Back in February of 2011, I did a write-up on an installment of PBS’ Pioneers of Television series entitled “Local Kids’ TV”; it was a very entertaining hour that discussed those shows produced by local TV stations…that admittedly did very little but hawk toys and Sugar-Coated Frosted Bombs to the younger set in order to help those stations’ bottom line. (And that’s the way we liked it, if I may comment in my old man voice.) Oh, sure—you had souls who worked for a higher educational purpose, like Fred Rogers and Jim Henson, but most of them had very little aspiration beyond just entertaining the heck out of kids (see The Wallace and Ladmo Show). Then Boston housewife Peggy Charen and her organization ACT (Action for Children’s Television) came along and spoiled a good time for everyone else, and that’s why afternoon TV is clogged with crap like The Dr. Oz Show and 2,000 individuals clad in judicial robes.
The man cast as Monsieur Cartoon was Jule Huffman, a singer-announcer who doubled as WSAZ-TV’s (Huntington, WV) weatherman when the grown-ups’ show was on. Huffman was not the first guy to play Mr. Cartoon (that honor went to a man named George Lewis) but he definitely donned the loud sportscoat, fedora and sunglasses the longest—for twenty-five years, he was a role model for those kids in the Huntington-Charleston-TriState viewing area.
at the age of 91 today. Hearing the news of his death on Facebook filled me with a tremendous sadness, because I did think highly of him when I was a kidlet (even though I probably turned out differently than most of the kids in the Kartooners’ Korner—twisted and evil) and not only do I regret never getting the opportunity to be on his show (you can read all about that in the post) I lament the fact that I never took the time to perhaps put pen to paper and let him know that I was grateful for all the joy and fun he brought to me and the others who watched him every day Monday through Friday. Huffman was more than just a TV personality; he worked tirelessly for charitable causes and insisted on maintaining professionalism and respectability both in his career and his church.