Iowa Was Home to Longest-Running Children’s TV Show in U.S. History
When people think of longtime television shows for kids, 'Mister Rogers Neighborhood' is what likely comes to mind first. However, despite its 33-year run, it isn't the longest-running show for kids. That honor is reserved for a show here in Iowa.
'The Magic Window' was on WOI-TV in Iowa for an incredible 43 years. It started in 1951 and didn't end until 1994. The final 40 seasons were hosted by Betty Lou Varnum. A former teacher, Varnum had worked at WOI for only two days before accepting the hosting position for the show. Here are a couple of episodes from 1955:
When I was growing up in southeast Iowa, I sometimes watched another longtime show that was done in Des Moines. 'The Floppy Show' was on WHO-TV in Des Moines from 1957 to 1987. I remember my amazement as I watched host Duane Ellett and Floppy do a show live at the Iowa State Fair. It was the first time I'd ever seen live television.
Here's an episode of the show, with featured Batman, Adam West:
Another locally-produced show I watched was 'The Dr. Max Show.' It aired on WMT-TV, now KGAN, from 1961 to 1981. What kid who grew up in eastern Iowa doesn't remember the way he closed the show:? Here's the daily farewell:
Yes, we were lucky to grow up in Iowa and have so many choices as kids. It's unfortunate that kids today don't have the same opportunities.