|Then there's the age-old show
business rule, "Never work with children or animals." Unlike
Washington kid's show host Lee (Cap'n Tugg) Reynolds, whose feathered
sidekick Fantail was a puppet, "Pete The Pirate" worked with real
parrots. Lary remembers:
"I killed two or three parrots before I realized they couldn't stand the air-conditioning in the building. He'd take off his perch or my shoulder and start to fly and slowly go down because we clipped his wings. But then of course they grew and we never paid close enough attention, so there was always the day when instead of going down he was slowly spiraling UP. And it's five minutes to four or just before we went on the air, and the bird that we built the show around is now sitting on the light grid and it takes cherry pickers and three hours to get him out of there!"
"Pete The Pirate" went off the air in September, 1965. "I was 23 when I started and 28 when I finished, and it was like playing pirates every day. It was just an incredible thing to be able to do that for a living." Lary went on to a lucrative career in voiceovers, and hosted "Consumer Survival Kit," a national show produced at Maryland Public Television in the 1970's. Slowed in recent years by health problems, Lary Lewman, now 65 and semi-retired, continues to make his home in the Baltimore area with wife Nancy.
|Lary Lewman, c. 1960|
|Lary Lewman, June, 2001|
In the early 1960's, Channel 11 officials asked Lary Lewman to come up with another kid's show for the weekend.
"Things were going so good with 'Pete The Pirate' that they wanted to do more Pete, and I was out of story ideas," he recalls. "So they asked me to do a character associated with 'Pete The Pirate.' I'd had a really successful role in college--the first lead I played in college drama was in 'Thunder Rock' and I was a lighthouse keeper. So I thought, well nobody's ever done a kid's show as a lighthouse keeper. Now it turns out there's a good reason for that, because nothing ever happens in a lighthouse! I didn't figure that out until I got the show on the air."
The show was "Captain Fogg" on Sunday mornings. Lary continues, "I had a huge putty nose, and we're going in at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and glomming this putty on my nose, you know, and geez, all this hair. Captain Fogg--had a British accent. We did a lot of origami, mechanical magic, anything I could think of. But the worst thing, there was a guy downtown--his name I mercifully can't remember--who ran a costume shop. I was renting a coat for Earl Reeves to appear as a villian. And the guy said 'I wouldn't loan this to anyone who wasn't a professional, and I wouldn't rent this out cause it's a really valuable coat.'" Promising to take good care of the coat, Lary dumped flour and water on the villian, which hardened to a cement-like wheat paste on the precious coat. "I stayed up all night, took nine hours with a paring knife and a pair of tweezers, but there wasn't a trace of that stuff in the morning when I took it back! As Bob Jones used to say, the golden age of television wasn't so damned golden!"