Tulsa TV Memories: Tulsa TV/radio/movies/pop culture of the past      

Mr. Zing and Tuffy (click for larger version)   
Photo from Kevin Gilbert. Click on it to see a large version. 

2/23/2006: New screen shots from 'Mr. Zing and Tuffy'

6/29/2006: The webmaster's wife is in one of those photos!

8/10/2006: Leafy Bark moves to the Tulsa Historical
Society (photoset and movies of this event in GB 218).

 4/2/2007: Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson on Google Video!

Shaggy Dog, Leafy Bark, Tuffy the Tiger and Mr. Zing
Shaggy Dog, Leafy Bark, Mr. Zing and Tuffy the Tiger

"It's Mr. Zing and Tuffy time, so come along with me.
Come along and don't be late, we'll all have fun, you'll see.
There's Mr. Zing and Tuffy and all the things so great,
So, stay with us right here on Channel 8."

(Remembered by Mitch Schauer in Guestbook 12)

The John Chick Show

(from Guestbook 1) Dee Lundy in Bakersfield, CA said:

I remember John Chick having two shows. The John Chick Show was on early weekday mornings and had local "talent" (including my brother once as a bassist---webmaster). Those included Ted (the Tuf Nut Jeans spokesman) "Teddy Bear" Creekmore and Denise Burris. John Chick also starred as Mr. Zing on the Mr. Zing & Tuffy Show weekday afternoons. They later added Shaggy Dog to the cast.

(from Guestbook 179) Joel Burkhart said: I knew John Chick from the Great Folk Music Scare of the early 60s when he used to perform at various coffee houses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I ran into him again in about '73/'74 when he was hosting The John Chick Show. I was the regular mandolin player with the Friday Morning Bunch (nice pix and more info at link), a group of bluegrass musicians from various groups who would get together every Friday for an unrehearsed live show. We even made the long-playing, short-selling LP shown below.

My regular bluegrass band, Stoney Creek, also performed once on the Mazeppa show. We were invited because one of Gailard's art professors, Glenn Godsey, was also our fiddle player.

John Chick article, courtesy of Joel Burkhart

Here is The John Chick Show at the Tulsa State Fair Educational Building inthe early 70s, from Jason Fincher. His dad, Edwin, can be seen at the end of the video. "Teddy Bear" Creekmore is up on stage with John. Be sure to go full-screen on this one. More from Jason on the MAINTAIN page.

LP album from the John Chick Show recorded at Channel 8, April 1974, courtesy of Joel Burkhart
Recorded on "The John Chick Show", Channel 8, April 1974

(from Guestbook 6) Mike Bruchas said:

The anecdotes about Channel 8 preemptions reminded me of the early days of Good Morning America on ABC. At the time, KTUL preempted the first hour for The John Chick Show. Elton Rule, then president of the ABC Television Network came to Tulsa for a visit. Pushing for a clearance for the rest of GMA, he couldn't believe Tulsans favored a show that featured local musical talent (a phrase I use loosely). When shown the ratings and the backlog of advertisers lined up for the show, he backed off and agreed it was probably the right programming.

An official Mr. Zing & Tuffy T-shirt, courtesy of Lynne LeMoine
From a Mr. Zing & Tuffy T-shirt, courtesy of Lynne LeMoine

(from Guestbook 11) Bill Groves said:

For a friend's birthday, a bunch of us did appear on "Mr. Zing and Tuffy." I remember one kid asking John Chick if we'd be getting some Carnation ice cream during our visit, and he gracefully replied that if he did that, he'd get fired because the sponsor was Pure Milk, not Carnation. I think it was from that event that I obtained a promotional postcard touting the "Cartoon Zoo," as it was originally dubbed, when Mr. Zing wore the full-fledged zookeeper's outfit (and pre-Shaggy Dog). It's still buried somewhere in my parents' house. Next time I'm in Tulsa, I'll try to dig it out of my stored artifacts, so I can bring it back, scan it, and send it to you to use if you like.

(from Guestbooks 50 and 161) Jim Reid said:

I have a very prized keepsake from my days at Channel 8.

Mr. Zing & Tuffy, courtesy of Jim Reid Mike Bruchas has written about the file cabinets behind the studios. That was my favorite spot in the whole station, I used to spend hours looking at the great stuff in those cabinets. One day just before I left, I discovered they were doing a major cleanup at the station. I went back to check the room with the file cabinets to find that everything had been tossed. It was a tragedy.

There was a dumpster sitting there with trash from another part of the shop area. Sitting right on top of the trash was John Chick's "Mr. Zing" zookeeper's hat. He didn't wear it much, mainly in the beginning of the show. I have seen a few pictures of him wearing the hat.

I've had visitors at my house who'd grown up in Tulsa, and when I show them the hat, it almost brings tears to their eyes. (Photos courtesy of Jim Reid)

Mr. Zing's hat
                  John Chick's Mr. Zing zookeeper's hat, courtesy of Jim Reid

(from Guestbook 25) Frank Morrow said:

This is not entirely a radio story, but a few memories about Johnny Chick:

Johnny and I were schoolmates from junior high school through college. He was in the class ahead of me. With his bright face, great smile and wonderful wit, he always was so much in evidence wherever he was.

For a Horace Mann Jr. High Christmas pageant Johnny and I shared the singing role of Joseph. Because the pageant was presented twice, there were two different casts of soloists. We all rehearsed together, however. My pre-pubescent tenor voice was high and thin, much outclassed by Johnny's full, mature voice. The girls in the cast loved to listen to Johnny sing. The teacher ("Big Bertha" Cook) should have had Johnny sing for both performances. (By the way, Johnny was a great whistler, too.)

John Chick at KRMGAt Central we not only occasionally were on stage together, we also appeared now and then on our weekly radio program "Experimental Theater of the Air" over KOME on Saturday morning. (I emphasized radio and plays at Central, while Johnny participated more in singing groups as well as plays.) I remember one broadcast where, as the announcer, I was introducing the songs which were being presented from the current Central operetta. During rehearsal, after I had introduced one song, Johnny came up to me and corrected my French. When the program came on, I made the same mistake, and, sure enough, here came Johnny who whispered the correct pronunciation again in my ear. I finally got it right the third time.

When we were both at KRMG in 1956, I was at Johnny's house one night. He and his wife had a baby, and Johnny did something I have never seen anyone do before or since. When he wanted to know if the baby needed changing, he merely inserted his hand down inside the diaper from behind. If his hand came up wet or brown, he knew immediately that a change was in order. Right then and there I knew that he was a braver soul than I.

(from Guestbook 25) Jim Ruddle said:

Sidebar for Chick fans:

In 1966, I was co-anchoring news at WGN-TV, in Chicago, when a woman from the program department told me that the station was auditioning for a staff announcer--a job that opened rarely there--and she wondered whether I knew anybody who might be a good candidate. I immediately suggested John Chick (or Johnny, as those of us who had known him when we were school kids together called him) and pretty much forgot about it.

John Chick as Mr. Zing A couple of weeks later, the lady said the station was bringing Johnny up for an audition. In due course, he arrived, went up against the best talent in Chicago and won the audition with nobody even a close second. Later, we had coffee together in the station cafeteria and he told me he didn't think he would take the job.

Now, I knew that WGN was not overly generous with beginning salaries for a station of that size and revenues, and new staffers would automatically be at the bottom of the totem pole, however, the station was probably the best local producer of children's programs, with Bozo's Circus, the Ray Rayner Show, Dick Tracy, Garfield Goose, and several others, and Johnny seemed to me to be a natural for the place. Obviously, he would shortly be installed as a talent on one of the programs or be given one of his own.

I asked him about his reluctance to take the job, and he explained that he was very happy doing what he was doing in Tulsa, that he genuinely loved doing the show he was doing there, and besides, moving to Chicago would mean a major upheaval in his life and his family. In short, he stiffed WGN and went back to Tulsa and his legendary career there. I'm sure he made the right decision.

The brass at WGN was completely confounded by his action and unable to comprehend that anyone would balk at a chance to work for them. But, then, they didn't understand a lot of things.

(from Guestbook 1) Don Lundy in Bakersfield, CA said:

...Mike Denney was Shaggy Dog for a while. But the suit was also worn by Tom Ledbetter, who directed at KTUL and taught at TU. Wayne Johnson was Tuffy. Mike is still at CBS Television City and directs The Young and the Restless. Has been in Hollywood since 76 or so.

Don Lundy and Mike Denney

We just heard from Mike Denney on his way to the Emmy awards (later note...he won!):

(from Guestbook 7) Mike Denney said:

This is such a great idea ! Tulsa has a rich Television history. My TV career started in August 1966 at KTUL playing drums in a trio on the Betty Boyd show. I spent a little over 8 years Mike Denneythere working my way up through the studio to Director and finally to Production Manager. In January 1975 I moved to LA to accept a position as cameraman at CBS. I spent about 14 years doing camera on a wide variety of CBS shows including the last three seasons of the Carol Burnett show. I also did a lot of sporting events including 4 Super Bowls. I'm currently directing the daytime drama The Young and the Restless. There have been quite a few KTUL alums at CBS, Toby Brown, Bob Welsh, David Finch, and Terry Clark. Bruce Grey was also at KTUL but he wound up at NBC. I produced and directed a short film that was shot in OK and I cast my good friend Carl Bartholomew in a small but important role. I saw Hurst Swiggart's name, it's great to hear he's still around. He mentioned Chuck Bowman's name. I met him at a party some time ago, it was really fun to find out he was from Tulsa. At the time I spoke to him he was directing Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and his son was producing The X-Files. I better stop, I'm leaving for NYC for the daytime Emmys. This is my tenth nomination for directing and so far I won three times. Keep up the good work!

And from Guestbook 32, Mike Denney said:

Date: 16-Jan-00 01:22 PM (on Tulsa Time)
Name: Mike Denney
Email: fairlane@syv.com
Geographical location: Solvang, CA.
Favorite Tulsa TV show or personality: Uncle Zeb, Mazeppa

Just wanted to let everyone know I finally have an e-mail address that works. Hope to hear from some of my old friends from KTUL. I'm still plugging away on "The Young and the Restless," we've just come off a two week Christmas break. Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Mike Denney (upper right), currently multiple Emmy-winning director of "The Young and the Restless", formerly "Mr. Zing and Tuffy" cameraman and Mazeppa show director. (from "Tony Orlando and Dawn", circa 1975, courtesy of Eagle-eye Bruchas).

Mike Denney comments via email: "I sure wish I had still had that much hair."

Tony Randall (in tux) is also from Tulsa. Here is his high school yearbook picture.

Tony Randall and Mike Denney (courtesy of Mike Bruchas)

(from Guestbook 34) Tom Ledbetter (aka Shaggy Dog) said:

A couple of my Tulsa friends have told me about this site, so I came on to read what people were saying about Mr. Zing and Tuffy. I joined the show as Shaggy Dog after the show had been on for about 18 months, and I spent five years with it.

Tom Ledbetter as Shaggy DogI worked with many talented people at Channel 8: Betty Boyd, Boyce Lancaster, Wirt Cain, Don Woods, and many people in the production and engineering staff, including Hurst Swiggart, Ken Kerr, Mike Denney and Tom Tipping.

But John Chick was the most talented person with whom I ever was privileged to work. Our paths crossed a number of times. We were classmates at Central High, and later, after we both spent time in the Air Force during the Korea thing, we were again classmates and theatre majors at TU. In my view he was the most talented and professional member of our acting group. As Mr. Zing, he wrote songs, sang them, played guitar and banjo remarkably, and rode his unicycle. I began to wonder if there were anything he couldn't accomplish.

I remember the time Jim Ruddle wrote about, when John disappeared unexpectedly for a couple of days. Boyce Lancaster told me and Wayne Johnson (Tuffy) that John was in Chicago for an audition. John told us later it was the hardest audition he ever did, but that he won it. We weren’t surprised to hear that. But we were surprised when he told us he’d rather stay where he was. He didn’t want to move to Chicago, and he knew he wouldn’t have as much fun as he was having at Channel 8.

Our Central class is having its 50th reunion this spring, and I, for one, will be wishing John could be with us.

(from Guestbook 3) Deb Walker from Colorado said: Mr. Zing in motion

Like a lot of Tulsa kids, I got to be on the Mr Zing & Tuffy show for my 6th birthday. It was so cool (cause Mr. Zing was pretty cute!), and I got to bring along, like, 5 kids from my class. I wore a yellow sweatshirt that said "I'm the Boss," and when John asked me, the boss of what, I got so tongue tied, I don't remember now if I actually said anything or not!

(from Guestbook 25) Elizabeth Chick said:

I remember Dad doing a live commercial for Cathey's Furniture where he was standing on top of the table, showing its strength and durability. After hopping on it a few times the table broke in 2 and Dad fell to the ground. Stunned but with his wonderful wit managed to save the reputation of himself and the Furniture Store.

Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson at Channel 8 today (photo by Kevin King)
(from Guestbook 1) Mike Bruchas in Alexandria, VA said:

Just to add more about Wayne Johnson aka Tuffy at one time on Mr. Zing & Tuffy. He was a good studio cameraman who became one of the most laid back directors at KTUL - no disaster fazed him.

And now, let's hear from the tiger, er, man himself!

(from Guestbook 7) Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson said:

Favorite Tulsa TV show: Mr. Zing and Tuffy, of course

Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Myself

Stupidest local commercial: The Rib Crib starring Tuffy

I am alive and well, still working at Channel 8 in production. Also, Shaggy Dog (Tom Ledbetter) is alive and well, living the retired life in Canyon City, Colorado.

Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson

Wayne "Homer" Johnson, taken 5/17/99,
courtesy of Kevin King, KTUL

(and from Guestbook 16) Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson added:

I joined KTUL in 1961 as a cameraman and was promoted to director in 1963. I did the "Mr. Zing and Tuffy" show for it's entire 7-year run. I was later promoted to KTUL's production manager. I directed many specials for the station, including half hour programs on the Dallas Cowboys and James Brown. In 1968, I received an award of merit for a half-hour traffic safety film, "Learn to Live", sponsored by the Oklahoma Highway Department. I also worked with the ABC Network on two "Wide World of Sports" programs.

Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson on KTUL's "Good Day Tulsa", 3/22/2007. Tuffy remembers working on the show with John Chick and Tom Ledbetter. Color footage of the show is seen during this interview with D.C. Roberts. DVD courtesy of Jody McIntyre, executive producer. And now, heerrreeee's Tuffy!

(from GroupBlog 263) Jim Hill said:

Our beloved "Tuffy" is gone.

Wayne Johnson died tonight at Southcrest Hospital in Tulsa, where he had been in intensive care for several weeks following surgery for colon cancer. His wife Betty and children were with him.

(from Guestbook 11) Mitch Schauer of L.A. remembered:

"Tuffy's a sweet ol' tiger,
he's as sweet as sweet can beeeeeee...
He love little toys
and loves girls and boys
Tuffy's the tiger for meeeeee."

I remember watching Mr. Zing and Tuffy running around during one of their routines and a small girl wandered out onto the stage. Tuffy accidentally bumped into the zoo cage mock up and the top fell off, hitting the little girl.

They went to cartoon.

Also, Mr. Zing and Shaggy Dog were wrestling around on one show. Finishing the skit and heated up from all that activity under the hot lights, Mr. Zing casually asked, "Boy, it's hot isn't it Shaggy?" I heard a very muffled, "It sure is."

(from Guestbook 71 ) Jon Glazer said:

I celebrated my 4th birthday on the "Mr. Zing and Tuffy Show", and COULDN'T have been happier about it! Free school cafeteria-style cups of ice cream, and, of course, John Chick himself! What could be better?!

About 15 years later, I had the privilege of appearing on "The John Chick Show". Unfortunately, John had already contracted his disease (MS or MD, I believe), and another nice gentleman named Jonathan something was hosting in his place. The FUNNY part was, being an irresponsible 19-year-old musician, I almost FORGOT the booking!

It was after midnight the DAY OF my scheduled appearance; I was playing "PONG" (!) at my friend Mark's (a then-drummer) house with he and bassist Kevin. Suddenly, and thankfully, my memory jarred me, and I exclaimed aloud "Holy **** - I'M `SPOSED TO BE ON JOHN CHICK'S SHOW IN 6 HOURS!!!" With Kevin, Mark and our friend Pat on guitar, (and NO sleep!) we performed JAZZ on the show; I remember "This Masquerade", George Benson style, "Green Dolphin Street", and our weak effort at simulating/satirizing country music, the Stones' "Faraway Eyes". The guys saved my rear at the last minute, and I NEVER forgot the time I ALMOST missed my appearance on the famous "John Chick Show"!

John Chick on location

(from Guestbook 26) Lee Bayley said:

I just saw the picture of John Chick (left) and it reminded me of what a sweet guy he was. I grew up in Springdale, Arkansas and KRMG was marginally listenable to us. I remember hearing John (and Joe Knight, Lynn Higby and others) thinking what a big deal they were (I was 12 and 13). A couple years later..after I had already started doing part-time teen radio I was in Tulsa and went to the KRMG studios in the old ballroom building...and stood in the lobby peering in through the glass. After a few minutes the announcer came out to say hello and invite me in to the studio....I was literally blown away....and I spent over an hour in the control room while the announcer did his show...even explaining to me why he used Kleenex instead of hankies. I will never forget that time because it really had an effect on me and my attitude about how to deal with young people interested in radio....I will always take time for young people. Of course, the KRMG announcer was John Chick. Years later when I went to work for KAKC one of the first things I did was call John..then at Channel 8...and we became good friends. Mr. Zing, I know you are entertaining angels today.John Chick on the last day of his daytime show (courtesy of Jim Reid)

(from Guestbook 5) Hurst Swiggart said:

John Chick was the creator and producer of Zing and Tuffy and wrote such endearing songs as "Don't Ever Leave the Yard without Telling Mother". Truly one of the GREAT talents...Sad that he died so early..he was a really great Soul.

(from Guestbook 24) Betty Boyd said:

Even though John Chick has not physically been with us for many years, I almost never go anywhere that someone doesn't ask about, or comment about, John Chick. Quite a tribute, I think as most of us are put in folks' short-term memory box once we are off the tube. But John will be "forever" I am sure.

Tuffy and Shaggy at the Stilwell Strawberry Festival around 1970, courtesy of Darrell Neale
Tuffy and Shaggy at the Stilwell Strawberry Festival, courtesy of Darrell Neale

"Hello, hello, hello...goodbye, goodbye, goodbye...
we'll see you all tomorrow just as sure as pumpkin pie!

"We love to say hello. We hate to say good-bye.
And so we say hello. When we mean good-bye."

(Mr. Zing and Tuffy's closing theme)

The In Sound From Way Out "The In Sound From Way Out" by French composers/performers Gershon Kingsley and Jean-Jacques Perrey was the electronic music used on "Mr. Zing and Tuffy" and "Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp". Click the album cover to hear RealPlayer samples of the music. The song, "Barnyard in Orbit", is one I particularly remember.

(Also see the Gift Shop for a compilation, "The Essential Kingsley and Perrey" which contains this music, plus another album for the same price.)

And now, this word from our sponsor...

Kids, try this at home! It's Krazy Glue!

On to Uncle Zeb!    Back to main