|"I dressed up in the coat with the
epaulets and the hat and the rubber nose, it was like a ping pong ball
on the end of my nose (later, the rubber nose would disappear--see
"Pop-Pop") just to try to hide the face somewhat, and then we came on
at 12 o'clock, and it was 'Hi diddle diddle little neighbor, come join
the bunch. Take time from your labor and enjoy your
lunch. Hop aboard our jolly trolley and be a member of our
special club. I'm the conductor Mr. Poplolly, and off we go
with a rub-a-dub-dub.' And I cranked the thing up and we'd
take off and show cartoons for an hour," remembers Royal.
He continued, "We had a stylized flat that represented the streetcar--this trolley. And they had tracks painted on the floor. They would dissolve to give the appearance of us coming down the tracks. The set was maybe four feet wide and sat on the top of a two-by-four, so that if I shifted my weight, it would rock. And there was a little chimney, and in the back the floor director would hang this puppet in there, 'my little bitty buddy.' And I would pre-record a conversation with him. And they'd speed up his voice on the tape. You had to do things like this because you didn't have the funds to pay for additional talent, and in those days, everybody in the building participated. The engineers would help. They'd come up with electronic ideas. The guys on the floor would be willing to help. I'll never forget, may he rest in peace, Skip Ball was a great guy. He played the little old lady I'd meet everyday at one of the stops on the trolley. You'd just see this old lady's hand with the lace, and Skip would talk to me. It was art for art's sake, but we really enjoyed the work."
The program would chug along until 1962, when station management decided it had run its course. Offered the job of announcer for a new kid's program, "The Lorenzo Show," Parker declined and jumped to Channel 11, where he became "P.W. Doodle."
The Biggest Fun Show on TV
Royal Parker hosted this Saturday kid's show in the late '50's playing a ventriloquist.
"It was almost like Mr. Rogers. I had this cardigan sweater and there was a little stage and I had a hand puppet who was called 'Poppa Puppet.' So all of a sudden I became a ventriloquist, and I knew no more about ventriloquism than a man in the moon. I'd get the script and they'd have to cut to the puppet and get the camera off me. Well of course with one camera, they caught me mouthing the voice of 'Poppa Puppet,' so it wasn't so smooth," recalled Royal.
|Royal Parker with "Poppa Puppet," circa 1958|