Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ding Dong School

How many of you remember Miss Francis? I grew up with her and watched her every day before I was finally old enough to actually go out into the world and attend regular school classes. But how much do you really know about her and her program?

Well, a little trip in the Wayback Machine will tell us a lot. First, boys and girls, let’s learn about Miss Frances. Her real name was Frances Rappaport Horwich, born July 16, 1907, in Ottawa, Ohio.

She earned her Master's degree in education from Columbia University and received her Doctorate at Northwestern University. She became the head of the department of education at Chicago's Roosevelt College.

"Miss Frances' Ding Dong School" was began to air in the Chicago area on NBC in the early 50s. The show quickly gained popularity among young children and was quickly broadcast nationally, Monday through Friday, beginning in November of 1952. In that year, Miss Frances won the George Foster Peabody Award.

The show at one time is suspected of having a 95 percent share on all preschoolers. In 1954, Miss Frances moved to New York, where she supervised all of NBC's children's programming. She held this position until 1956, when the show was canceled in favor of The Price is Right.. Horwich owned the rights to Ding Dong School and syndicated the show until 1965.

By 1970, Miss Frances returned to Chicago and became involved with local programming once again. She eventually retired with her husband, Harvey, to Scottsdale, Arizona. She died of congestive heart failure on July 22, 2001, at the age of 94.

Miss Frances is famed for her uncompromising principles. In addition to resigning from NBC in protest of what she felt was commercialism over education, she would never advertise products a child could not use and would never advertise toys she felt glorified violence.

She is also cited as inventing the approach of talking to the viewing audience as if they were there with you. Other notable users of this style were Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.

Miss Frances was mentioned by name in three different Peanuts strips. She was inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of the Television Arts and Sciences on June 2, 2001.

In 2006, an Ohio Historical Marker was placed by the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in her hometown of Ottawa, Ohio.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I think this is a very cool site. If you're into '50s nostalgia a must-read book is "108th Street" by T. David Lee. Great story of kids growing up in the '50s. Very funny; would suit your reader base perfectly. Keep up the good work here.