Celebrating 70 years of Colorforms

When assisting in kindergarten in past years, the kids would share their version of colorforms with me knowing it was my favorite game to play as a child myself. But just last week I walked into a kids store and there they were…the original colorforms…dressing up for the weather just like when I was kid in the 1960’s but modernized. I also remember dressing up Tammy, the Beatles in 1964 and for the boys they gravitated to Batman and Scooby Do. In the 1990’s, my son enjoyed Colorfoms when he wanted to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Curious George. Colorforms is easy with shapes cut from vinyl and can cling to a smooth background making your own special design. Colorforms is one of the most loved and respected toys beginning with the couple Harry and Patricia Kislevitz in 1951.

The first Colorforms® set was hand-cut: a thimble, a bottle, and a medicine container top were just some of the shapes that would become the foundation of the very first Colorforms set, designed by Patricia, and now housed in the Museum of Modern Art in its permanent collection. Colorforms® first launched through FAO Schwarz.  Colorforms first launched through FAO Schwarz and in 1957 Popeye became the first licensed cartoon character to be featured in a Colorforms set.

In the 2000’s, though Internet use boomed, Colorforms came alive with Harry Potter, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer and the Hungry Caterpillar. In 2011, Time magazine awarded Colorforms as the toy of all time. In 2014, Out of the Blue Enterprise acquired Colorforms. Billions of sets have been sold and Colorforms continues to make the best plastic creative toys and I continue to gravitate towards any student who is playing with a set. I can’t wait to play.

Chicago’s Frazier Thomas at Christmas

For me, it began with sitting in front of the small TV in the den. I had a card table and chair that was set up so I could do a paint by number from Bargain town with a small glass of 50/50. I loved paint by numbers….still do…and my father knew the owner of 50/50. It was here that I first met Frazier Thomas and his puppets. Garfield Goose and Friends, created by Thomas, aired at approximately for 4 or 5 central time, right before dinner in Chicago.

Frazier Thomas created Garfield Goose the puppet and the show. It began on other stations but in 1955, they found a permanent spot at WGN and became Garfield Goose and Friends. He wrote it and produced the long running Chicago childrens show. This was my favorite show and host of several cartoons. This site offers the best memories of cartoons and live action segments which included Clutch Cargo, Space Angel, Pow-Wow the Indian Boy, Spunky and Tadpole, The Funny Company, My favorite was Journey to the Beginning of Time.

During the holidays, Suzy Snowflake, UPA’s Frosty the Snowman.and The Three Little Dwarfs (Hardrock, Coco and Joe) were Chicago children’s TV christmas hosted on Garfield Goose. Suzy Snowflake is a song that was originally made famous by Rosemary Clooney. Here comes Suzy Snowflake dressed in a snow white gown will stay with me always. It was a short black and white cartoon with stop motion animation made about snowflake in 1953.

Suzy Snowflake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaUBpsn4QjQ

Thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump, look at Frosty go is how I will remember the first Frosty produced in 1950. Made by Castle films, you can play it over and over hearing the lyrics match those precious memories watching on television as well as airing on Bozo’s Circus in 1955.

Frosty the Snowman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SocOdoXKYY

Finally, The Three Little Dwarfs was about three of Santa’s helpers who ride on Santa’s sleigh each Christmas produced in black white in 1951. Joe is extremely tiny and has a very low, deep voice which I remember the most. For some reason, Santa had a wierd expression and cartoon was improving rapidly at the time though sitting in front of the black and white television as a child was still the only choice for late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Hardrock, Coco and Joe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfQoZCCU4-k

When I became a little older on a Sunday afternoon, it was the family’s favorite, Family Classics which began in 1962 which showed classic films such as the Adventures movies that included Huckleberry Finn, one I loved, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Thomas actually produced the show and edited them so that they were appropriate for viewing. At Christmas time, it was Scrooge, or the Christmas Carol though now Christmas, I always liked Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

When Frazier suddenly passed away in 1985. He actually had a stroke and was at work when it happend. Roy Leonard became the host of Family Classics which had a regular run up until December 25, 2000. At that point Family Classics was no longer on the air. In 2017, Family Classics was brought back with a special Christmas time showing of Scrooge (1951) hosted by Dean Richards.

Kaye Kraus offers some wonderful Chicago television photos.