Pat McMahon joins the show...Mike Condello is discovered...Aunt Maud, Mr. Grudgemeyer, Gerald, Marshall Good, the Wizard and Boffo join the show...Pat gets fired, and...the Ladmo Bag is Born (!)
The Sixties were quite a busy decade for the Wallace & Ladmo
It’s Wallace was going strong on Channel 5.
The two of us [Wallace & Ladmo], we did well and we went through the late 50s and the show had a good audience. We were always sold out. In working with Lad we developed a deal where we would go out to the desert or the park and make our little films and our bits went real well.
Then, in the early 60s, in ’60 or ’61, Ladmo and I won Emmys. Both years for best children’s show. Then [Pat] McMahon came along and added all of those wonderful characters. He not only enlarged the show as far as the entertainment goes, but the demographics. College kids were tuning in and adults were tuning in to watch McMahon’s characters. I’ve always felt that just Lad and I eventually would have run it’s course. But with McMahon coming on and what he contributed had never been seen the type of humor that he was doing. Made the show last 35, almost 36 years. It was great working with both of those guys.
Wallace (2007) on the 60's and Pat
[The show was] a lot of slapstick comedy. Lot of Laurel and Hardy stuff. Pie in the face. Lot of pie in the face. Boy, I got hit by a hundred pies, maybe. The boxes were coming and dropping off the catwalks. It was a lot of sight [gag] stuff. Lot of visual stuff. That was the early Wallace and Ladmo stuff. We always felt we needed one more thing to make it kind of perfect. Then up came Pat McMahon...
It's Wallace: Vase Baseball
The son of vaudeville parents, Pat McMahon studied speech and drama at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. After graduation, Pat did commercial work throughout the Midwest. He had his own American Bandstand-type show in Davenport.
It's Wallace Car
Wallace and Aunt Maud
Pat then served a stint in the Army in the Special Services. He entertained troops all across the United States. After being released, he decided to visit Phoenix.
Pat McMahon continues . . .
I applied to all of the local television stations. Channel 5 had an immediate opening. I started there. One of the first television shows that I ever saw, before I had ever worked there, was the Wallace and Ladmo Show. I almost turned it off because I thought ‘No! Not another one of those stupid kid’s shows with the agonizingly saccharine host who tells the boys and girls to eat all of the green vegetables on their plate and brush their teeth.’ [Kids’ shows were] some guy from another department that they gave an extra $42.00 to and he put a sock on his hand and was a cheap ventriloquist act. Most of the time it was just a gathering of no-talents of the world who demeaned the audience of kids. They were not around kids at all, and I had not been a children’s entertainer as such, but I knew better than to talk down to kids.
Wallace (2007) on Ladmo Jets
But God, I saw the Wallace and Ladmo Show at my house that day, for the first time, and I said ‘This is brilliant!’ Here are these two guys doing a commercial, I remember it was 1960, for a thing called ‘Ruskettes Flakes’ and Wallace said to Ladmo, ‘We’re in trouble again. The advertising agency doesn’t want us to ad lib the commercial.’ Ladmo says ‘Well, what are we supposed to do?’ Wallace says ‘Well, we’re supposed to read the script. Here, you be Personality One and I’ll be Personality Two.’ This is on the air! I never saw these guys before, and Ladmo looks at the script and says ‘Gee golly willikers, gang, these are scrumptious and good for you.’ And then he says ‘Wallace, I can’t read this. People don’t talk this way.’ Wallace says ‘You’re absolutely right.’ Tears the top off this box and says ‘Look, kids, they’re corn flakes. You like corn flakes, then why not try these? There’s a guy named Ruskettes that has a warehouse full of these things over on the coast. Why not have him unload some at your house? If you don’t like corn flakes, you can always wait until the holidays’ and reaches in and tosses the corn flakes in the air and sings ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot. . .’
I said ‘I love these guys I want to be on that show. I want to be part of that madness.’ That’s the first time I ever saw them. I got an announcer’s job at Channel 5, started hanging around the studio, watching the show with no idea that I really would be on. One day, Wall, who had become my friend, and Ladmo had become my friend because we all saw things in the same kind of warped way. He said ‘Hey, we need another guy on this bit, this three-man bit, will you help us out?’ I helped him out for the next 30 years.
Now that the trio was complete, a whole new set of characters were created. The first few characters that Pat played were Byron DoGood, an inept civil servant, and Zoomar from the planet Zork. Both were relatively short-lived.
Zoomar, early Pat character
1961 TeeVee Guide
TeeVee Guide 8th Anniversary Article
Pat Publicity Photo (1962)
Mid 60's Set
The first of the permanent characters to come along was Aunt Maud Garntz from mythical Senior City, Arizona. Aunt Maud was a hip granny who had a gossip column "Consider the Source" in a local Phoenix TV magazine. “She” made her first public appearance at Park Central Mall on Central Avenue and Osborn Road in 1961.
Aunt Maud: Gossip
Wallace decided that Ladmo needed an adversary, someone with whom he could indulge in knock-down drag out kind of physical humor. Mr. Grudgemeyer was born in 1961 (see the Characters page). “Heroic” Captain Super was created in 1964. Marshall Good and Boffo the Clown (originally called Ozob) would join the show in 1965. The Wizard and Bobby Jo Trouble would follow in 1967.
A not-so mild sensation was created in 1963 with the birth of the most-hated “child” in Arizona. GERALD!!!
Pat McMahon explains:
I love the idea of going in and having no idea what characters had been written for that day, and sometimes created for me because Wall would sometimes say ‘Look, I have this great idea. Ladmo is the good guy, we really need a bad guy’ and then we would kick around, just things. Wallace came up with the name Gerald Springer and thought it would be a good idea that it was a rich kid because there’s a certain logic. You don’t want it to be an authority figure, you want it something that the kids can really strike out at. We didn’t know that they were going to strike out quite as viciously as they did against Gerald.
At this same time, Wallace decided to make popular music an everyday part of the show. He promoted many local bands on both the show and during public appearances.
A lot of good times. It brought music to our show with [Mike] Condello. The music years I really enjoyed with Mike. It brought that extra element to our show. I had Mike on my afternoon show. We had a spin-off. Ladmo at lunch, or Ladmo at noon. Mike was my partner. He was my friend on that show. So it was Ladmo and Mike on the afternoon show.
Wallace discovered him at Stage Seven. Jack Curtis on Stage Seven on Seventh Street and Indian School Road. . .It was a teenage dance night every Saturday night and Mike played there. So I think Wallace heard him and went there and saw him and said ‘Hey, would you guys like to be on a show called Teen Beat with Pat McMahon?’ It was played every Monday for, during the summer, for years. [It was] American Bandstand with no dancing, though, more of entertaining.
Any celebrities that came into town, they would appear on the show. Plus we had local bands on the show. Alice Cooper was on the show. Alice Cooper was on the Wallace and Ladmo Show as The Spiders. We had a lot of local talent. The Tubes were on, and a lot of national personalities stopped by. So that’s how we got Mike from Teen Beat to the Ladmo Show to The Wallace & Ladmo Show.
Mike Condello continues . . .
I was playing nightclubs at the time, too, just under a bunch of names. Mike Condello’s Band, stuff like that. Lee Hazelwood signed us to a singles deal then and he thought that Last Friday’s Fire was a clever name. I’m not sure that we agreed with him, but he thought it was a clever name and so we changed it for the record and we were Last Friday’s Fire for oh, a good three and a-half, four years.
One of the things that comes back to me is; when I was a kid, I was in grade school. I was a fan. I was a kid that watched the Wallace and Ladmo Show. And, like every kid, the first time you lay your eyes on Ladmo there is this thing that happens to you. I know this guy. I love this guy. Years later when we were working together, there was a period where Lad had a show in the morning. I think it was from 11:30 to 1, or something like that. Then, of course, there was the afternoon show, the Wallace and Ladmo Show. I would do both shows. Many days Ladmo and I would spend time in between the two shows, we would go to my house and we would write something for the aftternoon show. Like the Ladmo Civic Operas, I recall. And I recall, even after knowing Lad for several years, occasionally just sitting, coming up with these absurd ideas which he was so wonderful at, I would catch myself looking at him and going ‘Hey, I know Ladmo. I’m the coolest guy around.’
Wallace (2007) talking about Mike Condello
Mike Condello would become a regular on Wallace and Ladmo from 1962 to 1971. He would wear a striped shirt, vest and corduroy pixie-style hat.
Aunt Maud's weekly column "Consider the Source" in the Tee Vee Magazine (1964):
This week's topic: Hub Kapp and the Wheels.
Ladmo and Mike Condello
The 60's also saw the birth of the local rock n’ roll idol Hub Kapp. See the “Music” page for the history of Hub Kapp and Commodore Condello.
Hub Kapp and the Wheels Steve Allen Show, 1964
The Kersten Brothers!!
In the 1960s, Rick and Pete Kersten became an important part of the show. Both attended Arizona State University and majored in commercial art. They met Wallace in 1962 and have been friends ever since. They shared Wallboy’s love of Civil War history and art. They first worked on art projects for It’s Wallace? starting in 1963. They drew cartoons and backdrops for the set. They lent their artistic talents to coloring books, posters, buttons and other items sold at the Wallace & Ladmo Drive-Ins and the Arizona State Fair. They drew a Wallace & Ladmo cartoon strip that began appearing in the local paper The Evening American in 1964.
Multi-talented actor Sandy Gibbons was already a busy show-biz personality before he began appearing on the Wallace and Ladmo Show in the early 1960s. Sandy came to Arizona in 1959 with many TV appearances, commercial and nightclub experience, and he even cut a record. He began his career in Arizona as staff announcer for KNOT Radio in Prescott. He started at KPHO Radio in 1961 and quickly made the jump to television. He became KPHO-TV’s staff announcer and later, program director. He is perhaps most remembered for his hosting the popular daytime “Dialing for Dollars” show. He also produced the Golden Palace Saloon Show out at Legend City.
Sandy seemed an easy fit into the insanity that was Wallace and Ladmo. He would often appear as an emcee during skits and even appeared semi-regularly as both Ranger Bob and Inspector Blitz (see CHARACTERS page). Sandy’s most dangerous “stunt” was the infamous “Save the Bridge” rally at Encanto Park in 1968 (see APPEARANCES page).
Ranger Bob (1982)
Since leaving Channel 5, Sandy has stayed very busy on both the stage and screen. He appeared regularly on “Little House on the Prairie”, among other shows, and had parts in the locally-filmed movies TOMBSTONE and USED CARS. He can still be seen in television commercials in Arizona.
The KRIZ Konnection
Wallace and Ladmo enjoyed a long and beneficial partnership with the now-defunct Phoenix rock and roll station KRIZ (1230 on your AM dial). Pat McMahon, when not appearing on Wallace & Ladmo, was a popular KRIZ on-air personality and even served as program manager. KRIZ would go a long way in promoting Wallace and Ladmo personal appearances. The Wallace and Ladmo Drive-In restaurants would feature free KRIZ newspapers and cool stuff for sale. Wallace, Lad and Mike Condello even played on the KRIZ charity basketball team, the KRIZ Whizbangs. Tony Evans of KRIZ also played sports with the Ladmo Jets. Also, according to legend, Tony Evans discovered Hub Kapp while driving through Cotton Corners, Tennessee (see MUSIC page). Tony even appears on the back of Hub Kapp and the Wheel’s first album. KRIZ would sign off the air in 1978.
Pat Gets Fired
With the show going strong, Pat McMahon decided that the show was ready for other markets, for possible syndication. With Wallace & Ladmo blessings and a bit of the Kersten Bros. artwork, he put together a booklet singing the praises of the show. When the general manager of Channel 5 found out about it, McMahon was fired.
Wallace scrambled to fill the void left by Pat’s departure. He introduced the Inspector Blitz character to take the place of Gerald. When it was discovered that the show as not the same without Pat, he was rehired by the same general manager nine months later.
Outisde of syndication brochure
Inside of syndication brochure
New York City Article
The Ladmo Show
Ladmo was given his own noontime show in 1964. Ladmo hosted cartoons with interludes of music with Mike Condello and Ladmo’s new pal in the park, Harvey Trundel. Harvey (known simply as THE HARV!!!) was in reality, stagehand Brian Donohue.
Brian himself explains . . .
I landed a job as a boom operator, teleprompt turner and overall grunt. Soon I became a cameraman working on the Wallace & Ladmo Show. Wallace knew thatI was a ham so every once in a while he’d have a bit for me while I was actually televising the show. I’d lock the camera in place, run around the camera to the Wallace and Ladmo set, do the bit and then go back and run the camera.
Eventually, Wallace had me play a permanent character and his name was Harvey Trundel. In addition to the Wallace & Ladmo show, Ladmo and I started a noon-day show. We would host different personalities and do bits just like the afternoon show at 4 p.m. I played Harvey Trundel for three years and it was one of the best times of my life. Doing personal appearances, football and basketball games with the Ladmo Jets, singing and carrying on like buffoons and getting paid for it. What a joy!
The Sixties were indeed a magical time for the show. Wallace has said before that the show really hit its stride during that decade. The trio was established. The format was laid down that would continue well into the 70's and the 80's.
TeeVee Guide Ladmo Show
10th Anniversary Artilce
15th Anniversary Article
Aunt Maud's weekly column
"Consider the Source" in the
Tee Vee Magazine (1964)
Wade Bray and Cast
Wallace and Ladmo Theme Song
The Wallace and Ladmo Show theme song was written by Mike Condello.
(Download Clip - 699KB)
Wallace and Ladmo Show Theme
The New Ladmo?
In the summer of 1964 after my freshman year at ASU (I lived in Phoenix from 1963 to 1976) I worked at KPHO-TV as a floor crewman, mostly running the mike boom for the Marge Condon Show and Wallace and Ladmo Show. In the latter, all kinds of fun went on too during the commercial breaks, as you may imagine... One of Wallace's gags on me was to make a sudden lunge for the boom mike and pull it into on-air view; I got pretty good at anticipating him and yanking it away just enough just in time. In one commercial break I made some crack about a new Ladmo allied with Gerald. Instantly (just time to put on a Ladmo costume), Bill, Lad and Pat McMahon put me into the show and someone else took over the mike boom. I (all of us) totally winged it... the new Ladmo was trying to teach children about science and arachnids and such. This continued for about three days and Wallboy put the audience to a vote for the old vs. new Ladmo. The kids across the street from me told all their friends who told all theirs, and there was actually a vote of something like 50 for the new Ladmo, of course totally overwhelmed by the vote for the real Ladmo. I still have a photo taken then of Lad and me in our Ladmo outfits. During one of our "winged" skits where I was carrying on about encyclopedias or some such thing, Richard Rawls, the station manager (who had originally hired me), came in and was having the hardest time to keep from laughing out loud. I seem to recall that there was another show started about then called the Harvey Trundle Show, where Harvey was a hobo. Wallace and Ladmo were also involved. There were more boom-mike-grabbing attempts... it was a unique, wonderful time and I'm delighted to have been in a small way involved. Once that summer I played the theater pipe organ in the Orpheum, now Palace West, for a live W & L stage show. WARMEST WISHES to all!!! ...Remember Jack Ross and Acquanetta, also Channel 5 staples?
- Wade Bray
The Birth of the Ladmo Bag
The Wallace & Ladmo Show offered lots of prizes to the audience on a daily basis. For the first tenyears of the show (1954-1964), kids could win prizes in a variety of ways. A large barrel on wheels was brought in containing postcards that theaudience had sent in. A card was pulled, the name was read, and they were invited down to the show.Drawing contests, Ladmo tie contests and costume contests all provided winners. Kids were invited to come on down to the KPHO Studio on 1st Street, be on the show, and pick out their prize. However, all did not always go according to plan.
Wallace (2007) talking about
the birth of the Ladmo Bag.
We used to have contests and we invited winners to come down on the show and pick out a prize on the shelf from the Toy Cottage. Now, we had girl’s prizes, boy’s prizes. Lot of prizes on the show. Well, before the show started we would take the kid, the winners, up there and say ‘OK, now what toy do you want? ‘Cause when we ask you what toy you want, you just say you want this toy. So what toy do you want?’ The kid would look and say ‘OK, I’ll take that airplane.’ Well, when it comes time on the air, this is live television, we can’t stop. We ask the kid ‘OK, what do you want?’ Now instead of saying the airplane, he says “Oh, I don’t know. Ahhh . . . ‘ Now, all of a sudden, television is dead air because a lot of the kids took a lot of time and we didn’t want to seem like we’re pushing a toy on the kid. And it didn’t happen all the time.
When it did happen, there was that dead air. We were always kind toward the kids. We didn’t say ‘You know, you said before you wanted the airplane!’ We always treated them nice.
So, how did the gang avoid the dead air? Behold the birth of . . .The Holy Grail of Arizona THE LADMO BAG!!!
Legend City Coupon
Ladmo Day Coupon
|Fox Chris-Town Theatres Coupon|
Mark Ishikawa with a
rare early 70's Ladmo bag
Ladmo continues the story:
So Pat [McMahon] said ‘You know, we should take that thing and put it in a bag and say ‘Here’s your prize.’ Then we said ‘Wait a minute, we could put potato chips in there from Clover Club’ because they were a sponsor. Hey, maybe we could get some other stuff from our other sponsors. And that’s how it snowballed.
We started with a toy from the Toy Cottage and we added ingredients from our sponsors like Clover Club. Like, who else did we have? Sealtest put certificates in for ice cream. We had Mary Ellen jelly. Jars of jam. So, we had a lot of stuff in the Ladmo Bag. They were big. They were the size of a grocery bag. The reason for that was also the toys were big and Clover Club gave us those big bags that were about 59 cents then. So we filled the Ladmo Bag up and it was pretty good. Today they’re smaller, but that’s inflation.
Wallace had this to say:
It seems like the world was divided in two after about 30 – 40 years of giving away Ladmo Bags. If you got one, it’s the first thing they told ya’, and how they remember it and got that bag full of all kinds of goodies and they got to talk to Ladmo and they got the bag and it was great and they’ll always remember it.
If they had not won, didn’t win a Ladmo Bag when they showed up at an appearance, that was also the first thing you heard. ‘The kid next to me wanted to change seats and he got the bag’ and they say that ‘I feel deprived my whole life because I never got a Ladmo Bag.’
The fans speak:
I remember seeing them at Maryvale Mall, and the demon seed child sitting next to me won the Ladmo Bag! I also saw them at the [Arizona] State Fair each year and at Legend City. I never won a Ladmo Bag and I’m still in therapy because of it! I’ll never forget that boy winning the bag. To this day he’s still a nasty hoodlum and didn’t deserve the privilege. I feel better now.
- Michelle C.
From then on, the entire known universe of creation became separated into those who did, and those who didn’t . . . . win a Ladmo Bag!!!.
A Crew/Cast Story:
In the early 60’s I finally got a job in television at KTVK Channel 3. I was still hanging out with Wallboy and the gang. We would go to Nogales so Wallboy could do his bull-fighting, shoot Old Time Movies like “Cannonball Junction”, and was still a member of the sports team “ the Ladmo Jets”. One day Wallace asked me if I would like to come over to KPHO and be in a short skit on the show. Naturally I said yes. The skit involved me accepting an award, on behalf of KPHO, for having the smallest parking lot in Phoenix, which they did. There were about six spots which were always full and almost impossible to get in and out of. The skit started out with Wallace being upset because I was late showing up to accept the award. When I came on camera I told Wallace I was late because I could’nt find a place to park (ha ha). At the time there were two on-air announcers over at KTVK where I worked by the names of Russ Upton and Don Tutt. Wallace had named my character “Upton Tutt”. After the skit was over the studio crew was laughing like crazy. Seems like I had refereed to Wallace as “Bill” throughout the entire skit! I had no clue that I had done that! Wallace and Lad were laughing the hardest of all. The next day when I went to work the general manager of KTVK caught me in the hall and said he had seen my work on the Wallace and Ladmo show and thought It was in poor taste and not very funny. He was a crusty old guy that never smiled. Never liked him much. But then I thought , anyone who takes time out of his hectic day to watch the Wallace and Ladmo Show can’t be all bad.
- Sonny Stires