Gerald Did It!!
The character that drew the strongest reaction from the viewers was Gerald (played by Pat McMahon), the perpetual 12-year old spoiled rich kid who wanted to take over the show (the station manager, whoever it was at the time, was his uncle).
His mere appearance would invite a torrent of BOOs from studio and stage audiences. His function was to get Ladmo in trouble and disrupt the show. As Ladmo was everything that kids loved, Gerald was everything kids hated. He was arrogant, pompous and he bored the audience with poetry recitals and dances. His hairstyle and dress may have changed over the 30 years he was on the show (and remember, he was only 12), but his hatred of everything fun was a constant.
Gerald despised the “middle-class” kids in the audience, calling them “public school brats” and “tract home-buying twerps.” He used his personal monster to threaten the kids and carry away guests, even though it often turned on his master.
Pat McMahon talks about Gerald:
I love variety. 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.
-from an interview in 1992
Gerald had help in his crusade to destroy Wallace and Ladmo (and their audience). Beginning in the mid-1960's, Gerald’s Monster made his (its) first appearance with his characteristic red, long-sleeved sweatshirt, ping-pong ball eyes and brown furry head and hands. Master Springer would use his henchman to carry away guests while Wallace and Ladmo would be distracted by some off-camera dilemma invented by Gerald. Looking straight into the camera, Gerald would then warn the audience that if they didn’t stop sending in nasty letters about him, that he would send his Monster to our homes. “When you hear that rustling outside your house tonight, that’ll be my Monster out to get YOU!”
Many fans have said that they thought Ladmo played the Monster. Well, here for the first time, it can be told that the Monster was played by two friends of Wallace. Bowie Adams and Larry Smith were both local heavyweight boxers who shared the duties of bringing Gerald’s muscle to life.
Wallace: Gerald, Remember a couple of weeks ago when we asked the kids to vote on whether you should stay or go on the show?
Gerald: Yeah, I didn’t think that was very funny.
Wallace: Well, the voter turnout was light, but conclusive. About 15 cards ‘n letters came in saying that you should STAY on the show.
Gerald: Good. Now that that’s over, we can move on to more important things.
Wallace: Such as . . .?
Gerald: My uncle wants to see you right now in his office. He’s the boss so you better go now!
Gerald: [To the audience] Is he gone? Good. Now, let me explain: for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting to the mail before Fats and I ripped up the eight thousand letters from kids that wanted me kicked off the show. But before I ripped ‘em up, I made a list of names and addresses. And now, I’m going to get you, each and every one of you little twerps. You wanna know how? I’m gonna have my monster stop by for a little visit.
Wallace: Hey Ger, the boss isn’t in yet. What were you telling the kids?
Gerald: Ah . . . er . . . uh . . . that I was very delighted that 15 of the little children voted to keep me on the show. Bless you, boys ‘n girls. I feel so humble.
Wallace: You see, gang, Gerald is really a very nice person.
Wallace on Gerald (2007)
Gerald's Final Goodbye (1989)