Sunday, October 15, 2006
Pixie the Witch Meets Bobby Sherman
Here’s one that I wrote about before during the now legendary "Bubblegumfink Era." The pictures anyway. The text is all new.
In Cincinnati at the turn of the sixties into the seventies, a man named Larry Smith managed to bridge the formidable generation gap. He did this by making what should have been a little kid’s puppet show (and in fact had been when Larry first brought his characters to TV more than a decade earlier) into a must-see teen cult program. Bringing Teaser the Mouse and Rudy the Rooster to the brand spanking new WXIX-TV, Channel 19 in 1968, Larry Smith became the hip new UHF station’s link to both the past and the future. It was a different character who stole the show, though, one Hattie the Witch. "Batty Hattie From Cincinnati," as she came to be called, was an "Oz"-style green witch who lived in a castle with a number of other residents including a "Snoopy" like dog named "Snarfy" and a monster simply called "Nasty Old Thing." Like many puppet shows, this one showed cartoons. In fact, this was my source for great obscure things including the MARVEL SUPER HEROES and ROCKET ROBIN HOOD. With a long, daily program to fill, though, perhaps it was inevitable that the puppet characters would get developed a bit more than on most shows. Thus we ended up with soap opera style subplots including a long-running generational battle between the conservative Hattie and her young niece, Pixie the Witch. Pixie, like many young girls in that era, developed a crush on the teen idol of the moment, Bobby Sherman, and Hattie just didn’t GET it!
Bobby Sherman was just coming off the two seasons of HERE COME THE BRIDES where he played the younger of the Bolt brothers, Jeremy. A bit older than he looked, he had been pursuing a low-level singing career for half a decade already when the show’s exposure pushed his records up the charts. Suddenly his face was on every teen magazine on the stands. My first girlfriend, Debbie, was just as obsessed as Pixie which led me to become a Bobby fan myself. In spite of what I now realize was a less than stellar voice, overproduced albums and a sometimes bizarre choice of material (Dylan’s "One Too Many Mornings," for example), Bobby ruled until David Cassidy ascended.
At the peak of both Larry Smith’s Puppets and Bobby Sherman’s career, WXIX arranged for Bobby to appear on the show while he was in Cincinnati for a concert appearance. Hattie the Witch conspired with Bobby in order to surprise the smitten Pixie and all the kids and teens in Cincinnati hurried home from school to catch the results, some of which are captured in these photos that originally appeared in either SIXTEEN or TIGER BEAT.
Larry Smith used to shop in my store back in the eighties and early nineties and always seemed rather dour. He tried to revive the Puppets on TV yet again about a decade ago and while it was nostalgic, it wasn’t popular and faded quickly. I hope he was/is a happy man because he brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people. Bobby’s career and even the memory of it all but disappeared but in recent years, he has hit the oldies circuit and is always a popular performer with Boomers of a certain age.