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Rusty's Hour
September/October 1958 - December 1959+? 

Hour-long weekend children's program featuring "Rusty the Clown."

Rusty might not have blown his own horn, but he did honk it!

Who is Rusty the Clown?

Having luncheon at Bart's, I was introduced to "Rusty" the Clown. But this wasn't Rusty, this was Jim Allen. I had seen pictures of both, and seen both in person, though at a distance. Jim didn't make me laugh, Jim didn't wear floppy shoes, a big red nose and clown costume. Rusty did. And Rusty acted like a clown. Jim sat quietly at one corner of the table and said very little; he didn't do any clowning. I made a date to talk with Jim Allen at home the next Sunday. I had to be convinced.

That Saturday I watched “Rusty’s Hour” from 4:00 to 5:00 on KPTV. This was Rusty. He did all the things that a clown is supposed to do. The kids on the show knew it was Rusty--you could see that. I had a picture of Jim, and kept looking at it saying, "This is Rusty . . . this is Rusty!" But I still wasn't able to co-ordinate the two.

Sunday, Georgia met me at the door. To put myself at ease and maybe catch Jim off-guard, so that he would act like Rusty, I started asking questions about the baby (3-months-old Jody Darlene). "She's clowning in her own right," said Jim. "She pays no attention to me. Makeup or no, it makes no difference to her... she's the star." Then he started telling how she affects his role as Rusty. After B. Mike had run a bit on the baby in the Oregonian, requests came to see Jody on the TV show. After that a grandmother wrote asking if "Rusty"—Jim--couldn't help her grandson; he was 7 and afraid of Santa Claus, clowns and all the rest. But the boy adored the baby. So Jim had him up on the program, and by the time the boy left he and "Rusty" were buddies. Other incidents followed. Now Jody, though not seen on-camera, is an icebreaker and a draw for all age groups.

Rusty converses with his puppet friends.

What are children's reaction to "Rusty" I asked. Well, they wonder where he comes from, is he real, can they touch him and he won't disappear. He is the reality of a fantasy, and this is almost unbelievable. They identify him so completely with themselves that they guess his age at around 11, 12, 14-years old. But if they see him without his get-up they won't believe it if told that he is Rusty. He must always be "in character" in every way with children around. Those who do know him in his general neighborhood, will gather to watch him mow his lawn, and he must be "Rusty" while doing it, even if not in costume.

He is "Rusty" 24 hours a day, six days a week. (The seventh day, Sunday, Georgia insists is family day when Jim cares for and feeds the baby.) He makes personal appearances in Oregon and Washington--in full regalia--and has another program in Pasco, Washington. He has found these very important--to him and to the children. Children come up to him, and in a very earnest, confidential tone will tell him "I see you on television," as though it were something new and it was important to let him know. Because of these appearances and the show he gets about 40 letters a day--all of which he and Georgia answer. A file is kept of all these letters and answers.

Rusty and "Vicky" speak as one.

Adult reaction to Rusty is divided. The single or aging group whose children have gone beyond the "clown" stage find him too "childish." But the mothers of youngsters find such things as the children's fairytales before bedtime, wonderful. And they demand the highest caliber of entertainment of a positive kind; when a program visitor initiated a little bit of horseplay--he pulled out a water pistol and shot "Rusty" in the face--Jim received vigorous complaints. The parents wanted no semblance of shoot-'em-ups in a distinctly child's program. So Jim always attempts to live by a code more stringent than even the TV code.

The most frequent remark folks address to Rusty-Jim?

"We see your program. We like it very much, very much… a nice hobby. Now, what do you do for a living?"

Article from TV Prevue Magazine, November 23, 1958

A November 9, 1958 ad for "Rusty's Hour"
in TV Prevue Magazine

Rusty Nails has his own website here: www.rustynails.com

SEP 1958 - APR 1959: SAT 4:00PM-5:00PM
MAY 1959 - SEP 1959: SAT 1:00PM-2:00PM
OCT 1959 - DEC 1959: SAT 11:00AM-12:00N

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This page last updated on March 12, 2005

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