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Characters and Puppets

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Here we feature a gallery of the puppet chacters who inhabited the Toyshop, and inspired our imaginations . . .

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Mr. Tree Illustration by Dave Wagstaff

The puppet characters on Luci's Toyshop brought to-life many unique personalities.  Most of them illustrated some child-like characteristic.  Dragon, Lamb, Stanley Mouse, George Giraffe, Pierre, Wonder-Witch -- they each represented more extreme versions of kids we all knew from the playground. 
 
Did you know that all the puppets were designed and created by Luci herself?  And, the personalities and voices for most of the puppets were provided by one man -- Chuck White. 
 
More below . . .

Stanley Mouse

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Stanley Mouse in the mid-1960s (Puppeteer: Lucille Gasaway VanLeeuwen)

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Sheram Puppets Stanley Mouse (toy puppet) -- 1969

It is believed that Stanley Mouse was the only lasting puppet chararacter to follow Luci from TV Kindergarden to Luci's Toyshop in 1960.  And Stan was one of only three puppet characters to appear on the earliest episodes of Luci's Toyshop.  The other two were George Giraffe and Lion.
 
For many years, every episode of Luci's Toyshop began with a scene in the Toyshop window featuring Stanley Mouse and Dragon.  This scene typically established the theme for that day's episode, and was followed by the opening credits / theme song.  Next came Luci's first scene, and the show was off-and-running.  A little trivia -- Luci could never appear at the same time as Stanley Mouse, because Luci was the puppeteer for Stan.

Chan-10

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Chan-10 -- mid-1960s (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

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After the GONG!!!! -- Chan-10 "came and went" through this cloud-of-smoke

Chan-10 was a character who imparted sage-wisdom whenever folks at the Toyshop found themselves in a predicament -- and that was nearly every day!  Luci would summon Chan by striking an invisible "gong" -- but because it was invisible, it might take her two or three tries.  When Luci successfully hit the gong, the screen would become cloudy with mysterious smoke, then Chan-10 would appear.   

 

Chan-10 was a popular character on Luci’s Toyshop until around 1970, when it was determined the puppet promoted stereotypes of Chinese culture.  At that point, Chan-10 disappeared into his cloud-of-smoke one last time. 

Dragon

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Dragon in the mid-1960s (Puppeteer : Chuck White)

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When Dragon gets mad, he grows!

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Sheram Puppets Dragon (toy puppet) -- 1969

Described as the show's "antagonist," Dragon was certainly a grump, a curmudgeon, and a spoiled-brat.
 
He was the quentisential child-figure on Luci's Toyshop, and perhaps one of the most educational.  Being a dragon (or a child?), he often lost control of his emotions.  And when angry -- he exhibited his anger in a most obvious way -- he grew, and GREW!  He grew to the size of an adult -- yet, that never helped with the anger.  Only when Dragon could understand the reasons for his emotion and calm-down, would he return to his normal "child-like" size.

Gumby

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Art Clokey's Gumby (clay-mation, syndicated)

WBNS-TV became the first television station in the U.S. to purchase the syndication rights to Gumby episodes, when the claymation short films became a part of Luci's Toyshop.

 

Lamb

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Lamb -- mid-1960s (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

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Lamb -- 1969

Lamb was a shy little character and a humble soul who appeared at Luci's window daily to recite the ABCs --
 
"A, B, C, D, E, F, G --
H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P --
Q, R, S, T, U, V --
W, X, Y, and Z --
 
Now, I've said my ABCs,
Tell me what you think of me."
 
And Luci's response . . .
 
"We think you're WONDERFUL!!"

 

Neville the News-Hound

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Neville the News-Hound (puppeteer: Lucille Gasaway VanLeeuwen)

Little is remembered about Neville the News-Hound, except that he was a dog character and one of the early puppets used on the show.  He is also said to be one of the first characters to be "dismissed" from the Toyshop. 

Pierre Poodle

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Pierre in the mid-1960s (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

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Pierre, Luci, and the birthday cake, 1969

One of Luci's most endearing traditions was her daily visit with Pierre Poodle.  On nearly every episode of the show's twelve-year run, Luci would approach the Toyshop's fireplace and find her old friend, Pierre, sitting on the mantle.  There they would send birthday greetings to all the kids celebrating on that particular day.
 
"I wish I had a birthday cake,
--wish I had a birthday cake,
I wish I had a birthday cake --
Right here in the Toyshop!"
 
In a couple of interviews, puppeteer Chuck White has told the story of Pierre's origins.  According to Mr. White -- in the early 1960s, he and Luci were standing in a hallway at WBNS-TV, discussing a possible new puppet character for the show.  When they agreed that the character would be a French-poodle, Luci went home and created the Pierre puppet over-night.  Pierre appeared on the show the next day, and immediately became one of Luci's iconic characters.
 

George Giraffe

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George -- mid-1960s (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

Standing over six feet tall, George Giraffe was one of the few "hard-bodied" puppets on Luci's Toyshop.  George was created from Celastic, a fairly popular molding material of the day -- often used in the construction of "hard" (versus cloth/soft) television puppets.  George's mouth was operated from below, by a wire leading from the puppet's lower-jaw to the puppeteer's (Chuck White's) hand.
 
George was among the earliest puppets to appear on Luci's Toyshop -- in fact, he was one of only three puppet characters featured on the show's premiere.  The other two were Stanley Mouse and Lion.

Walrus

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Walrus -- 1969 (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

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Luci and Walrus recite the Pledge

Among all the puppets on Luci's Toyshop, Walrus was the most similar to a "Jim Henson Muppet."  He was larger, furrier, softer, fluffier, and goofier than most of the other puppets on the show. 
 
Walrus met-up every day with Luci to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
 
"Hand on your heart, Walrus --
-- hand on your heart  . . ."
 
"I pledge allegiance to the flag,
Of the United States of America,
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all."

Froggie

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Froggie toy puppet from Sheram Puppets trade catalog -- 1968 (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

Froggie was a nearly silent little character -- a companion to Mr. Tree.  He sat in the fork of one of Mr. Tree's limbs, and when spoken to, Froggie's consistant reply was "Ribbb-it, ribbb-it, ribbb-it" 
 
Froggie was one of the few puppet characters on the show, that was never anthropomorphized -- meaning he was not ascribed human characteristics, mainly a human voice.  Froggie couldn't talk like the other puppets, and seemed (to the kids anyway), to be a fairly normal well-adjusted frog.
Ribbb-it, ribbb-it, ribb-it . . .

Wonder Witch

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Wonder Witch -- 1995's Crystal Palace Tribute to Luci's Toyshop (Puppeteer: Lucille VanLeeuwen)

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Sheram Puppets Wonder Witch (toy puppet) -- 1969

Wonder Witch was the last important puppet character to join Luci's Toyshop.  She fist joined the show around 1968, and became a lovable, bumbling, mistake-making "caster-of-spells". 
 
Wonder Witch's bumbling-nature was exhibited most recently in 1995's "Crystal Palace Tribute to Luci's Toyshop."  In this Luci's Toyshop reunion, Wonder Witch was central to the plot, in which she and Mr. Tree popped-up in a most unexpected place -- Princess Kareena's Crystal Palace.  Meanwhile, Luci and the other Toyshop characters searched for clues to assist in awakening Mr. Tree, after a twenty-three-year sleep.
 
Some trivia -- Since Luci provided the voice and puppeteering skills behind Wonder Witch, the two never appeared in the same scene together.

Horace the Horse

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Horace the Horse -- 1969 (Puppeteer: unknown -- assumed, Chuck White)

Horace the Horse was one of only two Luci's Toyshop "big" cloth puppets (the other being big/angry Dragon).  Horace was similar in design to big-Dragon, with one major difference -- it took two people to operate the Horace puppet.  Like so many comedic horse costumes, Horace's mouth and front legs were operated by one puppeteer, while his back legs were those of a second unlucky individual, forced to bend-over for the duration of each of the character's scenes.  Check out the photo, and the mis-matching pant-legs showing below the costume. 

Mr. Tree

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Luci and Mr. Tree -- "It's daytime, can't you see?" (Puppeteer: Chuck White)

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Mr. Tree surrounded by friends -- 1969

Joining the show around 1967, Mr. Tree immediately became one of the most popular characters on Luci's Toyshop. 
 
Similar in many ways to Captain Kangaroo's "Grandfather Clock" -- Mr. Tree was a massive puppet (nearly seven-feet tall), he slept most of the time, and could only be awakened through a particular ritual . . . the "Mr. Tree song."
 
Here are the lyrics . . .
 
"Hi there, Mr. Tree,
We're very glad to see you,
Wake-up Mr. Tree,
It's daytime, can't you see?"
 
 
To hear the Mr. Tree Song as recreated by the late Steve Korte, click the link below:

The Mr. Tree Song

 

Lion

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Lion, circa 1960 (puppeteer: Chuck White)

 Lion was one of only three puppet characters to appear on the earliest episodes of Luci's Toyshop.  The other two were George Giraffe and Stanley Mouse. 
 
Although well remembered by early Luci's Toyshop fans, Lion disappeared from the show in the very early 1960s.  Please contact us, if you have memories of this puppet, or a better photo.

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