I represent the first generation who, when we were born, the television was now a permanent fixture in our homes. When I was born people had breakfast with Barbara Walters, dinner with Walter Cronkite, and slept with Johnny Carson.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Your HOLIDAY SOR-BAY: Adam 12 and Ding Dong School
After five years on television, the last Ding Dong School was aired on NBC-TV.
Ding Dong School, billed as "the nursery school of the air", was a half-hour children's TV show which began on WNBQ-TV (now WMAQ-TV) in Chicago, Illinois a few months before its four-year run on NBC (albeit still produced in the WNBQ studios).
The program was presented from a child's point of view. A 1953 magazine article reported, "Low-angled cameras see everything at Lilliputian eye-level, stories and activities are paced at the slow rate just right for small ears and hands." Each program began with Miss Frances ringing a hand-held school bell.
A precursor to both Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the show was hosted live by Frances Horwich (aka "Miss Frances"), and at one point was the most popular TV series aimed at preschoolers. The program began in 1952 at Chicago's WNBQ television. After six weeks on the air locally, the program was picked up by the NBC television network. At the height of its popularity, Ding Dong School had three million viewers.
The show and its host, Miss Frances, were mentioned in the comic strip Peanuts in 1955 and 1956. In the February 20, 1956 Peanuts comic, Lucy refers to the "Ding Dong School" TV show as the one that her mother allows her to watch if she eats all of her breakfast.
The show was revived in 1959 as a syndicated program, now videotaped and distributed by National Telefilm Associates. This iteration ran until 1965.
Five NBC kinescoped episodes from 1954-1955 are housed at the Library of Congress, in the J. Fred and Leslie W. MacDonald Collection.