Sunday, August 7, 2011

Own a piece of the 1976 Krofft Theme Park

You can own a piece of the World of Sid & Marty Krofft theme park from 1976. I'm selling off one of the rare and unusual Fidelipac cartridges on Ebay. The auction ends August 15th, 2011 at 07:00 PM Pacific (10PM Eastern). This cartridge features the audio from the famed Pinball Ride (labeled "Tunnel #1"). The winner not only gets the tape, but the converted MP3 audio file.

You can read an earlier blog entry about these unusual tapes and how they were rescued from the trash heap 30 years ago here. It even contains a video / audio clips from a few of these tapes..

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Empire at 30

STARWARS.COM has recently unearthed an interesting pop culture relic as part of their 30th anniversary tribute to The Empire Strikes Back... recordings from a telephone advertising campaign from 1980. They were apparently discovered on a very old cassette tape recording (most likely the only copy left) from someone involved in the campaign. In what seems a bit silly by today's standards, in 1980 anxious fans had very few options to get news about the latest installment of Star Wars. The 800 number was an innovative solution. I remember hearing about this at the time, but I have no recollection of ever calling... unlike my many fruitless calls to get my voice on the Dr. Demento Show...

Monday, February 15, 2010

World of Sid & Marty Krofft speaks again

I'm a Krofft fan... have been since I was a kid. For those of you who don't know what I mean, "Krofft" refers to the brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, television and movie producers who had a string of hits through the 1970s. Sid was the visionary... the dreamer... the idea man. Marty was the business end of the family... for him it was all about the bottom line. Together they complimented each other... a "ying" to the other's "yang".

The 70s were a time when Sid & Marty Krofft dominated children's programming. They brought us such classics as Land of the Lost, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters and Lidsville. To say they dominated is not an understatement... at one point they actually had their shows on two different networks, at the same time... competing with each other. Somewhere between creating those classic programs (and some utterly forgettable ones as well), Sid and Marty concocted the idea to build The World of Sid & Marty Krofft, in indoor renaissance theme park, with mimes, story tellers, artists and rides.

Okay, hindsight is 20/20, an indoor theme park in a rundown section of Atlanta? But in 1975 nobody was willing to bet against them... They owned children's television and they were about to embark on a bold cross-marketing move to tie the new park with their latest Krofft TV venture... The Krofft Super Show.

Unfortunately Sid's vision could not sustain itself and the park folded after 6 months of poor attendance. The closing left a lot of bad blood between the Kroffts, their employees and the investors. Lawsuits caused the park to sit empty for years, home to only the rats and homeless who were able to sneak in. Eventually the courts allowed the investors to sell the salvage rights to recoup some of their loss. Most of the park was trashed and what was salvageable was sold off to collectors... Crystal Carousel pieces, costumes, games, props, etc. Little of anything is left except vague memories and the occasional souvenir that pops up on Ebay from time to time.

As I said earlier, I'm a Krofft fan and I have been fascinated with the park for many years. In 2006, almost 30 years to the day the World of Sid & Marty Krofft theme park closed, I received a package from an acquaintance in Georgia that contained long lost audio cartridges from the fabled Pinball Ride... rescued from a trash heap way back in 1980. The tapes, old Fidelipak cartridges (, were labeled with plain stickers but enticing names like "fuses", "Mirror Room", and "Pinball Waiting Room". Unfortunately the Fidelipak system is mostly a dead technology, so finding a working player turned out to be more of a chore than I expected. With persistence I finally managed to get them converted and for the first time in more than 30 years, here are a couple excerpts from those nearly lost tapes (along with some rare images from the park)... sounds from the World of Sid & Marty Krofft…

The first two audio clips are from the Pinball ride waiting room, the third and fourth clips are from two different tunnels on the Pinball ride, and the last one is from the mirror room.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monster Squad on DVD

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but never got around to it. On June 23 one of my favorite, seldom seen, children television show was finally released to DVD. The Monster Squad is a live-action, Saturday morning program that featured Fred Grandy (aka Gopher on the Love Boat) and a cast of superhuman wax monsters that come to life at night to fight crime. Originally aired on NBC in 1976 it hasn't been seen much since then, at least in the US.

I don't know the source material used, but I doubt they pulled these from the original film negatives. The sound is a bit muffled in some episodes and the picture grainy, and no real extras to speak of. Too bad... I have a bunch B&W film negatives and color slides I would have been happy to share. With that said, I'm still ecstatic that these were finally released, considering the fact that fan copies circulating over the years are completely unwatchable. I'm looking forward to other D'Angelo releases (Big John, Little John - Oct 2009) hopefully coming soon.

I do take some small satisfaction in helping to get it finally released, although some would say I had no bearing in the matter. A friend of mine who has made finding Monster Squad episodes a life-long obsession had tracked down producer Bill D'Angelo many years ago to see what the ownership status was... Reportedly, Bill claimed to have the original film negatives stored in his basement, along with most of his other early Saturday Morning shows. My friend made many calls to both Bill and his lawyer over several years to urge them to do something with the shows. D'Angelo and his lawyer eventually stopped taking his calls and then in 2002 (June 22) Bill died at age 70, along with hope of ever seeing Monster Squad.

As many of you know, BCI had obtained the distribution rights to the Filmation library in the US and did a great job with the sets it released. I contacted someone affiliated with BCI and suggested they investigate getting the DVD rights to the D'Angelo library. Surprisingly they were looking for new libraries to tap and asked for any contact information I could provide. I gave them everything I had and told them to contact my obsessed Monster Squad friend for more info.
There you have it. Okay, it's not like I did anything above and beyond what any self-respecting fan boy would have done, but let me have my victory, please.

Rumor has it that BCI approached D'Angelo's son and expressed an interest in the programs. Apparently not happy with the offer (or the terms), Bill Jr. began shopping around for other distribution deals... eventually going with Virgil Entertainment.

BCI went out of business at the beginning of this year after a great run of Filmation DVD sets, which was too bad... I'm convinced they could have produced awesome sets of D'Angelo material.

Brady Fanaticism

Fans of ephemeral 70s pop culture should know that there’s a new book out that takes Brady Bunch fanaticism to a new level… a 340 page book about the 9 episode flop known as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Amazingly this book contains hundreds of never before seen photos and artwork (which remarkably escaped the furnace) and interviews with what seems to be nearly every living person who ever worked on the program. Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour is veritable encyclopedia of lost Brady knowledge. It catalogs, in all it’s glittery, sequin-laced, gory detail the fiasco that what would one day be called by many the worst show in television history (TV Guide was extremely kind by awarding it a noble “4th worst show ever” award).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the BBVH, think of the Brady’s… uh, think of Donny & Marie… uh, think of disco… aw, forget it, there really isn’t a fair comparison. The premise is Mike and Carol pack up the kids and Alice and move to California to start their own variety television show, which will not only feature their inability to sing and dance, but highlight their total lack of basic sketch comedy. Sounds like a ratings winner to me. Quick, get me Sid and Marty Krofft!

Guest stars are paraded across the program with reckless abandon… pop star Tina Turner, aging Milton Berle, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, Donny & Marie, Farah Fawcett, Lee Majors, the Kids from What’s Happening, Tony Randall and HR Pufnstuf just to name a few. Love to Love You Bradys coincides with (and perhaps even undermines) the 40th anniversary of the debut of the original Brady Bunch show, by highlighting the seldom seen, dirty little secret hiding in their collective closet. The authors of LOVE TO LOVE YOU BRADYS are Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) the youngest cast member, and pop culture historians Ted Nichelson and Lisa Sutton. While there is no shortage of content for even the most avid fan, I was struck by the eye-popping background artwork that really brings each page alive. Kudos for producing a book that caters to both the casual as well as the die-hard fan.

LOVE TO LOVE YOU BRADYS is a fascinating study in how a television show goes from vision to production and onto the air. Right down to its glittery-textured cover, it’s also a lesson in how to avoid a disaster, as Susan Olsen laments in the forward, “The memory should be kept alive to assure that this will never happen again.”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The 70s Are Still Alive

Happened across an interesting shop in Universal Studios CityWalk that sell some pretty wicked 70s style candles, dripping (pun intended) with nostalgia. When lit, the inside of the candle glows. I finally decided on the gem above. You can check them out on-line at or visit them at the Endangered Species Store at Universal Studios CityWalk, Orlando to get your own piece of the 70s, dig?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hahn's Shoe Stores

Hahn's Shoes had been a fixture in Washington DC since the late 1800s. The shot above is from their store at 7th and K Street in the early 1920s. Not quite sure what ever happened to it... seems it merged a few times and then sometime in the mid-1990s went out of business... Seems this building is no more as well... If anyone has the history, let me know.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Here's a couple Christmas themed spots from 1970. The first is a TV station animation package that local affiliates used to put their logos on. Not sure if these were just time-fillers. The second is a Goodyear record promotion for the Great Songs of Christmas... and you thought they only made tires and blimps.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I don't want to grow up...

With Christmas fast approaching I’ve decided to post some rare toy commercials from my favorite decade, the 70s. To kick things off, how about one of the earliest examples of a Toys R Us commercial. This ad aired in 71-72 timeframe when Toys R Us was owned by Interstate Stores. Interstate, which already owned several other chains (White Front and Topps Department Stores and Children's Bargain Town USA) purchased Toys R Us from founder Charles Lazarus in 1967. During this timeframe, Interstate was expanding its operations aggressively with stores in Washington DC and Baltimore markets. Lazarus remained to run the stores, eventually becoming CEO in the mid-70s, outlasting Interstate’s bankruptcy and re-emergence as Toys R Us, Inc. You can read an excellent summary of the history of Toys R Us over at the Pleasant Family Shopping Center’s blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google - Life

Google never ceases to amaze me. This past week they announced a deal to put Life’s image archive on the web… 10 million photographs… of which 97% have never been seen before now. Photos include now famous photographers like Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange. You can check out the stunning collection here.