Gene London (born Eugene Yulish in
Cleveland, Ohioin 1931) was the host of a popular, long-running, Philadelphialocal children's show, "Cartoon Corners" (aka "The Gene London Show"). He was tall and slender and had dark hair and a soft spoken manner. He starred on the children's show in the Philadelphia area on WCAU-TV Channel 10 from 1959 to 1977, in which several cartoons, particularly those of Disney, were shown. Early programs began with Gene London opening the door of his General Storeand flipping the sign to read "Open for Business." As the kids passed by Gene, he palmed the tops of their heads and sang the opening theme song. Once inside the General Store, Gene, an accomplished artist and story-teller, told stories and used a large drawing pad to illustrate key scenes and characters from the tales, as children sat around him. With very little budget, he and his cast also did clever interpretations of classic novels such as "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and various Greek myths.
Originally called variously "Gene London's Cartoons & Stuff", "The Wonderful World of Gene London", and "Cartoon Corners", the format for "The Gene London Show" changed over the years. At first Gene worked for a general store that was located next to a confetti factory. His boss was the stingy Mr. Dibley, a.k.a. "Old Dibble-Puss" (who paid Gene 3 ½ cents per week). London's character used his imagination to try to escape his humdrum existence. A
golden fleecehe discovered provided him with a ready source of magic. Gene had a crush on his employer's daughter, Debbie Dibley. Alas, Debbie moved to Hollywood, returning him to his lonely, but imaginative situation. Later the program shifted to the haunted Quigley mansion located next door, accessible via a secret tunnel (the mansion's exterior establishing shot was just a painting) with stories and plots centering around ghosts, UFO, aliens. during this period there were a series of public service exchange programs produced by CBS. In these programs, Gene played a reporter, who went out and got stories from children (trying to improve the paper's circulation).
Earlier in life, Gene aspired to be a Disney artist. An imaginative child, Gene recalled "Alone in my room when all the other kids were playing ball, I'd tell myself the story, acting out all the parts, including
Snow Whitestanding by the side of the well singing, 'I'm Wishing'." On his show, Gene often showcased Disney cartoons and movies. Gene's early career includes stints as a counselor at Summerdale Day Camp just outside Philadelphia where he taught arts and crafts and puppetry; occasional work on NBC-TV's "Hi Mom!" hosted by ventriloquist Shari Lewis; a cast member on the puppet show Johnny Jupiter; as re-ject the robot. he was also a puppeteer on ABC-TV's "Tinker's Workshop" starring Bob Keeshan(a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo) and a number of holiday-themed specials for The Today Show on NBC with Dave Garroway.
When "Cartoon Corners" was cancelled, Gene moved to
New York Cityand became involved in the fashion industry as a dress designer. Until 2001, Gene operated a retro clothes shop called 'Gene London: The Fan Club' on Manhattan's West 19th Street. In later years, Gene served as a Hollywood and Broadway fashion consultant and spokesman for the Mikimotobrand of jewelry. As a hobby, Gene had collected costumes worn by movie celebrities (some 60,000 gowns, dresses and fashion accessories). In July 2002, at the age of 71, Gene exhibited more than 50 pieces of his Hollywood gown collection at "Gene London Presents: Hollywood Glamour" at the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. On May 17, 2003, he once again displayed his gowns at the 80th anniversary celebration of the Old Academy Players in Philadelphia (East Falls), PA. The exhibit included a deep red dress with plunging neckline and fur-trimmed sleeves worn by Philadelphia-bred actress Grace Kelly(a.k.a. Princess Grace of Monaco) in the Oscar-winning film The Country Girl (1954). Gene london was a great gift to the children of the Philadelphia area, his real legacy is all the lives he has touched in such a positve way.
Cartoon Corners Theme Song
Come right into the General Store
We have licorice, gumdrops and sourballs;
Anything you're hankering for,
You'll find in Cartoon Corners General Store.
There's lots of stories and songs that you know,
Toys to build and a big pot belly stove;
Cartoon fun with your favorites so,
Let's ring up the curtain on this show!
There's something else I've forgotten, let's see,
Of course, Gene London, that's me!
* [http://www.tvparty.com/tvp-m/lostlondon2.html TV Party entry] and [http://www.tvparty.com/tvp-m/lostlondon.html TV Party: Letter from Gene London]
* [http://www.tvacres.com/child_genelondon.htm TV Acres entry]
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