“Just For Fun!” review by Kevin Butler
Local: WNEW TV Ch.5 NYC
Saturday Mornings: Saturday Mornings:Saturday October 3,1959-Saturday September 4,1965.
Hosts: Sonny Fox (10/3/59-7/31/65)
“Uncle Fred” Scott (8/7/65-9/4/65)
In the fall of 1959..Sonny Fox’s wife Gloria was expecting another child.Her husband went to the station execs At WNEW TV C.5 and asked them for a pay raise.
The station execs refused his request for a pay raise, but they did offer Sonny an ulternitive.If he could create, produce and present another kids tv series for Ch.5’s saturday morning scheduale?
They would pay him more monies for mc’ing that program.
Not wanting to host a saturday morning edition of the station’s popular sunday morning kids’ variety program: “Wonderama!”, Fox began to tinker with different concepts.
His thoughts soon went back to the days.when he and the members of his bunk at summer camp were engaged in “The Color Wars”, a series of stunts that the campers played in teams, in order to earn points and win prizes.
Using this idea as the basis for the show’s format and hiring former WOR TV Ch.9 NYC producer and director: Bob Cahn (Who was one of the first producer/director’s of Ch.9 “Merry Mailman” )to help create the games.Sonny And Bob presented their concept to the heads of WNEW TV.
Impressed with the format..the station gave the show the green light and “Just For Fun!”made it’s debut on Ch.5 on Saturday morning October 3,1959.(the show’s theme music was the theme tune from The Bing Crosby/Fox movie musical”High Time”which was composed and arranged by Henry Mancini)
Every week Sonny put the members of “The Blue, The Gold And The White” Teams thru their paces. As they tried to throw LP discs thru a hanging target without breaking it or placing a tennis ball ontop of a vacum cleaner hose and balancing the ball on a cushion of air, as they tried to get the ball into a paper cup.
Two of the show’s most unique segments were: “The Mystery Chest” where one boy or girl had to try and find a certain key hidden inside of a large bowl..the right key would open a chest and when the chest was opened.
A siren was heard throughout the studio and that lucky kid would win a treasure chest full of toys and games from the show’s
The other segment was”The Mystery Guest”, based on the popular feature of Mark Goodson’s Sunday Night CBS TV Game Show” What’s My Line?!”. A panel of three kids (made up from members of the three teams)would try to find out the identity of the “Mystery Guest” by asking the guest questions..while blindfolded.
Such well known performers and personalities as Dayton Allen, Huntz Hall,Joe Flynn,Tim Conway,Carl Ballantine.Billy Sands,Jimmy Nelson, Paul Winchell,Chuck McCann & Paul Ashley,Mickey Mantel,Charolette Rae and Yogi Bera would engage the kids in the fun.(“The Mystery Guest”segment would be revived two decades later on WWOR TV Ch.9’s”Steampipe Alley”)
Sadly..Sonny Fox left us earlier this year..a victum of covid 19 pneumonia. He was 94. (Crying)Goodbye Sonny.