Thurl on Television

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Thurl's work for television began in the early 1950s and continued until his death in 2005. He is, of course, remembered as the voice of Tony the Tiger from countless television commercials for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, but he also sang on numerous TV theme songs and even occasionally made on-screen appearances, including spending three years as a regular performer on Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer in the early 1970s. For details about Tony the Tiger along with other ads Thurl recorded, see the Commercials page. Thurl and the Mellomen contributed a lot to Walt Disney's television projects, the details of which are given on the Disney Television page. 

Television Theme Songs
Thurl, as a member of the Mellomen or another group such as the Randy Van Horne Singers, sang on the theme songs for many television shows in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Sportsmen recorded the theme song for the Hopalong Cassidy films in the 1930s and when William Boyd brought Hopalong Cassidy (0:56) to television in 1948, he used the original theme by the Sportsmen for the his TV show.

The Mellomen sang several western themes in the 1950s, of which Cheyenne (1:10), and Bronco (1:12) are good examples. They also sang for, but did not appear in, an episode of Wagon Train called "The Annie MacGregor Story" which aired February 5, 1958.

The Randy Van Horne Singers sang the themes for The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, Magilla Gorilla, and Yogi Bear. They also sang regularly on The Nat King Cole Show in 1957.

Guest Appearances
Thurl made several appearance on television both as a member of the Mellomen and as a solo performer.

All-Star Revue (1952)
One of Thurl's earliest on-screen appearances was an episode of The NBC All-Star Revue hosted by Spike Jones on January 12, 1955 and featuring the Mellomen.

Shower of Stars

Thurl (second from left) with Marguerite Piazza (left)
from Shower of Stars in 1955

Shower of Stars (1955)
Thurl also appeared on Shower of Stars in an episode called "High Pitch" (2:18) that aired May 12, 1955 and starred Tony Martin, Marguerite Piazza, William Frawley, and Vivian Vance. The story revolves around opera star Dorothy Meadows, (Marguerite Piazza), and her purchase of the Hooligans baseball team and her romance with star player Ted Warren (Tony Martin).

Thurl appears several times on the show as various characters from an opera singers to a baseball player. He even sings on Ms. Piazza's rendition of  "Dance with Me Henry". Interestingly, Georgia Gibbs' version, which also featured Thurl, reached #1 on the Billboard charts that week. Max Smith also appeared on the show with Thurl.

The Jack Benny Program (1956)
Thurl had heard on Jack Benny's radio program many times in the late 1930s and early 1940s so it is not surprising that he also appeared on Jack's TV show. Thurl was on the episode "Jack Benny does the Mikado" which ran December 16, 1956.

Lawrence Welk's Top Tunes and New Talent (1956).

Larry Hooper and the Mellomen

From the Lawrence Welk Show: Thurl, Larry Hooper, Bill Lee, Bob Stevens, and Max Smith

The Mellomen appeared on Lawrence Welk's Christmas Eve show on December 24, 1956. They performed the Christmas carol "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" and then were joined by Lawrence Welk regular, Larry Hooper to sing "Jingle Polka" (1:24). Thurl and Larry take turns each singing a line of the verse and are joined by the Mellomen on the chorus.

The Mellomen were guests on Lawrence's show again in 1959.


ThurlBuckskin (1958)
The Mellomen made a brief appearance on the the short-lived western, Buckskin. The show was set in the frontier town of Buckskin, Montana in 1880 and starred Tommy Nolan as ten-year-old Jody O'Connell.

In the episode "A Permanent Juliet" from October 23, 1958, a traveling acting company is passing through town and the Mellomen provide a musical act before the play. They sing "Nellie Bly" and also appear in a scene backstage where Sally (Jennifer West) is auditioning for the part of Juliet. She is hoping to fill in for Diana (Mary Beth Hodges) who has left the company over a dispute with the leader of the show Mr. Harris (John Holland). During this scene, Thurl even recites a line from Romeo & Juliet as he helps Sally remember her next line, which seems to amuse him and the other Mellomen.

Lawrence Welk's Plymouth Show (1959)

The Mellomen

Bill Lee, Max Smith, Bob Stevens, and Thurl

The quartet appeared on Lawrence Welk's Plymouth Show on February 4, 1959. Lawrence had Thurl introduce the group, and they sang the songs "Wilhelmina" (2:44) and "Nellie Bly".

The Mellomen had worked with Lawrence Welk on several records and had appeared on his show a few years earlier. The Mellomen were promoting their Disneyland record Meet Me Down on Main Street and Lawrence mentions it in his introduction for the song "Nellie Bly".

 

The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Show (1962)
The Mellomen made a guest appearance on The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Show, October 20, 1962. On this episode, titled "A Western-Style Minstrel Show", they sang "Lida Rose"

The Danny Kaye Show (1965)
Thurl was part of the chorus on the Danny Kaye Show during the four seasons it aired on CBS in the mid-1960s.

Loulie, Danny, and Thurl

Loulie Jean Norman, Danny Kaye, and Thurl
Thurl

Thurl solos during "Three Part Invention"

He was featured on The Danny Kaye Show on February 17, 1965. Thurl and Loulie Jean Norman joined Danny Kaye to sing "Three Part Invention" (3:46). The piece was devised by the show's choral director Earl Brown. Loulie, Thurl, and Danny sang it again six weeks later on March 31, 1965. This time the song was called "Three Part Invention, the second time around".

Stand Up and Cheer (1971-1973)
Thurl on Stand Up and Cheer Thurl performed for three seasons on the syndicated series Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer.

As a member of the Johnny Mann Singers since the early 1960s, Thurl was asked to be the join the 17 young men and women and that made up Johnny's group for the television show. Johnny gave Thurl the nickname "Pappy" as the senior member of  the group. Variety referred to them as a "mixed choir of bright young faces (and one old pro, Thurl Ravenscroft)".

One notable segment featured Thurl singing "Old Man River" (3:06). For additional information about Thurl's involvement with the Johnny Mann Singers visit the Vocal Groups page.

Other Shows
He was listed in the credits on the Emmy-nominated special They Said it with Music: Yankee Doodle to Ragtime. The two-hour show hosted by Bernadette Peters, Tony Randall, Jason Robards, Jean Stapleton, and Flip Wilson aired on CBS July 4, 1977.

Thurl and Robert SchullerIn the 1970s, Thurl was a frequent soloist on Robert Schuller's Hour of Power broadcast from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. These appearances led to Thurl providing the narration for the annual Glory of Christmas (2:26) pageant, from its beginning in 1981.

Thurl also made an appearance on The Maury Povich Show in the mid 1990s. Along with him were several other voice actors including Don Messick and Jean Vander Pyl.

 

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