Welcome to the official website of Bob McAllister's Wonderama and the documentary, "Kids Are People Too!", which is now available on DVD. To order your copy, send an email to: wonderama1967@gmail.com

I. Introduction

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Wonderama, itself, began in 1955 and had four previous hosts before Bob arrived. The show was broadcast in seven markets across the country: New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.

Bob took over as the fifth and final host of Wonderama on August 13, 1967, which originated from WNEW-TV in New York. The show aired Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (at first it was 3 ½ hours), as Bob would engage his audience in the studio and at home with magic tricks, puppet and comedy skits, songs, stories, games, informational segments, and interviews with celebrity guests.


Bob's version of Wonderama stood out not only for its unique songs, skits and games, but because it was a hip "Tonight Show For Kids", where the biggest stars in the entertainment world would come on the show, including Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark, Muhammad Ali, Evel Knievel, ABBA, Billy Preston, Doug Henning, and Jim Henson, to name just a few. Bob's experience hosting kidshows for over 20 years, along with his easy going demeanor with children, made him everyone's favorite uncle.


Throughout the years, not only did Bob host Wonderama but he was also a professional magician. He even went on the road with his "live" Wonderama show, appearing at school auditoriums. He would also make appearances at local department stores to sign one of his many record albums. Bob was very generous when it came to donating his time to children.

II. The Early Years

- A young Bob McAllister, after making a small name for himself as a magician and ventriloquist in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, went to New York with his favorite vent-figure, Chauncey, and through sheer talent and determination, landed himself on "The Today Show" with Dave Garroway. Bob's act was so good that Garroway got him an audition for Ted Mack of CBS-TV's "Original Amateur Hour" where Bob won second place.

In 1954, after a brief stint in college, Bob eventually won a job at TV station WVEC in Norfolk, Virginia, where he worked at several jobs, including programming director. When the station needed a children’s TV program for their weekday morning schedule, they hired Bob to host "Ranch House Tales" for $50.00 a week.

In 1956, Bob joined WTAR-TV in Norfolk, Virginia where he hosted “The Bozo Show" (as Bozo!), and "The Bob And Chauncey Show" (pictured above). It was during these early years that Bob created most of his memorable puppet-characters including "The Nudnicks" which were made out of wooden plungers!

III. WJZ

-Bob joined WJZ-TV Channel 13 in Baltimore, Maryland in October 1963 and served as comedy assistant, puppeteer and magician on, “The Lorenzo Show” (weekday mornings), which eventually became “The Bob McAllister Show” where he performed comedy skits, puppet skits, magic tricks, and songs in-between cartoon reruns.

Besides “Chauncey“, Bob worked with many puppet figures including “Seymour Snake” who gave the daily weather forecast and "Quigley the Cartoon Keeper" which was actually a nutcracker. Other characters from Bob’s creative mind were the country bumpkin “Thurman“, silent twin clowns “Willy Winkie & Billy Blinkie”, and “Mr. Grandy” the janitor.


Another popular character on the show was Bob's portrayal of mild-mannered “Melvin Frump“ who would transform into the mighty superhero “Mike Fury“ (pictured above), who always proclaimed that he was "courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, friendly, brave, and a goody". Bob continued to host his own kidshow at WJZ-TV until the summer of 1967, when his efforts came to the attention of one of the executives at WNEW-TV Channel 5 in New York.

IV. Wonderama

-Wonderama was in need of a new host to succeed Sonny Fox who was leaving, so Bob went to New York to audition for the show and moved there in August 1967 once he got the gig. The shooting schedule consisted of 8-hour tape days, which was staged at WNEW Metromedia television studios at 205 East 67th Street in New York, just a few blocks away from the old Jim Henson shop. Most of the characters from Bob’s old WJZ show were also featured on the show, such as "Zip Code", "Thurmin", and "The Crazy Magician".

Bob's catchy and unforgettable songs, such as "Kids Are People Too", "Exercise", and "The Fingleheimer Stomp" became favorite parts of the show. The music was a perfect blend with such games as "Snake Cans", "Tongue Twisters", and "Guess Your Best". It's no surprise that Wonderama became New York city's most popular TV kidshow. For most of his run, Bob owned the Sunday morning airways, attracting half the Sunday morning audience, according to Nielsen ratings.

Two of Bob's favorite episodes of Wonderama was when legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and his nemesis Joe Frazier came on and shot a game of marbles right before their big fight (pictured above). The second was when one of Bob's idols, Jim Henson, came on and performed with a new muppet (pictured below).

For ten years, Bob enthusiastically entertained the Wonderama studio audience and home viewers in-between all the cartoon reruns. Unfortunately, the show's final episode was broadcast on December 25, 1977. Metromedia attributed the cancellation to a ratings decline that had left the show with a meager 36-percent of the audience. Bob left the show due to creative differences with station management.


V. Kids Are People Too

-Bob tried to continue the magic of Wonderama when he signed on to host ABC TV's Sunday morning series Kids Are People Too in 1978 (pictured above). The format was very similar to Wonderama in terms of celebrity guests and musical performers, but Bob's trademark songs and games were not part of the network's vision. Kids Are People Too was aimed more at teens (not children) and Bob's differences with the series' producers and network execs eventually led to Bob's departure from the show in November 1978 and he was replaced by two younger hosts.

In later years, Bob was honored by The Society of American Magicians, taught magic at adult classes at Stuyvesant High School, and reached a new generation of children through his educational video, ''Bob McAllister's Amazing Magic".

Always a child at heart, Bob made the rounds of Manhattan magic supply shops on roller skates. He even ran his own rink, “The People Palace”. On July 21, 1998, Bob passed away at the age of 63.

Looking back, Wonderama was truly an amazing show, finding its way into the lives of many people despite being seen, for the most part, only on local New York television. It was an important show for kids, because it made implicit the idea that "kids were people too". Like Art Linkletter before him, Bob was great with kids and he was the next best thing to Santa Claus.