Dave Lee and Pete the Penguin. Photo courtesy of Museum of Broadcasting
Those who grew up around here in the 1960s likely recall Dave Lee, whose afternoon kids’ TV show featured puppets Pete the Penguin, Omar the Alligator and Fragrant the Skunk. Lee died a few weeks ago in his California home, according to the latest newsletter from the Museum of Broadcasting. He was 86.
Lee was at Channel 9 from 1958-60 and then did several years at Channel 11, back when it was WTCN, in the 60s. The show went by several names but probably is best remembered as either "The Dave Lee Show" or "Popeye and Pete," when they were slinging Popeye cartoons. I always remembered it as "Dave Lee and Pete" although that was never the official name.
Lee had a live studio audience of kids and he and Pete (Lee’s right arm) would introduce each one. Pete would pull girls’ ponytails and boys’ ties. Yes, in those days, if you were going on TV, you wore a tie.
The most memorable part of the gig was when Dave asked one lucky youngster to unpack the "Grab Bag" and tell the unfortunate kids stuck at home what goodies there were, and they were always the same: "Orange Drink, TV Times, Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy...."
Lee left his show in 1970 and went to work fulltime in public relations and fundraising in Minneapolis and then in the Southwest and California. He lived for a number of years in San Diego and died in Westminster, Calif.