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Popeye's Pier 12/The Ramblin' Rod Show 1964-1969

Taking over where Addie Bobkins left off, Rodney Andersen, a.k.a. Ramblin' Rod Anders brought his own unique style and personality to Popeye's Pier 12.  Popeye cartoons were a monster hit for KPTV in the early 1960s, firmly 
anchored on KPTV's early-evening schedule. Rod's youthful good-looks, guitar strumming and gentle good-nature soon established him as one of Channel 12's most popular on-air personalities (second, perhaps, only to genial Gene Brendler.)

Ramblin' Rod on the original Pier 12 set, circa 1965. The vest
and tie were Rod's standard attire for the first several years of
the show.

During the 1960s, Rod's outfit would change, becoming less staid, and (dare we say it) a little sexier. On TV, turtleneck sweaters were the attire of swingers and beach-based private eyes, but for Ramblin' Rod, it helped to create a rapport with the children who waited impatiently to visit his show. Of course, Popeye cartoons remained the staple of the program, some of them dating back to the early part of the century. But as an entertainer, Popeye could hold nary a candle to the show's real star.

As the decade came to a close, Ramblin' Rod's appeal so dominated the local children's TV scene, that the decision was soon made to rename the program "The Ramblin' Rod Show."

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Ramblin' Rod
from an interview in TV-Radio Mirror Magazine, June 1965

He's crazy about children, he loves working with them, so, being a smart apple, he maneuvered himself a job where he gets to have them around him. We're talking about Ramblin' Rod Anders of KPTV in Portland, Ore., host of "Touche Turtle and Friends" and "Popeye's Pier 12," both entertainment for the younger set.

Animal magnetism: Ramblin' Rod sings along with the other "stars" of his show: Wally Gator, Lippy Lion and Touché Turtle

It's a good thing Rod likes kids, because he has five of his own-Stephanie, 11; Vincent, 9; Karla, 7; Robyn, 2; and Dana, the baby--apart from the constant group of neighborhood moppet visitors and friends. He and his wife, Pati, live in a big comfortable house, furnished in five-children style with early American overtones. The "early American" comes from Rod's second big hobby.

The first is cars. He's car crazy, is presently driving his twenty-fourth automobile. He swapped for his first when he was fifteen, before he was able or legally old enough to drive, so it had to sit in the driveway, where he painted and polished it until his sixteenth birthday. Since then he's had everything from a '34 Chevy to his present car, including, at one point, a Model-A Ford and a very elegant, if slightly obsolete, Cadillac 60 Special. Pati says she never knows what will pull into the driveway at night.

Rod signs autographs after the show for a crowd of adoring fans.

The other big hobby is bargain-hunting at auctions, antique shops and just plain junk shops, and the fruits thereof are to be seen throughout the Anders domicile. For instance, a beautiful old grandfather's clock, auction purchased, sits right next to a refinished table obtained for Rod forgets how much under ten dollars--junk shop bargained. Rod says he once reached up to scratch his ear at an auction, and discovered he'd bought a desk chair. Pati found a place for it and it looks lovely.

That's for Mama and Papa. The kids have their own hobby--bantam chickens. A rooster and his harem of five hens. They're all tame and children-broken and the Anders kids dress them in doll clothes, take them for rides in the station wagon, carry them around on their heads.

And if it's sometimes a little disconcerting to strangers to meet a small girl wearing a hen, Rod doesn't worry about that too much. "The kids enjoy it, the bantams enjoy it, it does no harm, so why not?" Why not indeed?

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The musical stylings of Ramblin' Rod were a staple through the
1960s, and children were encouraged to sing-along.


An early, behind-the-scenes view shows just how cramped the bleachers
could get.


In show business, there's a warning about being
on TV with dogs and children, but Rod had
plenty of both, and always managed to outshine
them.


Wally Gator and Popeye were popular
attractions during the early years, but neither
was as animated as the program's host.


Classic Bugs Bunny cartoons were run and rerun (and rerun), but 
kids never seemed to tire of them.


The set, circa 1968. Rod's outfit changed to a jacket and
turtleneck sweater, but the guitar--and singing--remained.
Visiting
Popeye's Pier 12 soon became as much a part of the
cub scouts (seated in the back row) as merit badges and
popsicle stick baskets.


From April 1968, Rod poses with his trusty boat.  Rod would
"ride" the craft off camera at the end of each show. To the
untrained eyes of small children, it appeared that the ship
was actually carrying Ramblin' Rod off stage. In reality, however,
the boat had an open space on the floor and small wheels, which
allowed Rod to gently push the boat as he walked.


Popeye's Pier 12 was the children's show in
Portland during the 1960s, a life-saver for both
Rod Anders' career, and the now-independent
KPTV.


Even Rod's mischievous sidekick "Petunia the Skunk" couldn't
overpower the sweet smell of success.


Built around the "Popeye" cartoons, Pier 12 dominated the
children's TV scene in the 1960s.


An able musician, Rod often played guitar for his audience.
Sometimes, for a Christmas episode (when no children would
be available to appear on the show) he would spend the entire
half-hour singing and strumming.


As the decade came to a close, Popeye's Pier 12 became The
Rambiln' Rod Show, reflecting the enormous popularity of
the program's host.

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This page last updated on September 17, 2005

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