Growing up in the New York media market in the 1950s and 60s, you just can’t imagine it without Sandy Becker on TV. Which he was, from 1955 through 1968, mostly on WNEW.
This guy was a volcano of talent: nobody like him, anymore, to entertain little kids and young teens. Original puppets? Sandy not only performed them; he made them. Far-out characters? Sandy played them: Norton Nork, Hambone, the Big Professor, and the inscrutable Dr. Gesundheit. He also did cartoons.
Much of his show was live, and, alas, little of it was recorded. Much of it was ad-libbed. And you also heard a lot of Bert Kaempfert music: the theme for his daytime show, heard in this video, was That Happy Feeling. When he was on at night, it was Afrikaan Beat.
Kids’ TV in this era was overrun with talent. Along with Sandy, we had the immortal Soupy Sales and the incredible Chuck McCann, who gained national recognition by winning an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter… and his “Hi, guy! One shot and I’m good for the whole day!” deodorant commercials. Remember those? The protagonist was an ordinary gtuy who had to share a medicine cabinet with McCann’s weird character. But I digress.
Well, I can’t hear any of Bert Kaempfert’s music without thinking of Sandy Becker–gone, but lovingly remembered by probably millions of people who were kids then.
Let me see if I can get you just a tiny Hambone clip or something…