UNCLE AL AND CAPTAIN WENDY

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1935 Al Lewis starts taking accordion lessons. He later takes up the banjo, guitar accordion and piano. He is most often associated with the accordion.

1943 Al graduates from high school and is drafted into the infantry division of the army. He serves at Camp Kroft in Baltimore and Camp Adair in Oregon as a special-services entertainer. Film makers shooting footage for the movie "This is the Army Mr. Jones" include Al in a musical comedic sketch, but the scene is not used in the final version of the film.

1945 Gifted in both art and music, Al attends Cleveland School of Art by day and entertains in Cleveland area restaurants with his accordion by night. He also announces a classical music program on an FM radio station.

Wanda and Al meet in one of the drawing classes at the Cleveland School of Art.

1949 May- Al Lewis is hired as the first art director of fledgling television station WCPO Channel 7 (See 1953). It would later become Channel 9.

July- Wanda and Al are married. A few weeks later, WCPO goes on the air in Cincinnati, OH. Mort Watters, the station's first general manager, asks Al to fill in an hour playing the accordion. Soon Al is a regular from 11 p.m. to midnight with a musical program called "Club Till Midnight" with an orchestra, a girl singer, and songs requested by phone.

Wanda is also hired at WCPO-TV; She is on the Paul Dixon Show, a disc jockey program, where she draws and does pantomimes to music.

One show has a space city theme, for which Wanda dons a cape and short skirt and the name Captain Windy. Dixon had Jokingly called Wanda "The Windy One" because she was so quiet, and the name stuck.

1950 The Uncle Al Show makes its debut on June, 12.

At that time Al Lewis, the show's host, was the star of another WCPO television program called Al's Drugstore. Viewers would call the station requesting Al to play songs on the accordion. Children from the neighborhood began to wander into the studio during Al's program and because of his love for children, Al invited them to join him. The children would return every morning bringing more friends, and they soon started singing and dancing with Al.

The children dubbed Al Lewis "Uncle Al" and it wasn't long before Mothers began to call to get tickets to "The Uncle Al Show."

1953 Channel 7 changes to Channel 9.

1956 Wanda Lewis, Al's wife, joins the show as Captain Windy, drawing pictures for the children and handling many of the educational aspects of the program.

1957 The Uncle Al Show incorporates a magic farm and circus set. It features drawings by Captain Windy, cartoons, and a new member of the staff Larry Smith, a puppeteer and character actor.

1957-1958 The Uncle Al show is broadcast nationally on ABC from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday mornings on 130 stations coast to coast.

1959 Tom York replaces Larry Smith as the character actor and puppeteer. He plays interesting characters such as the Scarecrow, Cowboy, and Clown.

1970s Uncle Al and Captain Windy are a regular act on stage at intermission at the Ice Capades.

1972 Jack Williams joins the Uncle Al Show and plays 16 different characters on the program.

1973 The set is changed to Uncle Al's House in the Magic Forest and a new character, Mr. Patches (Tom McGreevey), is added to the show's staff.

1974 The show is given a more educational format. Over the years many local people and sites were on the show such as the Cincinnati Zoo, the Police and Fire Departments, the community's park system, the Natural History Museum, nutrition specialists, and educators. With all of these enrichment programs the Uncle Al Show never lost the fantasy, fun, and music that children loved.

1975 The Uncle Al Show is the first live television show to broadcast from the new Riverfront Coliseum, and plays to a packed crowd.

1979 The Lewises move from their home of 20 years in the Watch Hill-area of Cincinnati to a 236-acre farm in Hillsboro, Ohio.

1985 The Uncle Al Show leaves the air, holding the record of the longest-running children's program on commercial television (1950-85). Al stays on as art director. Wanda continues in the promotions department and announces upcoming community calendar events.

1989 The Lewises retire from WCPO Channel 9. A sunny front room in their home has been transformed into an art studio for Al's landscape oil paintings and Wanda's still-life and landscape watercolor paintings.

1997 Al Plans to become famous as having made the first film of George Clooney. He is negotiating with a documentary company over the brief footage of a seven-year-old Clooney playing the role of ship's captain for an Uncle Al Show segment.

Wanda continues as a prolific artist in both watercolor and pen and ink, displaying her works at local art shows and restaurants.

 

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