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

Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog, courtesy of David Bagsby

Big Bill & Oom-A-Gog
Captain Alan & Oom-A-Gog
Kitty Clover Junior Auction

Bill Blair on the left Webmaster: "Big Bill" Blair hosted this kiddie show on KVOO, Channel 2 from 1959 through 1964. Periodically during the show, a steel door rolled up and Oom-A-Gog came lumbering out, the lights that were his eyes flashing. The show featured cartoons and a live kiddie audience.

I was a member of the audience on October 20, 1960 (my little brother's birthday). It was exciting to be inside an actual television station. When the camera panned across us, I lurched forward so I could see myself move on the monitor.

New! (from GroupBlog 222 and 10/3/2006 email) Sharon Berry told us about the creation of Oom-A-Gog, Mark I:

Sharon and Jerry Berry with Oom-A-GogMy daddy, Jerry Berry, made Oom-A-Gog when I was 2 or 3 years old. It was on a TV cartoon show called Dr. N. Ventor here in Kansas City, Mo.

I was scared half to death of Oom-A-Gog! I am so glad to see that he went on and lived a full life on another children's show after my dad passed away in 1956. He made him for the children, he always said.

I still have the TV schedule of different TV stations and dates and times that Oom-A-Gog was to appear. I remember one of his appearances being at a Milgram's food store. Oom-A-Gog is also mentioned in a book about kids' shows.

My dad would be so happy to know so many children got enjoyment out of him. Thank you so much for putting him on your web site. I finally know what happened to our beloved robot!

This is my father, Jerry Berry. He was an inventor and worked for an awning company on the side. A man fell off the roof one day and my father caught his fall. He saved the man's life but the ladder fell on his leg and it turned into cancer of the bone. I can not remember if he made Oom-A-Gog with just the one leg or if he made him before his leg was amputated but I think he made him on one leg. He was amazing.

Inventor Jerry Berry with his creation, Oom-A-Gog This was taken at my grandmother's house. That's me in the background with the scared face and that is my father. Oom-A-Gog was a bit more sophisticated-looking but it's my understanding that after daddy passed away, the station up here was already changing his head. It looks like they tried to update him and moved some things around on his chest and added some things. But this is the original way he looked.I know he was hard to move around in with the legs and arms the way they were.

I know he made him in a tiny workshop in back of the house that was so small only 2 or 3 people could even stand in there at one time. Daddy was doing the beginnings of what Tulsa was able to do with Oom-A-Gog before he when he passed away. Oom-A-Gog was making appearances all over and I believe the picture of Oom-A-Gog on a TWA airplane was taken in Tulsa where he was a mystery guest on the Bowlin' with Molin show. I think I read that on a site somewhere but not positive but if true, how ironic that he came back to live in your town of Tulsa to live. The picture is also displayed at the Kansas City Museum.

I would love for you to post this picture of my father with Oom-A-Gog. It would mean so much to me as he got very little recognition for it because he died at age 29 in 1956 not long after he made him, leaving a crippled wife and 3 small girls. I am the baby. I didn't get to know Oom-A-Gog on TV first like most kids did. Sharon Berry todayHe just came walking into my house and I was sooo scared every time after that when I heard they were getting Oom-A-Gog out. I would love to talk to Billy James Hargis II and thank him so much for "adopting" our Oom-A-Gog. (see linked article below...webmaster)

Daddy had an offer for Oom-A-Gog to sell cigarettes and he said NO. That he had made him for the children. Tulsa, Oklahoma gave Oom-A-Gog the exact life my father intended for him to have and I just can't tell you how much that means to me. I wish my mother was still alive so I could share this with her.

Kansas City Times article circa 1956 about inventor Jerry Berry and family (389K)

Facts and speculations about Oom-A-Gog's early days:

Hi There, Boys and Girls: America's Local Children's TV ProgramsThe book Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs by Tim Hollis briefly recaps Oom-A-Gog's career at KVOO.

In the section about early kids' programming on WDAF in Kansas City, Hollis mentions Dr. N. Ventor, the show where Oom-A-Gog debuted, according to Sharon Berry. The good doctor (played by Murray Nolte) "with the help of his 'Idea Box' would try to work out the bugs in some low-tech device...at the end of each program, his invention would totally backfire on him, to the kids' delight."

The book also states that "in 1961, Nolte wrapped himself in an enormous robot costume to become 'Sergeant Sam,' introducing the outer-space 'Colonel Bleep' cartoons," and "...nothing about the character moved except his arms and legs..." Could Sergeant Sam have been the original model of Oom-A-Gog? Tulsa's Oom-A-Gog appears to have somewhat different proportions from the model built by Jerry Berry.

According to Big Bill Blair in John Wooley's 1989 interview, the Col. Bleep package purchased in 1959 by KVOO (from whom, we don't know, possibly WDAF) included Oom-A-Gog.

New! 2/6/2010: Dr. N. Ventor mentioned Oom-A-Gog in this vintage WDAF clip. Sharon Berry (Mundy): "My husband was going through some old tapes he had, and on one of them, they are talking about things that happened in the Kansas City area in the 50s. There is a short clip of Dr. N. Ventor talking to Oom-A-Gog after he had apparently walked out the door. This clip could have been before my father died or after. Sure brought back a lot of memories for me even though I was just 3 or 4 at the time."

WDAF's online history notes that the station was sold in late May 1958, a year before the debut of Oom-A-Gog in Tulsa, Could the Oom-A-Gog suit (or a clone) have been passed along to Tulsa as fallout from the management change? WDAF again changed owners in 1960, a year before the debut of "Sergeant Sam".

There may have been a connection between KVOO and WDAF due to both being NBC affiliates in the 50s and 60s (and beyond). Like WDAF, KVOO had a version of the regional Kitty Clover "Junior Auction"(more below).

Also notable is the fact that Hollis considers WDAF to have "one of the most distinguished legacies of children's programming of any TV market in the country," which probably made them a go-to source for ideas at that time...webmaster

Shopper's Fair at 21st & Sheridan (from Guestbook 69) Joe Cunningham said:

I remember seeing Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog at Shoppers Fair in about 1960. What a thrill to see "stars" in person!

Shopper's Fair was a proto-Kmart in the center of the shopping center at the SW corner of 21st and Sheridan, still home to Casa Bonita.

To see a Shopper's Fair store, scroll down
a bit at this site: Discount Stores of the '60s.

Catty-cornered from it was Gulf-Mart (now
DirecTV; scroll about 1/3 down the page).

(from Guestbook 151) Rogan said:

"Big Bill & OomAhGog"? I always thought it was like "oom uh gah", but I was a kid then.

I remember that mispronunciation, too. I'll bet it came from a mix-up with the nearby town of Oologah, Will Rogers' birthplace.

(from Guestbook 106) Mitch Schauer (creator of "Angry Beavers") said:

My first job following high school was as an artist for Graphic Associates located at the corner of 3rd and Cheyenne. I had the pleasure of working next to a fine illustrator, Ben Brown. Ben and I became good friends.

One day, Ben informed me he had been previously employed as an artist for KVOO-TV.

Naturally, I was quite impressed, but when he told me he had been the artist behind Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog's Magic Window, I was thrilled!

The Big Bill set had a picture frame on the wall with a blank piece of paper mounted inside. Each week, Ben would stand behind the Big Bill set and draw on the newsprint with a black marker. When the marker's ink bled through the paper, Ben's drawings "magically" appeared. I felt honored to become friends with someone so talented and who had worked on one of my favorite kiddie shows.

(from Guestbook 96) Gailard Sartain asked:

Rodney - are you related to Brummett Echohawk? He was a wonderful artist.

Brummett Echohawk(from Guestbook 96) Rodney Echohawk replied:

Mr. M. Pompazoidi, Indeed, yes, I am related to Brummett Echohawk. He and my father were cousins but apparently always called one another brother. So I grew up knowing him as my Uncle Brummett. He was a regular on the Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog show making kids' doodles into recognizable pictures. I believe he helped start the American Indian Theater Company and has acted in films, such as "Oklahoma Passage" where he played a Cherokee leader. By the way Mr. Pompazoidi, your original brand of humor and countless Saturday nights of fun have made me unfit for human company. Thanks!

Brummett Echohawk passed away 2/13/2006 at age 83. He was a Pawnee Indian. He received three Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts for his actions in WWII. He studied at TU. He was noted for the syndicated comic strip "Little Chief", which ran in the Tulsa World for many years. His paintings have hung in museums around the world. He also acted in television, most recently, "Walker, Texas Ranger".

Lionel, Lee, Ben and Big Bill, courtesy of Bill Hyden
1962 Tulsa TV schedule

Read more about Captain Ben and Lee & Lionel.


The middle man is Big Bill Blair, minus his trademark horn-rim glasses. (Courtesy of the KJRH archives)

(via email, 4/18 & 4/26/2002) Bill McCright said:

The man on the left is Don Mitchell of Locke Advertising (later Advertising Inc.).
The man on the right is Fillmore Bowen, Advertising Director for OTASCO.

Another brain-flash in the middle of the night makes me think the name of the horse puppet was "Horse Radish."

(from Guestbook 151) Rick Brashear said:

...there is a dog puppet holding a card that says, "OTASCO". The puppet's name was Parcel Post.

Oom-A-Gog with Billy Hargis and sonOom-A-Gog Lives! Evangelist's Son Finds His Youth in TV Robot  by John Wooley, 2/21/93

Billy Hargis said in his Oklahoma Memories interview (watch it on RealVideo at the link):

"Not only did I love Oom-A-Gog, I also loved Big Bill because I had a pair of pants that had rope down the side, and those were my Big Bill pants. They were lime green with a rope down the side. I thought I was so cool.

"I'd have my mother drop me of at the bottom of the hill, and I'd run up the hill in my P.F. Flyers to watch Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog."

Childhood Friends Forever: Big Bill & Oom-A-Gog  by John Wooley, 1/29/89

(from Guestbook 51) Joe Robertson said:

It was either in '65 or '66 when I was 5 years old, that I hit the pinnacle of my TV career. Channel 2 had a daily contest to draw their famous robot "OOM-A-GOG", and my drawing was selected, and I got to see it hit "air". Not bad for a kid from way up in Osage County. Ironically, I have been the morning show audio man at 2 for the past six years now.

(from Guestbook 51) B. J. Dildine said:

I, too, possess a hand that shook the hand of Oom-a-gog. I will never forget it. I was in 1st grade in 1961. I was a celebrity in our small town classroom.

(from Guestbook 106) Billy Williams said:

When I was REAL young, I appeared on the Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog Show - I won a case of Coke when I said it was my birthday. I lied. Boy! Some peoples' kids!

(from Guestbook 153) Karl Mindeman said:

One of my fondest childhood memories was getting to be in the studio audience of Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog with my friends on my birthday. I even remember Big Bill referring to me as 'a regular' on one of the shows - a true brush with greatness!

(from Guestbook 148) Grama of Locust Grove said:

Thank You!!! For years I've tried to find someone who remembered the Big Bill and Oom-a-Gog show. I've yet to find anyone. I was beginning to think that it only existed in my mind and here it is for all to see!

(from Guestbook 11) Bill Groves said:

Regarding "Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog," I was never on that show, but I did have my first "schoolyard" crush on Bill Blair's daughter in kindergarten and first grade.

(from Guestbook 111) Joe Welling said:

In reviewing old Guestbooks, I saw the references and stories about Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog. You never know how much impact various characters have on little kids' lives.

In the mid-sixties, one of the TV or radio stations sponsored a Halloween costume contest. It was held on the parking lot at Oertle's at 27th and Memorial. The prize was a bicycle.

Since my son's birthday was in October and he wasn't thrilled with what he got that year, I decided to make a costume and enter him in the contest to go for the big prize. He was about 6 or 7 years old.

I got some silver illustration board and taped it into a big cylinder, cut a hole in the "chest" so he could see out, fashioned a sort of head for the top and drew buttons and gauges on the thing. It was kind of a robot cum spaceman suit but not necessarily modeled after Oom-A-Gog. But when we showed up at Oertle's and he got out of the car and put the suit on, you'd have thought it was Elvis and the Beatles all rolled into one. The kids came from everywhere, yelling "It's Oom-A-Gog!" They swamped him.

The poor kid was knocked down and scared to death. An impromptu security force of sympathetic dads surrounded him to get him to the judging stage. Fortunately, he stuck it out and we won the new bike. It was his first glimpse of celebrity stardom and idol worship. (He got more of it as a young adult on the road playing rock and roll shows.)

(from Guestbooks 34 & 88) The webmaster said:

"Junior Auction" was sponsored by Kitty Clover Potato Chips and hosted on Saturday mornings by "Big Bill" Blair. Kids would save up coupons from Kitty Clover potato chip bags and use them to bid on prizes.

Justin Wilson (the Cajun chef) was seen on regional commercials in the 60s for Kitty Clover Potato Chips using his "I guar-on-tee" line.

Question: was Brewster's Toys a feature of the Big Bill show? I remember Mr. Brewster presenting new toys on TV in the 60s. Brewster's Clothes & Toys (later Brewster's Children's Dept. Store) at 1003 S. Peoria was a popular place among my set.

(from Guestbook 16) Jim Back said:

Kitty Clover Ah, Kitty Clover Potato Chips. As a child growing up in Kansas City, I remember a kid's auction show on one of the TV stations there sponsored by Kitty Clover. I stored my empty potato chip sacks in our basement, trying to accumulate enough to get on the show and buy something someday. One evening when my mom was in the basement doing laundry she saw a mouse scurrying around in my stack of sacks. That was the end of my sacks, the end of my big chance to be on TV, and the end of my dream of getting a free bicycle!

Re this photo (click for a full-size version), Alan Lambert said via email. 10/1/2002:

This was supplied to me by KRMG's Joe Riddle. Joe had the picture framed and during Captain Alan and Oom-A-Gog days on Channel 2, he had it on the wall of his bedroom. Further irony here... Joe was a member of our KVOO Explorer Scout Post that was handled for us by then KVOO reporter, Neal Kennedy. Those were the days!

Captain Alan and Oom-A-Gog

(from Guestbook 14) Alan Lambert said:

As I recall it.. Big Bill and OOM-A-GOG was on the air in the late 1950's and early 1960's. When I began working at Channel 2 (KVOO-TV in those days) OOM was played by camera crew chief, Dick Cardwell. After Big Bill left for Texas...OOM had a new sidekick named "Professor Dingle" (played by Dave Moore, I last heard he was working for a station in Kansas City).

After a few years of gathering dust... OOM-A-GOG was brought out of storage for a new show: Captain Alan and OOM-A-GOG (1966-1967). I was Captain Alan (I'm not making this up). The show aired each weekday afternoon at 3:30. We did the show live Monday through Wednesday. We videotaped Thursday and Friday shows on Wednesday nights (this complimented my work schedule as part of the TV announcer's staff. Yes, all Tulsa stations had a live announcers staff into the late 60's.)

We also pre-taped a kiddie movie show that aired on Saturday mornings at 9:30. We did a bunch of appearances around town for Sears (This included helping open the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center on the Southeast corner of 51st and South Harvard and a Santa helicopter fly-in at Sears parking lot at 21st and Yale.)

OOM-A-GOG, The robot, was played at that time by Buck Clayton. (Buck was a part of the Channel 2 floor crew and I heard he later joined Greyhound Corporation.) I wore an orange flight suit similar to the ones the astronauts wore with black flight boots. Spiffy!

Alan Lambert in 1965 The set for "Captain Alan and OOM-A-GOG" was designed by Jerry Winn. It was made to look like the inside of a spaceship. Jerry also designed some of the the most honored floats for KRMG's Great Raft Race. One of those was a GREAT replica of the Star Trek spaceship.. The Enterprise. The last I heard, Jerry and his wife Priscilla work for Pepsi designing large graphic creations. He is truly gifted. (webmaster: Jerry Winn passed away on 11/12/2000, we were told by his son Pat)

I have been interviewed by Channel Two's Jack Frank and will eventually be a part of his series on OOM-A-GOG , currently under development for his Wednesday night "Oklahoma Memories".

It was all positive being Captain Alan...welll mostly. There was the time I was trying on some great new casual summer shorts at a local department store. I turned to check how they looked in the mirror only to discover I had drawn a small crowd of smiling little faces, all yelling "He's Captain Alan, he's Captain Alan!" I did the correct marketing thing: paid for the shorts, went to my car for some publicity pictures, signed a few autographs and left my shopping trip a bit early. Those were the days at TV-2.

(from Guestbook 167) The webmaster said:

At the recent KVOO 50th anniversary reunion, "Captain" Alan Lambert told the following story to a small group, including Buck Clayton:

Buck manned the unwieldy Oom-A-Gog suit in 1966-67; an electronic device distorted his voice into a robotic monotone.

One day on the show, Captain Alan was busy with the kids when, behind him, he heard Oom-A-Gog say, "Captain Alan..." Alan replied, "Just a second, Oom-A-Gog."

A few moments later, Oom-A-Gog again said "Captain Alan..." (in the same monotone). Still preoccupied, Alan said, "Hang on for a minute, Oom-A-Gog."

Soon, Oom-A-Gog was again heard to say "Captain Alan..." This time, Alan turned around and saw smoke issuing from the robot. The electronic voice module had shorted and set Buck's shirt on fire inside the costume!

Captain Alan and a crewhand had to put Oom-A-Gog face down on the studio floor to open up the robot suit---it was impossible for Buck to get out of it by himself. He was successfully extracted and sustained no serious injury.

Buck had forgotten this story until Captain Alan recounted it last Saturday. He recalled that he had replaced Oom-A-Gog's original jointed arms with the flexi-tube you see in the picture above. He was the last Oom-A-Gog.

(via email, 4/26/2005) Alan Lambert said:

A very small correction was passed on to me by Oom-A-Gog (Buck Clayton) during the fairly recent Channel 2 Reunion.

I had told you, Mike, that we were on the air from 1966 to 1967...Buck reminded me that we still maintained a show on Saturdays through 1969. I really had forgotten that when our weekday show went away, we continued to host the Saturday Morning Movie for another year and half.

(from Guestbook 69) Bill Hyden said:

I was really sorry to learn of the death of Bill Blair...whom I knew as a friend during his days on Channel 2 (then KVOO-TV).

I copied (the following from the) El Paso Times and paste it here in its entirety:

Billy Duane Blair, a former radio announcer, television weather forecaster and television personality in El Paso and Tulsa, Okla., died Thursday (Jan. 11, 2001). He was 66 and had lived in El Paso for more than 30 years.

Survivors include his wife, Nan; his daughters, Beth Leffler and Michelle Snider; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother, Melvin P. Blair, Jr.

(from Guestbook 69) Mike Miller said:

I worked with Bill Blair at KVOO-TV in the early ‘60s and have only fond memories. Bill seemed always in a good mood and was one of those naturally funny people who kept everyone loose.

During that period, I anchored my first television newscasts and Bill usually did the weather. In that role he really helped me make the transition from radio to TV.

Bill often broke up the floor crew with his quips. I’ll never forget one exchange when I asked him what part of Oklahoma received the most snow overnight. “Maude got seven inches last night,” Bill deadpanned. The studio burst out laughing and I finished the newscast only with great difficulty.

Bill BlairBill Blair will be greatly missed by his many fans, and by those of us who were lucky to have worked with him.

(from Guestbook 69) Lowell Burch said:

I hate to hear about Bill Blair. I did not know him but I sat in his audience more than once and loved his show. I thought he was talented on air and good with the kids in person. I was quite excited when, on his program, he read the letter that I sent him.

As a ten year old kid, I used to wear an ascot because Big Bill did. I even tried to copy his autograph style when I wrote my name on my homework.

This fan is getting just a little misty so I'll sign off. Thanks for all the fun, Bill. You'll be remembered.

(from GroupBlog 272, 8/8/08) The webmaster said:

Nice article today by Ron Enderland over at IRememberJFK.com: Robots on TV. Our good friend Oom-A-Gog is mentioned.

Ron manages to write something interesting every day. I caught a mention of IRJFK on CBS' Saturday Early Show back on 2/17/2007. Ron grew up in Miami, Oklahoma.

In honor of today's article, I present the Tulsa TV Robots. Two of the sets are courtesy of Chris Sloan. The other one is a souvenir of Missouri's Fantastic Caverns in 1967.

TTM robots
The Tulsa TV Robots in the TTM Control Room

Oklahoma Tire and Supply (OTASCO) logo from 1951
Oklahoma Tire and Supply (OTASCO), courtesy of Lee Thomas Reeder

OTASCO Christmas jingle Here is the OTASCO Christmas jingle,
courtesy of Joe Riddle and Wayne McCombs!

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