NBC Children's Theatre (partially found anthology TV series; 1963-1973)

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NCT The Reluctant Dragon.jpg

Puppet characters from the episode "The Reluctant Dragon".

Status: Partially Found

NBC Children's Theatre was an American television anthology series that aired from 1963 to 1973. Many of the stories were derived from classic and contemporary children's literature. Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, Hugh Downs, and Burl Ives were the narrators. Actors and actresses included Fran Allison, Geraldine Page, James Earl Jones, Tony Dow, Judy Carne, Tim Matheson, and Sterling Holloway. The show was nominated for four prime-time Emmys and won two Peabody Awards.

It would seem that all episodes are currently lost in that they are unavailable for public viewing for the most part. None of them have ever been released on home video, and no parts of the show can be found online.

Several of the episodes, however, are in the collection of The Paley Center for Media; "Stuart Little", "Hansel and Gretel", "The Enormous Egg", "Circus Town", "All About Me", "The Street of Flower Boxes", "No Pets Allowed", "Quillow and the Giant", and "Super Plastic Elastic Goggles". These can be viewed by the public, but only at The Paley Center's locations in New York and Los Angeles.

There are also episodes at certain libraries.[1]

A website called Skary Guy Video apparently sells an episode of it on a compilation DVD of "creepy" puppet shows.[2]

Interestingly, an editorial search on Getty Images will bring up quite a few photos taken during the filming of several episodes. These show various cast members and parts of the sets.

Here is a list of known episodes of NBC's Children's Theatre that are known to exist in collections or in libraries:

  • Circus Town - "Shows how the residents of Peru, Indiana, join together to present a full-length circus every summer. Includes scenes of auditions, training, rehearsals, and the actual performances."
  • Rabbit Hill - "A story which tells how the small animals who live on Rabbit Hill are affected by the new owners who move into the big house and plant a garden."
  • For the Love of Fred - "A puppet film in which a caterpillar's friends try to help him become a butterfly. For elementary grades."
  • Super Plastic Elastic Goggles - "Humorously explains the various aspects of color in a child's world. Includes appearances by Judy Carne, James Earl Jones, Tom Poston, James Coco, Tammy Grimes, and the Goggles Quartet"
  • A Day with Bill Cosby - "Comedian Bill Cosby and drug experts Father Egan, John Stuart Marr, and Ulysses Williams explain the dangers of drug abuse to children. For elementary grades."
  • Stuart Little
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Enormous Egg
  • All About Me
  • The Street of Flower Boxes
  • No Pets Allowed
  • Quillow and the Giant

A songbook[3] and a vinyl soundtrack[4] for "Super Plastic Elastic Goggles" were released around the time that episode originally aired in 1971. The soundtrack's songs were by The Goggles, a band featured in the TV special. Its members were Jessica Harper, Rod McBrien, David Spinoza, and Mark Lockhart. This soundtrack was re-released on CD in Korea by Big Pink Music in 2010.[5]

On May 6th, 2021, Lost Media Wiki user SAKURARadiochan found a MEGA link to the episode "A Day With Bill Cosby". This wasn't noticed until July 24th, 2021, when Lost Media Wiki user BrayBray uploaded the full episode onto Archive.org, making it the first piece of footage found from the series in almost 50 years.

Ever since the 1960's, the giant Triceratops statue that was used to represent Uncle Beazley in the show's 1968 adaptation of The Enormous Egg has been part of the Smithsonian's collection as it was taken on set to the National Zoological Park and National Museum of Natural History where parts of the serial were filmed. The statue was first unveiled at the Anacostia Community Museum for its public opening on September 15, 1967; months before the NBC production would air the next year. Afterwards, Uncle Beazley was placed on the north side of National Mall, adjacent to NMNH where it became a playground for children who would climb on top of and play "King of the Hill" as vintage newspaper articles state; mulch and wood were scattered around the model to safe-proof it in 1981. Since 1994, Beazley has been reinstated into the Zoological Park; fenced off on a patch of land near Lemur Island. [6] Sculpted by Hungarian-born artist and taxidermist Louis Paul Jonas, Uncle Beazley is actually one of two life-size fiberglass Triceratops statues that he first made for the Sinclair Oil Company exhibit during the 1964 New York World's Fair; [7] the other one wound up in Louisville, Missouri and was displayed outside the Museum of Science & Industry before it wound up abandoned in an outdoor storage area. [8] Along with loaning the World's Fair dinosaur to NBC, Jonas was commissioned to make five smaller models that represent Beazley's growth progression and the four of them were donated to Pittsfield's Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate organization in Massachusetts, by NBC Children's Theatre producer George Heinemann in 1979; they would later be moved to the Berkshire Athenaeum in October 2014 after the Spark!Lab play space was installed in their original spot. [9] Uncle Beazley used to be brown in both the film and when it was on display in Smithsonian properties, though in February 2011, he became noticeably worse for wear as he was taken to the Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central where he received structural repairs and a makeover. When he returned in mid-March, Beazley sported a brand new forest green color scheme. [10]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

The March 27th, 1971 episode of NBC Children's Theatre, "A Day With Bill Cosby".

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]