagements at private parties or public events.
The Magic Clown was a NBC TV series which ran from 1949 to 1954. The final NBC broadcast was on June 27, 1954. The show then moved to WABD where it stayed until 1958. After that, It was renamed “Bonomo, The Magic Clown” and was broadcast on WNTA from September 29, 1958 to July 24, 1959. The show was sponsored by Bonomo Turkish Taffy. Josh Norris was the first Magic Clown, and went on to a successful career as a full time magician.
The action of the program centered around its eponymous host. Tico Bonomo said that finding a host wasn’t easy. “You can’t teach clowns to do magic, you have to have a magician and turn him into a clown. And, believe me, it’s tough teaching a good magician to put on white face and act like a clown.”
The first “Magic Clown” was known only by his stage name, Zovella, and he hosted the program from its inception in 1949 until 1952. At that time, a comedian named Richard DuBois took over, serving even after the show was cancelled by NBC and moved to DuMont-owned WABD, until 1958, when the show moved to Newark, NJ based WNTA.
The WNTA run was hosted by comedian, mimic, cartoonist, and puppeteer Doug Anderson, with assistance from his wife, former model Gayle Anderson. The couple added new segments to the show, including informational pieces and in-studio interviews as the show expanded from a weekly to a weekday basis. The Andersons, however, choked at the amount of creative control the sponsor had over the show, and the show was cancelled after only one year on WNTA.
A short-lived revival of the program, produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was created for syndication in 1970. The Magic Clown was performed in this version by now-famous magician James Randi (a.k.a. “The Amazing Randi.”)