What were you up to in 1969? Here is what we were doing.

Ruth aged nine with pointer on the rebus board, Cheri aged six dancing and the 20th Century Fox and Willy the Wolf perform I M 4 U during the Clampett Family puppet Show.


In September 1969 our dad Bob Clampett came to us with a proposal. A club resort in Indian Wells California wanted a Christmas show for their members and were willing to pay a sizable fee to have the Clampett puppets appear. Dad would accept the offer and give all the money to us kids Ruth, Cheri and Rob under the condition that we treat this as a serious commitment. We would have to rehearse every day after school up until the performance on Christmas Eve.

After considering the pros and cons a bit we all accepted. The experience turned out to be one of the best that we can all remember. Why? First of all, it was a great family experience. Our mom Sody was also actively involved. She helped work the puppets. Even our grandmother Dossie got involved by sewing our costumes and the stage curtains. Most significant it was the first time that we could see our dad for an extended period of time in his element. Bob Clampett gave this little puppet show his full attention as the director. He envisioned it as a show of puppets, live action and even a full sized Willie the Wolf in a full body suit. He put together a pre-recorded track that really worked as a musical comedy live show. He opened the show with his big guns Beany and Cecil and Clowny doing a comedy bit from the puppet era of Time For Beany where they teased the audience by having Clowny pretend there was not anybody in the audience. Then Alvin and the Chipmunks did their Christmas song. These were the same puppets that dad used on the Ed Sullivan Show with Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian. A Maurice Chevalier animal puppet sang Thank Heaven For Little Girls to a six- year old Cheri Clampett. Nine- year old Ruth Clampett perfectly kept pace with pointer following the rebus drawn by Bob Clampett for the song I M 4 U. (see photo above)
The audience loved it but not as much as we loved doing it even though we rehearsed it on a stage every day after school for two to three hours for a full three months.

The Clampett family and puppets circa 1969, left to right: son Bob, Jr. holding Willy the Wolf, Bob, Sr. holding Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent, daughter Cheri holding Chipper, wife and mother Sody holding the 20th Century Fox, and daughter Ruthy holding Marilyn Mongrel.

It was such a success that we ended up doing it several years after that. One Christmas we even performed it for all of the Southern California Bank of America employees and their families. Looking out from the stage there were a few THOUSAND people and all I could think was that the Cecil hand puppet must have looked pretty small to the back rows.

We are reminded by the passing last Saturday of Neil Armstrong that 1969 was the year of the first Lunar Landing. It was also the year of Flower Power, Woodstock and the anti-war protests. For us it was that watershed moment, The Clampett Family Puppet Show. Priceless!

One thought on “What were you up to in 1969? Here is what we were doing.

  1. Pure serendipity brought me here. Your Father created a very special program. It was decades ahead of its time. I think it was the first program that I can remember, where everybody crowded around the TV. It was also probably the last program of the early 60s that had that special ‘whole family’ appeal. The humor was pretty advanced, it sure spawned a lot of questions that my folks tried their best to answer. Much of that humor actually got through to me, well,..sorta,.. after having it explained to me over and over by my extremely patient Mother.

    Beany and Cecil brings back a lot of good memories. I’d like to see programs like it on TV today. Your Dad put together a quality show that was funny,irreverent and sharp but clean. That was over 45 years ago for me, and I can still recall it in great detail, it certainly left a good impression on me.

    Neil Armstrong was the ‘Man’. American kids of the 60s couldn’t have had a better role model. Neil Armstrong will be missed by all, and may he rest in peace.

    The good things do endure, if only in memory.

    Best regards,

    P.S.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>