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Sunday, October 12, 2008


In 1940 a gift of a Charlie McCarthy was given Terry as a gift by his uncle for his birthday. About 4 years later he was already entering talent contests and winning. While still in his teens he was doing the Arthur Godfrey show as well as the Kate Smith show. In his 20s he was the opening act for some of the biggest names in show business in some of the greatest venues in the country. During this time he befriended Frank Marshall, one of the countrys best Puppet makers., for which Red Flannels was created for Terry. While serving in the Army during WW2 he served in France and of course Red Flannels came with him. While on tour in Canada Terry honed an act that was to make him a standout on Chicagoland Television,WBKB, of course that was Jobblewocky Place, which he created produced and wrote. After doing some work for the station in a similar capacity As if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he also created the familiar logo for the ABC-TV network and promoted the network's many offerings including Maverick and Tennessee Ernie Ford's variety/music hour.

He introduced to his young television audience a stable of ventriloquial and hand puppet characters including Timothy Timber ( a sailor character and another Frank Marshall creation); Uncle Louie ( a talking picture); Mr. Head (a box with a voice); Mr. Engineer; Bertram Turtle (the largest and sleepiest turtle); and Rusty Hinges (an angry little boy), also a Frank Marshall original.
Airing weekday mornings from 8 to 9, the preschool program earned several awards including three nominations for Emmys. After leaving Chicago he moved to NYC for WPIX and from 1962-7 he produced many shows, included were Lets Have Fun, Red Flannels and Rusty Hinges were there as wellIn later weeks, the roster would include many of the characters created on Jobblewocky Place, as well as The Talking Shoe ("Shoes have tongues", Bennett points out, so they should be able to talk"); The Moon Man; Hugo, The Answer Hand (the smartest glove in captivity); Peter Parrot (who tries to repeat everything you teach him); Three Smart Men (three talking disembodied heads on a shelf); and others. As if history was repeating itself, Bennett earned and achieved the same respect and admiration in New York as he did back in his days at WBKB. Proud to have him as one of their "top" children's personalities which also included "Capt." Jack McCarthy, Hank Stohl (of The Surprise Show), and Carol Corbett, WPIX promoted Bennett and the others in a huge pre-Christmas advertising campaigned sponsored by Remco Toys. But by 1967, changes were in the wind again. Joy Bennett remembers...
Terry went on to do commercials till 1970s and after a long illness passed on to the big vent heaven in the sky. Red Flannels is kept safe in Vent Havens Museum He began in New York, moved to the Windy City in the 1950s where he became on of the most beloved and popular children's show hosts. He also created an atypical character for a late night horror movie show which gained him the admiration of the teenage set and night owl TV viewers. Lightning struck twice when he returned to New York. Terry Bennett's short life spawned a whirlwind of original ideas, creative characters, and imaginative productions. Over the years, Bennett's Chicago work has been largely forgotten, perhaps due to Joy Bennett's retirement from the business, losing contact with old friends and colleagues. Indeed, Jobblewocky Place and The Wacky World of Mr. B. were sadly absent from Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications grand opening of their permanent exhibit honoring the pioneers of Chicago children's television in April 2001. Terry and Joy Bennett seem to fill that bill. The Video Veteran hopes this retrospective helps in some small way. I was delighted to find some of this information about Terry and I hope you all enjoy and remember a lot of his stuff, if you do it would be a great addition to an already fabulous career.

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