1970s New York’s favorite morning kids’ show

If you were under 10 years old in the New York City area in the 1970s, your TV-watching itinerary probably consisted of at least three shows: Sesame Street, The Magic Garden, and Wonderama.


Wonderama was kid television at its best. Launched in the 1950s, the show had several hosts before Bob McAllister, described as “Buster Brown–coiffed” in his 1998 New York Times obituary, signed on.

Wonderamasnakecans“Bob took over as the fifth and final host of Wonderama on August 13, 1967, which originated from WNEW-TV in New York,” states a blog billing itself as the show’s official website.

“The show aired Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (at first it was 31/2 hours), as Bob would engage his audience in the studio and at home with magic tricks, puppet and comedy skits, songs, stories, games, informational segments, and interviews with celebrity guests.”

Those songs and games included a round of Wonderama’s anthem, “Kids Are People Too,” lots of snake cans, and audience prizes like RC Cola. If producers handed out soda to kids today, they might be arrested!

Amazingly, WNEW (formerly known as channel 5) cancelled the show in 1977 because of a decline in ratings, from 60 percent of the audience in its time slot to 36 percent.

Wonderama has long been in the TV graveyard, but luckily we have YouTube to supply a 1973 clip of the show and its signature song.

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14 Responses to “1970s New York’s favorite morning kids’ show”

  1. Sarah Says:

    In my youth it was Sonny Fox. He came to an event at our school and I have a vague memory of it being like the cynical clown from the Simpsons where he got angry at our exuberance, lit a cigarettee and left early! Ha. I loved the segment where they had a key and if it opened the magic trunk, the kid got to take home liads if presents.

  2. Fred Ost Says:

    I was a Sonny Fox years “Wonderama” viewer.Sonny Fox also hosted “Just For Fun.”

  3. Keith Goldstein Says:

    I was on Wonderama with my Boy Scout troop back in the 60s with Sonny Fox.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Wow, you were on Wonderama–did they give out Burger King and RC cola then?

    • Keith Goldstein Says:

      Burger King did not exist back then as far as I know. No RC Cola. I did win a rabbit, as I was on the show near Easter. We had a turtle and a hare race. A turtle actually won, as my rabbit refused to cross the finish line and ran back to the start line!

  5. Fred Ost Says:

    Yes, Sarah; I do remember the key to open the trunk!

  6. jmc Says:

    I was a Sonny Fox watcher too. And that stupid song wasn’t the theme back then, or at least if it was, you never heard the words. Personally, I think the show died because it got a little too condescending; kids in the 70s were a little more savvy and matured earlier than kids in the 50s and 60s did, and the show didn’t allow for that.
    I also directly credit that show with my lifelong interest in forensics, due to a segment on ballistics they did in the 60s.

  7. Allan Says:

    I was a devote viewer back in the 70s. I recall a silver bagel on a chain or string that was given out as a prize. I also enjoyed the dance contests. It was a great show.

  8. Dave Says:

    I actually don’t remember this show, probably because it was cancelled when I was only 5. But in addition to the three shows you mention that NYC-area kids in the 1970s would remember, I would add a fourth: Romper Room.

  9. Gimelgort Says:

    Does anybody here have an aardvark?

  10. Chris F Says:

    There’s a boy over there with his finger in the air…

  11. Gimelgort Says:

    “…Everyone here has a right and left ear…”. Did they check this at the door?



  13. “Chiller Theatre” used to scare a lot of city kids | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Wonderama was for the Sunday morning cartoon crowd. The PIX video game came on after school. The Yule Log ran on Christmas Day, as millions of presents were being torn open in New York City homes from the 1960s to the 1980s. […]

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