(reading time 90 seconds)
I met a childhood TV hero last night: Sonny Fox, star of “Wonderama”,
the four hour weekly Sunday morning kids’ show that ran on WNEW-TV in NYC until
He was in the area flogging a new book, but at age 87 I knew
this would be my first and last chance to meet him. As prep, I scoured YouTube
for old videos of the show, some of which he played at the book reading.
His book talks not only about his days as a kids’ show host
but his career after at NBC where he was producer of Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow
Show”. He also writes eloquently about
his time as a POW in World War II, held in a German camp, and how it changed
his life. Did it ever!
“Wonderama” was not your typical kids show. While Soupy Sales and Chuck McCann were
throwing pies and airing cartoons, Sonny Fox was dressed in a suit and tie,
interviewing kids. Not talking down to
them or making fun of them, interviewing them.
One clip almost brought tears to my eyes.
Sonny was asking kids about God and heaven. A precocious young girl said she visits
heaven every afternoon and plays there with her dead grandmother. Sonny asked if she meant this was in her
prayers, but she said no, she goes to heaven and plays with real people.
Sonny didn’t mock her, he listened to her, treating her with
respect, so she opened up. He told the
audience last night that the little girl’s parents had probably never heard her
say such things.
Was she fantasizing?
Delusional? Who knows. That’s not
for Sonny to judge. He was just asking
And… he was listening!
So many of us, including reporters, could learn a valuable
lesson from Sonny Fox.