Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sunday Nights in the 70s

Saturday morning I read a great blog post by Motherhood & Muffin Tops that mentioned Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Do you remember that show?

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom logo

It was a safari type animal show with an old guy, Marlin Perkins, who always seemed to be in the studio office while his younger side kick was always on the scene in the bush somewhere right in the path of an angry hungry hippo, tiger, lion or bear.

Wild Kingdom’s Marlin Perkins in the studio with an animal

I remember the narrator’s soft, calming voice describing the beauty of the serene gazelle.

This is the part where I hid my eyes because anyone who watched Wild Kingdom knew that the calmer the narrator’s voice 
and the more beautiful the description of the serene animal, 
the closer they were to a brutal end.

There was always some tiger hiding behind a bush that would 
pounce suddenly and drag the gazelle off to munch on.

I talked about this with Monte and we had the same memories of the show so he decided to bring up a You Tube video to share the fun and death that was Wild Kingdom with Ellie.

It was a clip from an episode where Marlin Perkins was in the studio (shocker) with a monkey that was chained BY THE NECK to his office desk.

I’m not even joking. 

Big chain.

Metal collar.

Hooked to desk.

The monkey was not even 3 feet tall so no King Kong threat was apparent.

Ellie was appalled and she might have left the room at that point.

Marlin started feeding the monkey something berry-like.

The monkey just shoved and shoved and shoved and shoved those berries into his mouth until his cheeks were ENORMOUS!

I guess they stored the berries in their cheeks for later meals.

The cheek capacity of this monkey was impressive.

I wanted to raise my hand and ask Marlin what kept another monkey, 
maybe a little down on his luck in the berry finding department, 
from walking up to an obviously filled-to-capacity-cheeked monkey 
and just taking both little monkey fists and popping those huge cheeks balloon-style 
thus shooting a few of those berries into his own mouth?

But Wild Kingdom was not an interactive show or much for 
staying away from the gray areas of animal cruelty.

I have to admit that, for the most part, I thought the show was BORING
(I don’t recall seeing the cheeky monkey episode back in the 70s).

The narrator’s calm tone of voice was like a monotone lullaby to me.

I was really only watching the show as the opening act to The Wonderful World of Disney. 

And to keep my dad from switching the channel to 60 minutes 
which was like brutal torture to a kid.

I’d get so excited when I’d see Tinker Bell flying over Cinderella’s Castle with my wet clean hair fresh from a bath and a bowl of something in front of me--sometimes ice cream, sometimes popcorn and sometimes sliced apples, mini marshmallows and bits of chocolate Hershey bar broken up into small pieces (seriously, like the best snack when I was little. Of course, I traded my chocolate pieces away for more marshmallows.)

The Wonderful World of Disney logo with Tinker Bell and Cinderella’s Castle

I remember watching all kinds of great movies on The Wonderful World of Disney.

Ichabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow (scared me half to DEATH when I was younger).

Ichabod Crane with the headless horseman

The Strongest Man in the World with Kurt Russell.

Disney’s The Strongest Man in the World movie poster with Kurt Russell

Remember the cereal he ate to make him strong? 

We just found this on Apple TV and made the girls watch it with us. They weren’t super impressed. Monte and I still liked it.

And of course classics like The Apple Dumpling Gang with Tim Conway and Don Knotts.

Disney’s The Apple Dumpling Gang movie poster

The girls hated that too,

“Nothing happens!”

Sorry the bad guys carry guns they never use 
and no one gets thrown into a vat of nuclear waste 
turning them into a super villain 
or hero 
or troll.

But I digress.

Sunday nights in the 70s was magical.

It was family TV viewing time. We could all be together without fear of language or gore (other than the gazelle being munched on).

I miss that.

There just aren’t enough shows like that now. 


Are there ANY shows like that??

If you know of any, let me know.


  1. Our family night was Saturday night watching my mom's favorite Lawrence Welk... we would be sitting there with wet hair and our snacks also - but it was a bit earlier than the 70's. But, I do remember those nights well. We mainly watch the Disney channel with our grandkids now.... just not much "good" tv out there....

    1. Cathy,

      Lawrence Welk! Wasn’t Hee-Haw on right after that? What a line-up! Thanks for reading!

  2. I remember watching Wild Kingdom. I actually liked watching the show. I liked seeing all the animals. But your right the Wonderful World Of Disney was a better show. Wow, this really brings back memories.

  3. We always went to youth group and then church on Sunday night, but I was always jealous of the lucky kids who got to stay home and watch Flipper. But that may have been the 60's!

  4. Yes! I loved Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and have fond memories of watching The Wonderful World of Disney right after. My favorite Disney movies were the ones where the camera would follow around an animal, and there was a narrator (very deep, grandfatherly-like voice) who would give an anthropomorphic run-down of what the raccoon was doing. What I wouldn't give to be able to show some of those movies to my kids!

  5. Well, I don't know about Sunday nights, but I laughed about your dad watching 60 minutes because my dad did the SAME THING!!!!!! And it was SOOOO BORING. We had to watch it, while they drank their wine. And it was horrible. I was all about the Partridge Family and Brady bunch. The Jetsons and Flinstones on Saturday mornings. I don't think we were allowed to watch tv except Saturday mornings and evenings. Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newheart and the Carol Burnett show and FANTASTY ISLAND!! The best round up of tv EVER with our popcorn and candy we were allowed to eat ONLY on Saturdays... that we bought with our allowance at the dime store earlier that day. We always had a babysitter, Gail- every Saturday night.

    Oh my... the memories!

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