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.