Tulsa TV Memories: Tulsa TV/radio/movies/pop culture of the past      

Basil Lionbone, The King, Lee, and Granny (from Betty Boyd's book)
Basil Lionbone, King Lionel, Lee, and Granny

Lee Woodward & King Lionel

L & L YouTubes on the TTM Channel.

The history of Lee and Lionel (6 pages)

4/20/2004: A day at home with Lee & Lionel

Renowned painter Thomas Loepp did the Royal Portrait

Article by Wilhelm Murg: King Lionel Lives!
(see Lee morphing into Lionel, and vice-versa)

(via email, 6/16/2000) Lee Woodward said:

Miss Peter Pan, Lionel and Lee The Webmaster has been kind enough to post a new photo of Lee & Lionel on the main page. This photo was sent as a test to see if he could receive my images. Halle Julia! It worked. You realize that this opens a can of worms?

I stole a mountain of photos that the learned heads were about to toss, along with video tape and 35mm film. Good thing I kept all those 45's and 33 rpm's that record companies sent me during Dance Party! Happily, it seems that others out there have done the same in saving these treasures. I digress!

The silly-looking people in the photo are (as alert reader Don Norton pointed out), Miss "Peter Pan" and the first official Lee and Lionel get-up. This was around 1959 or '60 I'm guessing. I think the get up was for me to be some nutty Professor-type. The badge on the Top Hat says "The Three Stooges on TV Now". I had the cutaway coat, the cravat, and of course, a rope for a belt. The electronic junk in the background was junk left over from George Jacob inventions or Jim Ruddle's show.  

Lionel's high dollar residence is actually the box that he came in. I had his name painted on a piece of black mat board and taped it over the printing on the box. (A story having to do with his kidnapping which will have to wait.)

Prior to this I had not had any set or formal routine. We just did skits during the movie cut-in's in the afternoon slot. Obviously, during the photo shoot, I didn't bother to put my left hand under his "House" to hold it up!

Mike has asked me to do some fill in on Lionel's birth etc. I'll get to that one day!

Lee Woodward sings  4/11/2001: Lee just recorded a Hoagy Carmichael tune, "One Morning in May", using the Bert Kaempfert Orchestra as backing. I think you'll agree with me that Lee is one terrific singer when you hear this TTM exclusive!

Lee Woodward sings  Lee sings!  8/10/2001: Lee presents another song, "Fools Rush In" by Johnny Mercer!

  Five 30-second 1988 Lee & Lionel spots for South Park Lincoln.

 Lee sings!  12/4/02: Special treat this Christmas season: see and hear Lee Woodward sing "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "The Christmas Song". The clip is from Mike Flynn's program "Easy Country" in the late 70s.

Ken Broo (from Guestbook 119) Ken Broo said:

Loved the video clips of Lee Woodward singing Christmas songs, particularly the one he was singing to the Southwestern Bell operator. It gets a little lonely here in Cincy at times. Do you think, if I left my number, Lee could call me up and sing me a tune over the phone?

(from Guestbook 119) Lee Woodward replied:

Note to Ken Broo: I don't do phone sex!

(2/7/99) The webmaster said:

I saw Lee Woodward while shopping in south Tulsa yesterday. He is a very distinguished-looking gentleman these days.

King Lionel had no trouble holding his own with the news anchor, Clayton Vaughn or Bill Pitcock, and the sportscaster, Mack Creager or Ken Broo (Lee was the weatherman). The King got frequent chuckles from the cameramen. There probably weren't too many news teams in the country featuring a puppet, but Tulsa was fortunate enough to have Lee and Lionel around for many years.

Morgan Woodward I miss the easy-going humor on local television in the days before "consultants". The camera would settle on Lionel, and you could count on Lee's sharp wit to make it entertaining.

Lee's brother, Morgan, is a veteran character actor and guest-starred in a couple of classic Star Treks: "Dagger of the Mind" and "Omega Glory", as well as "Bonanza", "Then Came Bronson", and many other series and movies. Oh, yes, and he was the boss man wearing mirror shades in "Cool Hand Luke".

1/1/08: Added to GB 232, a new photo of Morgan Woodward at age 6, courtesy of Lee Woodward.

(from Guestbook 1) Mike Bruchas said:

KOTV's Wayne JohnsonWayne Johnson (not Wayne "Tuffy" Johnson), who was a clarinetist in the Bob Wills bands of the 40's, was at KOTV as an engineer/audioman.

A joy at the KOTV Xmas party was Wayne playing clarinet or sax and Lee Woodward singing.

(and from Guestbook 3)

Former KOTV/KTUL photog Carlos Hernandez is the new Chief Photog at WTTG/Fox in Washington. He said he was in Tulsa for the KOTV 50th anniversary party a few years back and had a great time. Seeing Lee Woodward was special, he said.

(from Guestbook 7) Hurst Swiggart said:

Hello again!!! I worked at KOTV from 1962-1964.... my wife Barbara Jean was Continuity Director at 6 and lured me away from KTUL-TV. I worked for a time as a cameraman on Sun-Up, an early morning show beginning at 6am and hosted by Chuck Bowman (ultimately he was in Airplane 1 as a pilot) I wonder if he is still in Hollywood? The first host of Sun-Up was Bob Mills and he was revered as the king of morning TV. Bowman did a quite admirable job of filling his shoes. Lee Woodward was a co-host as I remember and was the host on the monday after the Beatles 1st USA appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Lee's comments were a hoot and I wish the tape had survived (the show was live and taped for the archives). Lee was and is an extremely creative Soul. When he was host of Lee and Lionel he was a very articulate funny man and still is. He also designed and built the castle for King Lionel. I will never forget the double takes from the King when Lee would make some audacious comment. Lee is a sales executive with Thomas Cadillac as I recall.

Hurst Swiggart, Fall 1997

(from Guestbook 7) Mark Hyatt said:

Remember Lee Woodward as announcer as well as weatherman? He did station identification in a sounding matter. KOTV Channel 6, First in Tulsaaa.(23K .wav file).  (Mark, you've got to be impressed that I found exactly the clip you mentioned! 6/26/2000: I got a note from Mark saying that he was indeed impressed...Webmaster)

Click here to hear another of Lee's station ID's! (25K .wav file)

(from email, 6/16/200) Lee Woodward said:Lee opening a grocery store

This photo goes way back...I was doing a grocery store opening on 6th Street at about Utica? The cameraman was one of the first I knew at 6. His name was Roy Deiterling (sp?). Another was Marvin Lawill who went on to win on Arthur Godfrey's "Talent Scouts." This will give our Camera Scouts a chance to I.D. the equipment. Did Roy ever get mentioned before? (read more about Marvin in Guestbook 23...Webmaster)

Also, Jim Ruddle could not identify me in the new TTM home page. I am second right to the zoftig Peanut girl. Also in answer to..."When I joined KOTV?"   June, 1957! When I drove up from Abilene Texas (KRBC-TV, The "Outhouse of the industry") to audition for Dale Hart, I had to wait for the close of the "Time for Richut Show" with cartoonist Richard Ruhl. The fellow who wore the Claribell Cow costume on that show was Ralph Bardgett. Either he or Dave Davis directed my audition. Lawill ran the boom mike. Don't remember the cameramen! I think I also saw Ruddle's "Space Show" set? (see "Zeta, On Satellite Six"...webmaster)

(from Guestbook 8) John Hillis said:

About Woody and the King: A bad producer's dream--they were slotted each night for 1:45, but could trim it to 30 seconds or, as they did sooo many times when that hour got real long, run it out to 3 and a half minutes, with just two minutes notice in the break before the King's segment.

One of my favorite Lionel raps came during the debate over the City of Faith hospital permit. It went something like:

"I'm not sure about all of this religion stuff. One time I was up in the Cessna at 5,000 feet, and the motor quit. I tried to get it going again, but the plane kept falling, 4,000 feet, 3,000 feet, 2,000 feet. Finally, it got to 1,000 feet, and I said, 'God, you take it!' And He crashed the darn thing!"

Lee & Lionel I've repeated that line for 20 years now to church groups and Sunday School classes. From anybody's else's mouth, the phone lines would have burned up, but out of Lionel, it was a gentle, if pointed, observation.

And if somebody didn't remind you that Lee's brother Morgan Woodward was one of the stars of  "Dallas," well, you hadn't been around Channel 6 for more than 5 minutes.

(from Guestbook 12) Ken Broo said:

Working with Pitcock, Vaughn and Lee was an absolute trip. The newscasts, particularly the 6pm show, were never strictly formatted. We could break format, it seemed, anytime. The highlight was the end of show schtick with Lionel. I tell co-workers today about a newscast that ended with the anchors talking to a puppet and they look at me like I'm crazy.

Lee Woodward is easily the most talented person I've ever worked with. He could have done anything and gone anywhere in television.

My wife was with an ad agency then. She got ahold of the 'Q' ratings, or likeability studies, for local television talent. Lionel was number one. Lee was third. I teased him about that.

I ran into his brother, Morgan, in LA about a year ago and was happy to hear Lee is doing well.

...The 'Moose' return tour, that lasted about a week, was another bizarre KOTV episodes. I think they had him doing commentaries, at the end of the shows. "Kamikaze Television" is how Vaughn referred to it, on Clayton's return from NJ.

Lionel was told not to refer to Pitcock as "Moose" upon Pitcock's return. It was a 'bit' for about two days. After that, "The King" called Bill: "Moooooooster Pitcock". I thought our illustrious management team was going to gag.

Lee and Lionel today, from the KOTV 50th Anniversary Special Lee & Lionel today  See a clip of Lee and Lionel today!

(Video by permission of Steve Warren, KOTV web site producer.)

(from Guestbook 40) Lee Woodward and King Lionel said:

I must say; being new to this Web business, I am overwhelmed at the comments I have read in some of the archives. Some of the names I had forgotten and incidents that have slipped from my memory banks. I also found some errors, but those are easily corrected. For instance. The third puppet's name was "Basil Lionbone." He lived in the dungeon. He and Lionel were the only ones who saw the bear appear in the castle turret from time to time.

Also, the theme music was "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" by Edvard Grieg (click to hear a sample of this piece at Amazon.com...webmaster).

Originally on Decca DL 4923, The Bavarian Symphony Orch., conducted by Kurt Graunke (mono). The other cut on this ten inch album was "Triumphal March from "Sigurd Jorsalfar!" Why can I remember that and not my wife's name?

I won't bore you with further idle chatter at this time. I have a zillion stories, but I will refrain from creating a large book at this time. I was thrilled to see that Ken Broo and Dr. Jim Ruddle have visited this site along with G. Ailard S. Artain and others. I have worked with everyone except Snooky Lansen!

Gary Chew, Lee Woodward and Gailard Sartain
Gary Chew, Lee Woodward and Gailard Sartain

(from Guestbook 14) Gailard Sartain (right) said:

Re: the Great Lee Woodward. Sometimes during the taping of Mazeppa, Lee would be preparing his weathercast and I would invite him to participate. His talent and unique sense of humor were always a welcome addition.

(from Guestbook 14) Lowell Burch said:

I loved Lee and Lionel (with the 3 Stooges) and went down to watch them tape. I was a little disappointed that I could not watch the Stooges shorts in the studio because they were on tape, but I did learn a lot how TV works. I was fascinated with Big Bill and Oom-A-Gog, as well. Not as witty, but very fun. The Mazeppa show may be my favorite because it was so far ahead of its time. I was about 19 when it came out and I was addicted immediately. The earliest few episodes had Lee Woodward and a cute girl that was Sartain's sidekick.

(from Guestbook 14) Mitch Schauer of L.A. said:

Did anyone ever own one of those cool all-terrain cars that travelled along the moat during the Lee and Lionel main title?

Hmmm...like the toy Aqua car that DX gas stations sold? I had one of those once.

(from Guestbook 16) Mike Bruchas said:

The berserk Evershed camera Evershed Power Optics story I got from Lee Woodward.

When 6 did an early morning show in the late 60's they had 1 or 2 cameras on the remote control heads - this was an "economy move" to use less crew.

These were remote tilt/pan/zoom only cameras - unlike those of today that move along a magnetic floorstrip or can truck unattended.

Lee was sitting at the old newsdesk when one of the cameras parked next to the desk to do cross angle shots, lost its "mind" and started banging up and down on the edge of the news desk uncontrollably. I think he lost it and joked he felt like it was going to attack him!

It's hilarious now but back when 6 had only 2 then very expensive Norelco color cameras for all shows, it could have been disasterous.

Lee and the WBAP cowbell
Lee to webmaster, 1/10/2008: "This was in 1954-55 when I was about twenty four. WBAP Radio was top notch. As you can see, all I had to do was flip my mike switch on, the engineer to my right behind the double glass played all the records etc. This should show everyone that there truly was one of these Cooper cowbells underneath every announce station in all the radio studios." Click for larger pic.

(from Guestbook 20) Mike Bruchas said:

The cowbells story reminded me that Lee Woodward said at one time he worked at WBAP radio in Ft.Worth. He said the GM or Program Director were always after him to "ring those bells" I guess on ID's.

(from Guestbook 70) Lee Woodward said:

I remember when WBAP-AM had to give up its 570 channel because the FCC ruled that a newspaper could not have two frequencies in one market. They were actually splitting the day between 820 and 540. They would ring the "cowbell" when making the switch. "This is WBAP 820 (clang, clang, clang). You're now listening to WBAP 570 in Fort Worth."

They gave up 570 to WFAA in Dallas. No more cowbell in Dallas. Believe it or not, they originally were ringing it on FM until the listeners with high-dollar sound systems complained.

(from Guestbook 20) Lowell Burch said:

I remember Lionel getting kidnapped. It was big news. I heard he ended up in Kansas somewhere.

(from Guestbook 38) Roy Byram said:

Cindy reminded me that the original castle for Lee and Lionel's afternoon movie show was retired to her family's garage until it was donated to a day care center in Tulsa. Lionel and Granny Lion (there was a third lion but his name escapes me) ("Basil Lionbone"...per King Lionel, himself!) were also housed at the Vandever home. Some really bad puppet shows were staged for the neighborhood kids in that garage. I read that KOTV let Lee Woodward go in the 80's. That was a big mistake!! ...Some Dun and Bradstreet Bigwig's son that had been fired from a station in Hawaii made a bloody mess of the whole place. He was the cause of my father-in-law retiring early from KOTV's Sales Department. (Note: KOTV is now owned by Griffin Communications, and prior to that, by Belo, Corinthian and Cameron, in reverse order.)

(and from Guestbook 22) Lowell Burch said:

Lee & LionelA little anecdote here on Lee Woodward. While in college, Lee came to sing with our band in a concert. He is an excellent singer. While standing backstage waiting for our turn to go on, I asked him why he got out of TV and started selling cars. "I got tired of starving to death," he quipped.

(from Guestbook 27) CP Neal said:

...But reading the stories about the King brings back this story. KOTV was the first station I worked at and as a young cameraman I tryed to do everything by the book, but the book didn't talk about working with Lee and the King. After awhile the King was so real that you gave him the time cues or talk to him just like all the other talent.

Popeil's Mince-O-Matic
Popeil's Mince-O-Matic: make shoddy Sno-Cones in a jiffy!

Back to main page