Channel 3 Clubhouse and West Michigan Children’s TV Programming

I don’t know how much TV I watched as a little kid. It was enough that I still know the schedule of the programs I actually cared about. On weekdays, Bozo the Clown on WZZM–an ABC affiliate, Captain Kangaroo on WMMT (then WKZO), and Channel 3 Clubhouse following it.

Pretty much everyone’s heard of Bozo and Captain Kangaroo. Outside of West Michigan, Channel 3 Clubhouse is unknown.

It lasted from 1955 to 1985. It included a host (Cynthia Kay when I was watching), puppets (Nigel and Lambert the lion), a crowd of local children, games and possibly (I’m not sure of this) cuts to cartoons.

As it happens, Cynthia Kay has since gone on to run her own media production company. The website includes links naming her as one of the most influential women in West Michigan, her business as a top women-owned business in West Michigan, and also as small business of the year (2005).

Oddly enough, one of the places I work for regularly contracts her to create video presentations. On Friday, I dropped by her business to pick up a stack of DVD’s she’d produced.

Though she’s been at various offices that GRACE has owned, I’d never actually talked to her before and thus never mentioned that I’d watched her on TV.

I did this time.

She put her hand on my shoulder and said (exactly as she might have if I’d been five and on the show), “So, what’s your name? How old are you?”

I laughed, and we moved on to talk about things relevant to the task at hand.

I told my wife about it though.

“I’m jealous,” she said. “I always wanted to be on that show.”

So yeah, no matter what honors and success Cynthia Kay achieves she will still be known (to people who spent the 1970’s watching children’s TV in West Michigan) as the host of Channel 3 Clubhouse. I’ve no idea whether this amuses or disturbs her. Perhaps I should have asked.

P. S. Oh, and should Cynthia Kay google herself and read this entry, I have a question for her. My wife wants to know what happened to the puppets after Channel 3 Clubhouse was canceled. Do you have any idea?

67 thoughts on “Channel 3 Clubhouse and West Michigan Children’s TV Programming”

  1. Hi Jim,
    I found your blog tonite while doing a search on the channel 3 clubhouse, guess what, I was on that show when I was young, dang I msut of been about 5 because I was there with my brownie troup. I am trying to find out if there is anyone who saved the tapes of the show, do you know where I could start my search? Any help sure would be appreciated. When I get asked if I’ve ever been on TV I say oh yes, on the Channel 3 clubhouse and people look at me like Im nuts or something, sure would be nice to prove it ;-)

  2. I don’t know where you’d find old video of Channel 3 Clubhouse. It doesn’t seem to exist online. My best suggestion is calling Channel 3 in Kalamazoo and asking. Stations often keep that sort of thing.

  3. Hello

    Looking to buy a copy of a Channel three Clubhouse my daughters school did in the 70’s. I’m a Cancer patient ( it is agreesseve but stableised ). I thought it would be a nice gift for my daughter.
    Can you help me? I dont have a computer at home, at the moment ( I have use of a computer though, throughout the week at a Clubhouse for those with Mental Disabilitys, I also have a slight Mentaly disabilty.

    Sincerly,
    Kathleen Kiessling

  4. Hey Jim,
    I am another member of the Channel 3 Clubhouse Alumni. My television debut was part of my seventh birthday gift from my folks. This would have been during the Fran Harding years – back when cartoons were drawn instead of programed (!). I remember getting red licorice and Necco wafers. I tuned in religiously. There should be a reunion or a website or something.

    Thanks for the ride down Memory Lane.

  5. I was also on the show, must have been around 84 or even 85. I have the VHS copy of the episode I was on, but I E-mailed channel 3 once when I thought I had lost it, and they do not have old footage is what I was told.

  6. I was on this show! Back in the 70s, I remember my mom drivng us there. I have my certifiate for “graduating”
    Michele

  7. Wow. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who remembered this stuff. I remember watching the Club House, too! The next show after it (Accent) began my mom’s turn at the TV. I too spent the 70’s watching Channel three club house, Bozo (incidentally, I am now a professional Clown) and of course, Captain kangaroo.
    BTW,I am from Coldwater, MI.
    Cheers,
    Scruffy the clown

  8. I was also on the show I think once or twice. For my and my brother’s birthday. It was in the late sixties. I was around five. I also checked on tapes and was told they don’t have them. I remember some of it but not alot. I remember watching myself when I got home. It’s funny I was feeling very nostalgic and looked up Romper Room also.

    Tracy Walling Oberlin

  9. Answer to Al from July 1, 2008 question: yes, Beanie Brown was the host in mid-late 50’s, I was on teh show. Vaguely remember a balloon guy, unsure of name.
    Brad

  10. Yes I was on the show in 1957 when Bennie Brown was the host. They showed
    Our Gang films at that time.

  11. LOL…my five minutes of fame also took place on Channel 3 Clubhouse. I was on for my 5th birthday, with all of my friends…and anyone who was on the show definitely remembers the GIANT slopokes everyone got when they left…it was like bait to keep the kids inline on the air. Unfortunately, they ran out before I got to the front of the line and even though I was the birthday girl, they tried to make up for it by giving me several small slopokes..NOT a chance! It’s amazing that I went on to work in communications after this little trauma! Thanks for sharing a memorable part of my childhood!

    ~Kelli Postema

  12. Repsonse from my commincation trying to get a copy of the airing from my own childhood.
    Cindi– Thank you for your inquiry about Channel 3 Clubhouse.There is no tape library for this program. VHS tapes weren’t patented until 1984. We do get many requests, and we’re sorry there are no records of this program. Sincerely,Susan Abraham, Program CoordinatorNEWSCHANNEL 3/CW7

  13. My dad made cushions that were on the benches that the kids sat on and I still never got to be on the show! I wanted to be on it so bad and to this day (I’m almost 41 now!) I’m still upset about not being on there! I loved that show!

  14. Thanks for the reminder of this show, Jim! I have a vague memory of going on the show with my older brother when I was ~4. I have a better memory of the giant Slopoke sucker, though.

  15. I was on that show myself. I am glad I am not the only one trying to get a copy of the show. I was on in 1982. The funny thing was that when the show aired my Mom let us skip school to watch it. Come to find out the school put a TV in the lunch room so the whole school could watch it that day. I was on top of the world the next day back.

    Thanks for the great memory flash,

  16. Hi folks, I don’t know if he was on the channel 3 clubhouse or had his own show but my sons loved Buck Berry also and when he made an appearance in Kalamazoo I took them there to meet him…..BOY!!! talk about excited kids – the boys got autographed pictures that day. Does anyone know anything about him?? Thanks for the memories…..

  17. wow!!! I can’t believe anyone else out there remembers channel 3 clubhouse. I too was on the show maaannny years ago. Too bad about there not being any old copies of the show, that would be a real treat!!

  18. I, too, am looking for episodes from the past. But I’m looking for, well, from April 1966. I was on for my 5th birthday. I was just thinking about it the other day and how funny it would be to find a copy. I hope someone is able to find some.

  19. Hi was ALSO on Channel 3 Clubhouse. I’m sorry to hear that Channel 3 no longer has the footage of that show. I got to sit right in the front row. I’d love to get a copy for myself, to show my kids. Cynthia Kay was my hero when I was a little girl. I used to watch the show everyday and set up my dolls as children and interview them right along with her. I would knock on a piece of wood on my grandma’s coffee table and pretend I was knocking for the puppets. Great memories!

  20. I used to watch all of the old kids shows on Channels 8 and 3 back in the mid and late 50’s. Of course I remember Beanie Brown from Channel 3 Clubhouse. He was a pencil cartoonist of sorts. He’d have a kid make a squiggle on a large piece of paper and then he’d create a cartoon figure from it. As for Buck Barry and the Buckaroo Rodeo, he was on WOOD-TV on Saturday mornings with his horse Thunder. In the opening, they ran a tape of him riding into the station parking lot on his horse! That show featured the Be-Mo Pepsi Auction where you could get prizes for “points” from Be-Mo potato chips and Pepsi Cola purchases. Those shows were kind of hokey, but lots of fun!

  21. was on the show as a young man in 5th grade and was hoping to find episode but sounds like not going to happen.

  22. I was on the show for my birthday back in the late 50’s.Beanie Brown was the host.They had a wall with different size drawers that each birthday kid got to open one for the prize inside.Naturally I picked the largest one.All I got was a Duncan Yoyo.LOL

  23. I remember watching Channel 3 Clubhouse every morning. My favorite part was the cartoons – Casper the Friendly Ghost was my favorite but it seems as if it was not every day…maybe it rotated with others – Heckel & Jeckyl? I watched in the late 70’s. Never got to be on though :(

  24. The day I was on they had a guy from the nature center, who brought a raccoon. I think he came on the show weekly. That would have been in the late 60’s. A very exciting experience for a 5 year old. There is a Channel 3 clubhouse site on FB but not many members so far. Maybe folks can join, and get some pictures going if they have any.

  25. Yay, Channel 3 Clubhouse! What a great thing to recall…

    I was on in the late 70s, and I know the puppets at that time were done by a man named Don Bonovitch — he played Salieri in the Kalamazoo Civic Players production of AMADEUS back in ’83 or so, not sure if he’s still around, but I’m sure he’d know what happened to the puppets.

    I have no idea why or how I remember this, but I do :)

  26. I made my debut on Channel 3 clubhouse!!!! My sister and I were on it together. Wow-what memories. Wish there was footage to watch.

  27. I was on Channel 3 clubhouse in the mid 70’s. What fun! I am thinking that a bunch of the kids from my neighborhood were all on at the same time. I don’t remember much about it, except for waiting to go on and my Mom telling me it looked like I was going to eat the mic!

  28. What a trip!! I’ve lived as an expat for 37 years, but did watch during the late fifties and early sixties…and remember Beanie Brown! Was on the show once for someone’s birthday. Mine? I remember getting a yo-yo, from a wall of drawers, so I must have been in about the third grade, during the yo-yo craze. Anyone remember channel 8 (Grand Rapids)? My little sisters loved Miss Jean and her magic mirror! This really hit a chord, since I almost never post comments like this.

  29. I too was on Channel 3 Clubhouse. I feel lucky, my mother has/is an employee of WWMT and she passed some information on; Channel 3 back when Clubhouse appeared was owned by Fetzer. You can try to contact Fetzer Center on WMU’s campus and they should have old archives of tapes etc. on hand there. Since everything was Fetzer’s they are the ones with any/all information. Unfortunately WWMT has been bought out several times and that information was not theirs.

  30. Hay all,
    I remember my Baby sitter taking me, my sister and all her Kids over to be on the Channel 3 Clubhouse around 1975 or so. Just as the cameras came on our baby sitter’s son, got up off the colored blocks we were supposed to sit on, boldly walked over and tugged on the hosts jacket saying “When are you gonna come over and talk to us?” in almost a huff because he thought he thought she had spent enough time with the kids on the other side.

    Boy do I ever wish I could find that video to show my kids now.

  31. Yes, Don Bonovitch did the puppets on C3C. He was an actor and also did a puppet show every Saturday at the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck. I was in “The King and I” with him…he was the king. They would do a show with lots of kids from the area every summer. They also had a theatre class every summer which gave those of us who attended that a leg-up on the rest of the locals. I’d love to know if he is still around…I have a wonderful memory of opening night of that show where he ad-libbed something wonderful that I’d love to remind him of.

  32. Though never on C3C, I was on Buck Berry’s Buckaroo Rodeo once. Heck, I actually was the winner of the Schwinn Stingray one year for earning the most money for MD by hosting a carnival. A great story and a treasured picture (my folks were photo-journalists when I was a kid and my childhood is well recorded).

    Since they worked freelance for all the TV stations, I often walked thru the sets in the back of the stations with my folks when they were delivering film at all hours of the night.

    Bozo in real life was a well-known personality at the station but he was supposed to keep his real identity a secret. After my youngest child was born 25 years ago, I took my wife’s clothes and stuff out to the car in the lot at Butterworth hospital to get ready to leave. Parked right next to me, getting stuff out of his trunk, was Bozo. I just turned and said “Hi XXXX” and went back for more stuff. His jaw hit the floor! LOL!!!

  33. I was on Bozo once, and in the process of exploring the station (I was trying to find the bathroom), I managed to walk into his dressing room.

    He was in the middle of the “person to Bozo” transformation. All the clothes were on, but the make-up was only halfway there.

    It was an awkward moment for my 9 year old self, and I closed the door quickly.

  34. I too was on Clubhouse. I remember I only got to go on because my mom was a Girl Schout Leader for my older sister. I cried and cried until she let me go too. I was only 4. I so wish that we had a tape of that. It was in 74 I believe.

  35. Wow, how many of us have great memories of Channel 3 Clubhouse. I remember both hostesses, and was on the show several times, as it seemed to be the thing to do for birthday parties in the early to mid 1970’s. I didn’t remember the Slo-Pokes until I read about them here!

    Bob’s comment made me laugh, because I too got up and followed the hostess around. Years later my mom told me they asked her to never bring me back to the show!

  36. I was interviewed on the show when I was around four or five…they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied that I wanted to be one of the guys who drove front-end loaders and other construction equipment.

  37. I do belive the John Fetzer museum on Westerns campus has all the old Clubhouse shows on tape .

  38. I was on the channel 3 club house show when i was in second grade.
    I went there with my cub scout pack !!!

  39. i was on the Channel 3 clubhouse too around 1982 83…..i used to love the show!! i remember waking up and seeing myself on TV i was so excited!!

  40. My Mom and Aunt (and her horse Boots) were on Club house
    Later on my sister and I were there in the late 70 early 80’s.
    I always wanted to be on Bozo… I wanted to throw balls in the bucket!!!!

  41. WOW. This brings back memories. I too was on the show. I know it was in the misd 70’s. It would be great have a copy of that show to show my kids. I know they would get a nice laugh out of it.

  42. Beanie Brown was on TV and also my neighbor, I was friends with his daughter. It was surreal for a 6 year old the reality and fantasy. He was on TV in the 60’s, I was born in 57 and was on the show with my girl scout troop and Beanie Brown was the host. I believe he also played the drums. He wasn’t around the house much when I was there. Those were the days when everyone had a stay at home mom and kids ran free throughout the neighorhood exploring. Bean Browns real last name was linderman.

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