Mr. Peppermint, Slam Bang Theater and Icky Twerp, Mickey and Michelle Mudturtle. If you are of a certain age and grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth television market, those characters will ring a bell.
They were part of the locally produced children’s TV show lineup in the days when stations generated a lot more of their content locally.
They were part of Saturday mornings and after-school TV watching, along with cartoons like Popeye, Felix the Cat and Hercules.
If you are a close reader of our obituaries, you know that the actress who played Michelle Mudturtle passed away recently. Janet McGill Faubion, the puppeteer for Michelle, lived out her final days in Quitman.
After seeing that connection, I did a little research (by Googling) and found an article about Janet McGill (before she was married to Ray Faubion) that talked about her drive from her hometown in Denton to the Dallas TV studio to play her role as a puppeteer for the Mickey and Michelle Mudturtle Show.
It turns out, Janet lived in Denton at the same time my family moved there. In fact, the newspaper article was published the very week we moved.
She was also a Methodist and attended North Texas State (now UNT), so there is a good chance we attended the same church, or she participated in events at the Methodist student center where my dad was the director.
She later received a doctorate at North Texas just a couple years before my Mom received hers.
Small world indeed.
And this information also cleared up something that has been a mystery to me all these years.
A friend used to sing the mudturtle birthday song, to the tune of “London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”
“Mickey and Amanda say; Happy birthday.”
I never knew who Amanda was, because it was always Mickey and Michelle during my viewing years.
Turns out Amanda Possum was Mickey’s first TV puppet partner and was replaced by Michelle when Amanda left the show after several years – which was sometime before we moved from East Texas into the Dallas TV market.
And for the record, there were four black-and-white TV channels in those days: CBS (4), NBC (5), ABC (8) and the independent station (11) which carried many of those locally produced shows. Just Google Icky Twerp if you want some interesting history – real name Bill Camfield.
Janet continued to use her puppet, as well as musical skills, long after her TV career ended, entertaining nursing home residents.
She was also a classroom and Sunday school teacher and gave of herself in so many other ways.
It sounds as if she was an interesting lady. Thanks for those long-ago memories.