Wonderama

If you spent your childhood on Long Island in the 70s, then you surely remember Wonderama, an entertaining kids show that ran for decades on WNEW-TV.

Hosted by the affable Bob McAllister, it was hands-down the best thing on television on Sunday mornings and, as such, is fondly remembered to this day by millions of 70s kids.

Wonderama first debuted all the way back in 1955, a three-hour show that featured games, prizes, celebrities, group exercise and much more. In the 60s, it was also an hour-long weekday show, although that ended with the 60s. The 70s were unquestionably the golden years for this popular series.

 

The show had a few hosts prior, but the leisure-suit-wearing Bob McAllister is the man every 70s kid will remember. He was already a popular children’s show host (and magician) when he took over the duties on Wonderama in 1967.

Bob would remain at the helm until the series was cancelled in 1977. He would return the following year on ABC, as the host of Kids Are People Too. Unfortunately, he was replaced after the first season.

There are so many memorable aspects to Wonderama, from the “Exercise, Exercise!” song to the package of Lender’s bagelettes that every youngster in the audience received. Another popular segment featured Bob walking around the audience singing the “Good News” song as he asked random kids to share some good news with everyone.

There were also races, balloon-breaking competitions and all sorts of other activities to keep the hyper young audience amused.

 

Despite the fact that Wonderama was a children’s show, they still managed to book some decent talent during the course of the series, from The Jackson Five and Muhammad Ali to Roger Daltrey and the cast of Monty Python. It was worth tuning in each week just to see who might perform or appear for an interview.

At the conclusion of each three-hour (!) episode, Bob had some good news of his own, as he proceeded to rattle of an extensive list of free items that every kid in the audience would receive that week. Following that, it was time to sing the memorable closing song, “Kids Are People Too!”

 

Wonderama was an oasis in the barren desert that was Sunday morning programming in the 70s. And thanks to Bob McAllister’s enthusiasm and amiable personality, it was also a heck of a lot of fun each week. Bob sadly passed away in 1998, but he, nor Wonderama, will soon be forgotten as long as there are Long Island 70s kids around.

If you have fond memories of watching the Sunday show in the 70s, I hope you’ll share all of your Wonderama memories with us in the comments section below.

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52 Responses

  1. PapaTom says:

    Hey, didn’t the show go to outer space for a while? For some reason, I remember Bob in a space ship for what seemed like an eternity. And having been aware of the some of the problems the Apollo space craft had experienced, I remember worrying the entire time that Bob wouldn’t get safely back to Earth!

    • 70sKid says:

      I don’t recall Wonderama or Bob McAllister going into space. I do remember Bob Denver going to space on this Saturday morning show from the 70s though. 🙂

      Far Out Space Nuts

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Greg says:

      You know, I have a similar memory – a Wonderama “spin-off” involving space on local Channel 5, shown in the evenings I think. It was a low-budget kids show, of course: I recall their using a small Lost In Space robot toy for a character I remember as “Commander Hiccup” or “Colonel Hiccup”. I also remember a recurring “character” was some kind of ethereal monster (lizard?) who turned out to be some kind of projection gimmick, ala the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz… Or maybe I also simply dreamed it. (And yes, I recall the “Far Out Space Nuts” – different and later show.)

  2. pickmenick says:

    fingleheimer fingleheimer fingle dingleheimer!

  3. SpaceGhost says:

    Hey, does anybody remember a show called “Around the Corner?” I think it aired opposite Wonderama, I believe on CBS, but not sure. It had a catchy intro tune.

    • designdenise says:

      I have been trying to remember this show forever. I thought it was on Sunday mornings, but I may be wrong. I remember the song, but can’t find any info on it!! It’s driving me crazy!!

    • Brian Phillips says:

      I don’t remember the show, but it ran from 1963-1970 and featured Molly Scott.

    • Rose Biondi says:

      Yes. wcbs. I was on the show once. Won a CBD children’s art award. Been looking for a video archive for years without any luck

  4. Amy Williams says:

    I use to be on the show back in 1973-1975 jumping Double Dutch, on of there episodes, I’m trying to find information to get the tapes from those years. If u can help me, it will mean the world to me. Thanks

    • Shawn says:

      Hey Amy, I too have been looking for the 1975 episode, which I believe was the second year of the Double Dutch tournament, the tournament I participated in. Being on Wonderama was so exciting!

    • MAJ Lich says:

      OH WOW! I remember that episode when I was just four. You guys were outstanding; that seemed to be lightening fast!

  5. William Bianco says:

    I was on an episode of wonderama as a child, All i remember is the musical guest was the Rock Flowers. Would love to know what episode that was and get a tape of that episode .
    Can anyone help?

    • Ray says:

      Tapes were erased and re-used, Thays why hardly any taped shows from the 60’s exist. Wonderama was recorded on two 90 min reels of tape, each reel cost aroind $275. Back then, that was a considerable amount of money.
      I worked on that show and was in the tape room

      • Bondi says:

        Hi Ray. How great to meet a member of the production of a beloved show from my childhood. I loved the games and pursued a part-time career in magic because of Wonderama. Regarding the tape room, was the tape format 3/4 inch? I know that the networks were using 2-inch tape in the 1980’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I remember being in Wonderama, where a representative came by Robert F. Wagner J.H.S. 167 and selected a group 9f students and meeting Curtis Mayfield, everyone was doing the hustle except me and the young lady I was dancing wirh, we did the freestyle dance. We won a Panasonic bubble cassette player and a recoding abulm, tracks from Car Wash. Loved the whole experience.

  6. William Bianco says:

    Chrisandbill617 at aol dot com
    Does anyone know what episode of wonderama had the musical guest The Rock Flowers?
    does anyone have a copy of that episode?
    Bill

  7. denice says:

    I loved this show so much! Thanks for this. I lived in Bethpage and levittown Long Island NY

  8. Susie Smith says:

    I watch the show from California and I remember the kids dancing. They showed one kid at a time and whatever the kids were doing would become the dancing moves of the time. That’s where I got my moves.

  9. Eileen Ryan says:

    I was on an episode around 1976 with Rita Coolidge and Joe Raposa. How do I see clips from that expisode I never got to see it air I was on a camping trip

  10. Christine Giglia says:

    I too, was on Wonderama in 1977 when Rita Coolidge sang “Higher & Higher”. I was 1 of the Daily Press reporters. My cousin, Diane was the Disco Kid & her friend-Terry did tricks with Bob McAllister. For YEARS- I’ve been looking for this particular copy of the show . Please respond & advise of ur findings. Thank you Christine

    • Karin says:

      HI Christine!
      what a coincidence! I’d really love to get a copy of that show too. I totally remember Rita Coolidge singing “Higher and Higher.”

  11. Kerri Coughlin says:

    I’m looking to find an episode too April 4 1976 ???
    Kerri

    • Mark Calandra says:

      Were you in the audience? I was there as well. The guests were Stephanie Mills and Ralph Carter. The show was taped on March 25th. My cousin was born that morning…and that was my “Good News” comment. ;-). Unfortunately, I’ve never found a copy, or any scenes from that episode. Mark

  12. Donald S. Telfair says:

    I’m trying to find the episode where my sister J’vonne won all the prizes playing hopscotch

  13. Erik Reichmann says:

    As a New Jersey 70’s kid, I tip my hat to my L.I. cohort–the metro New York/Tri-State area was the place to be! I loved “Wonderama” (and the Bugs Bunny cartoons on the hour) that Channel 5 used to show. Remember the “Snake Cans”? You won a ten-speed bike if you found the can with the bouquet of flowers. Those spring-loaded snakes used to freak me out!

  14. Cheryl Latronica Masone says:

    I was in the audience and I saw the guy on the side hold up a sign with the word “egg.” I had a bag of all different items to try and win a prize. I remember seeing that word and dug deep in my bag and pulled out the egg. I won!! I won a red tape recorder!! What my family found very funny is that at age 58, while watching the videos of the shows, I remembered all the words to the songs. Although I don’t know why Wonderama popped into my head tonight – but it brought back great memories.

  15. Tony Fiorino says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I occasionally stumble upon stories like these and it warms my heart. Why? Because my partners and I are producing Wonderama and it’s coming back to TV for Families everywhere! I grew up in Malverne during the 70’s and it’s great to see so many of my brothers and sisters in the same place online! We produced 13 episodes and are currently producing our winter holiday special. We also produced a few special segments for Halloween to kind of tease the arrival of Wonderama first weekend in December. I hope we can count on the support of former (and current) “Wonderama Kids” like you. Please check us out at http://www.WonderamaTV.com where you can see the segments and follow us on social. Thanks!

    • Dan Pavlu says:

      NJ boy here, I was on Wonderama when I was 10 (1970). Bob McAllister was like Santa Claus. As nice off screen as on. Was one of the best days of my childhood. Do you know of any way to get tape of shows from back then. I never did get to see the episode that I was on. Thanks Dan Jersey Boy.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I used to love ❤️ this show

  17. Pamela says:

    What a trip down Memory Lane! Watched WONDERAMA every week. I was in the audience for the show when sports artist LeRoy Neiman was the guest. They gave out Lenders’ Bagels during the long taping for the 3 hour program. They gave us a white sweatshirt with a Neiman painting on the front. I still have it somewhere. My friend and I were seated in the Peanut Gallery. Bob talked a lot with me but I don’t remember how much made it out of the editing room and on to the screen. I would LOVE to see clips from this specific episode. It was taped sometime in the early 70s. Do they exist?!

  18. Jeanns says:

    Looking for video from dance competition on wonderama with peaches and cream as judges from late 70’s

  19. Ray says:

    I worked on that show often. I was in the tape room on the 2nd floor. I would often go into the studio during the breaks to speak to the producer and Bob McAlister.
    Unfortunalty nost if the recordings of the show have been erased and re-used. This was the beauty of video tape. Rhe show was recorded on two 90 minute reels of 2″ tape. Each reel would cost about $275 per reel. So each show would cost $550 to store, not to mention the vast amoint of space it would require to store them!
    Hardly any shows that were taped in the 60s exist due to the re-use of the tape. Some people has 3/4″ copies of shows, but the originals are long gone
    Same thing for the Soupy Sales shows and others
    Its sad not to have copies of these classics anymore.

  20. Marykay D says:

    I had these memories from NJ of the show, I remember singing along and getting the bagel necklace. I was under 10 years old but remember bits and peaces. Now I am almost 50 years old and I decided to start googling his name and WOW I am glad I am not crazy this guy really existed in my world on the 70’s growing up in NJ. So happy to see the memories here. RIP BOB you made a difference even though the ratings didn’t think so but that’s because we all went to your shows lol.

  21. Tracey says:

    My older sister got tickets for us (3 sisters). I almost wasn’t let in because I was too young or something but think I promised to behave and my oldest sister (I’m the youngest) promised to look after me. All I remember about the taping is they had some guest who met and memorized the names of all the kids in audience, then recited them back later. That was some big day in the city for a little kid from Mineola.

  22. Marc Wasserman says:

    Was on the show taped on one of the President’s day in 1970. I remember everything to this day. Wow

  23. Forrest says:

    Where is the Wonderama broadcast featuring students from Robert F. Wagner JHS in 1976 or 1977?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I too was once a contestant on this show when I was 9 yrs old. That was about 1971. My great uncle worked for NBC at the time and had gotten me tickets. My mother took me to Manhattan where they were taping the show. it was around Easter time as I recall and i answered a question. I was JUMPING UP AND DOWN LIKE CRAZY!! He picked me and said this jumping bean right here. the question was name an animal that can carry a load, I said Camel. it was a good answer but they were looking for horse. I won an eyewitness board game and had a ball. I was in the front row as I was short and always in the front rows!!!

  25. Lisa says:

    Looking for the whales vs chipmunks 3 12ft whales performed Christmas songs on the show n across the bottom

  26. Charlie says:

    My brother was in 2nd grade, and I was in fifth in 1977 when we went into Manhattan to the old Metromedia (pre-Fox Network) studios for the taping of a Wonderama episode. I remember receiving the gift bag containing the coveted Lenders Bagel covered in lacquer on a leather lanyard. I vaguely remember the celebrity guests being Ashford and Simpson. I have no personal record of the day because this was before our family bought our first top loader VCR. I did some research and found that the clips included with this article are very rare because broadcasters were using VHS to record the episodes, and at the time it was an expensive format. Therefore, they just recorded over earlier episodes to save money, so most records of this great show have been lost.

  27. Anonymous says:

    My younger brothers and sisters would be more familiar with Wonderama during the Bob McAllister years. I grew up with Sonny Fox as it’s host.

  28. Mike C. says:

    Hi there. Long shot, but as a kid I was interviewed for an animation segment during the early 1980’s Wonderama kid’s show. Can anyone help in finding this footage anywhere? Greatly appreciated.

  29. Randy Perlman says:

    I was on the show at age 11 which would have been the fall of 1971. The ages of kids was grades 2 through 6 so I was one of the older kids. I got to tell a joke if you recall that segment. My joke was : When is a man a gentleman? Bob said when, and I said, when he opens the door to let his wife take out the trash. How dated, politically incorrect was that joke, omg! I would kill for a recording of that segment. I also competed a team building competition using giant tinker toys. Our team attempted to build a car. I recall telling Bob.. it’s trying to be a car. What a hoot.. Cheers everyone!

  30. Rafael says:

    My two cousins and I were on Wonderrama when Bob McAllister was the host sometime between 70-74. I won a pair of sneakers I recall and they wond something else. Does anyone know where old copies of the show are so I can view them and find the correct one? It would be nice to find it so I share with my cousins so we could watch together.

  31. Alice says:

    I vaguely remember being in the audience too. But it’s so hazy. Every once in a while I think about it but can’t recall much. Bummer. Never asked my parents about it either. I think because I was such a shy kid, I was probably terrified and deliberately blocked it out. Oh well. Thanks for the forgotten memories. Still forgotten.

  32. Robin says:

    Hi . I was a dance contestant on the show when I was in 5th or 6th grade. One of my greatest memories and moments was being picked as a finalist for dance competition and than dance on platform. It was the show with artist Leroy Neiman. I won rollerskates 🙂 I am still dancing…..
    People say to me you’re a great dancer
    My answer I am a wonderama girl .

  33. Betsy Kennedy says:

    My family lived on Long Island. In the early 70s six of my older siblings were on a Wonderama show. They won games and got bags of gifts and junk food to bring home. I was too young, so I did not go with them. Are there photos from the show episodes, still shots? I saw a posting that said they taped over the show reels so no show tapes are around, but it would be fun to see some photos from the show. A time capsule of fabulous fashion and hair do’s (and don’ts).

  34. Betsy Kennedy says:

    Wasn’t there a cracker-eating whistling contest?

  35. Stelth says:

    I grew up in NJ, very close to Manhattan. I Watched Wonderama every Sunday. Bob McAllister was a great host. I also remember watching Abbott & Costello movies after the Wonderama show was over; I think they were on WOR. Great memories. I always wanted to be in the audience but my parents feared NYC and and the crime there, so we never drove into the city even though it was only 20 or so miles from our house.

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