All the Wonderful Drama Behind the Scenes of Wonderama


From 1955 to 1987, in various incarnations, on a handful of stations, a variety show for children called “Wonderama” aired as one of the longest-running shows of its kind. Its simple concept was to entertain kids but also teach them skills they could use in real life. Audiences liked “Wonderama” so much, in 2016 the people who owned the rights to the format brought it back for one season. What remains to be seen is if the show records a second season. Over the years, there have been so many hosts, so many formats, one has to ask if every incarnation of “Wonderama” was even the same show?

25. Bob McAllister Was Kinda a Big Deal

Not the first host, but one of the most memorable, Bob McAllister got his start on the little stage. He worked in Norfolk, Virginia as a magician and ventriloquist before making it big. Then, McAllister appeared on “The Today Show,” hosted by Dave Garroway at the time. McAllister so impressed him, that Garroway helped him get on a talent show called “The Original Amateur Hour.” McAllister finished second place on that show.

24. The Beginning Was Tough for McAllister

Like many children’s show hosts, getting started was not so glamorous for McAllister. Back in the ’50s, television didn’t pay as well as it does today, especially when starting out. McAllister’s resume wasn’t helped by the fact that he’d dropped out of college. He’d started at the bottom too, at a local station in Norfolk, WVEC-TV. Although McAllister filled many roles there, he did host one children’s show, “Ranch House Tales.” WVEC paid him a whopping $50 per week for the show. That equates to about $25,000 a year in today’s economy. Not starving-broke, but not Hollywood money either.

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