Vintage 1950s TV
The Pinky Lee Show
The Pinky Lee Show, was a prime-time variety show that ran for seven months in 1950. This was an attempt to bring energetic, visual burlesque comedians to a new visual medium.
In 1954 Pinky Lee turned to a juvenile audience. Television producer Lawrence White's three kids bugged him relentlessly to put Pinky Lee back on TV. Once The Pinky Lee Show debuted on January 4, it was a big hit for NBC daytime. Pinky opened his show by bursting a balloon and bound onto the set singing his familiar "Yoo-Hoo it's me!" theme song. The half-hour ended in a flurry of gift-giving, screeches, and kiss-throwing. Joining Pinky on the series were regulars Molly Bee (a 14-year-old singer), Jimmy Brown and Barbara Luke.
The frenetic pace of The Pinky Lee Show brought complaints from a number of parents who felt the program was getting their kids all wound up unnecessarily, leading to disciplinary problems at home after the show went off.
In August of 1955, NBC agreed to tone it down and the network's kid show continued on a daily basis.
Pinky was on the air six days a week and rapidly became one of the most popular children's of all time. During an airing of his live program late in 1955. While performing one of his hysterical routines, Pinky Lee collapsed live on the air - stricken by what appeared to be a massive heart attack. It was later said to be a severe sinus attack. Under doctor's orders, the host was forced to take a year off to recuperate. The show continued without Lee until June 1956.
When Lee attempted to return to the tube in 1957, he found an unreceptive climate. He took over the hosting duties on NBC's The Gumby Show on Saturday mornings for a short time in 1957 after the original host, Bobby Nicholson, left the show.
He died on April 3.1993 at home in Mission Viejo of a heart attack. He was 85.