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Joe Campbell on Circle 4 Ranch
"Circle 4 Ranch"
(f.k.a. "Circle 4 Roundup")
Cowboy Joe Campbell
Photos ©2004, Estate of Joseph Pendleton
Campbell. All rights reserved.

Aired on WNBW-TV 4,
 (renamed WRC-TV 4,
 as of October 1954).
Broadcast Live from
Wardman Park Hotel studios
 'til May 1958, when WRC moved
 to 4001 Nebraska Ave., N.W..

"Circle 4 Roundup"
Various Times
January 1950 - October 1953
Various Length Broadcasts
(January 7 - April 30, 1950)
5:30 - 7:30pm, Saturday
4:00 - 5:15pm, Weekdays
(May 1 - May 3, 1950)
4 - 4:15pm: Circle 4 Club Meeting
5:00 - 6:00pm: Circle 4 Roundup
(May 4 - May 31, 1950)
5:30 - 7:30pm, Saturday
4:00 - 5:15pm, Weekdays
(June - July 1950)
4:00 - 5:15pm, Weekdays
(January 1951 - July 1952)
Various Times, Saturdays
(October 1952)
12:30 - 2:00 pm, Saturday
5:00 - 6:30 pm, Saturday

(January - October 1953)
Various Times, Saturday
No Host Listed

"Circle 4 Ranch"
Various Times
November 1953 - September 1958
Various Length Broadcasts
(November 1953 - February 1954)
Various Times, Saturday
No Host Listed
(June  - September 25, 1954)
Various Times, Saturday
Host: Cowboy Joe Campbell
(September 26, 1954-June 1955)
Various Times, Saturday
Various Times, Sunday AM
Host: Cowboy Joe Campbell
(July  - September  1955)
Various Times, Sunday AM
Host: Cowboy Joe Campbell
(April 1957 - September 1958)
Various Times, Saturday
No Host Listed

"Circle 4 Roundup" Debuts, 1.7.50
"Circle 4 Ranch" traces its roots to Saturday, January 7th, 1950 at 5:30pm when "Circle 4 Roundup" debuted; described as "New two-hour show for children includes a Western and 'Children's Sketchbook'." There's no indication in published listings of a live host during the first four years.

For reasons that may never be known, "Circle 4 Roundup" was re-christened "Circle 4 Ranch" in November 1953.
 As with "Roundup", no host was specified in the "Ranch" TV listings until the appearance of
Cowboy Joe Campbell's name in June 1954.
Ad for Circle 4 Ranch, Washington Post, 6/12/54

Ad for Circle 4 Ranch, Washington Post, October 1954
Joe Campbell first polished his TV cowboy act at competing station WMAL-TV 7's Joe's Ranch in 1953. Then, Joe's personal manager Paul Menzer thought it might work to Joe's advantage to take his act to Channel-4, so Joe obtained a release from Channel-7 station manager Charles Kelly and got hired by the higher- rated NBC affiliate uptown.

From September 1954 to September 1955, Joe Campbell hosted a Sunday morning Circle 4 Ranch in addition to the Saturday program. His Sunday show aired opposite Pick Temple and, as Campbell writes in his autobiography, his ratings regularly beat out the competition
Circle 4 Ranch TV Listing, 10.3.54 Washington Post and Times Herald

Glen Echo "Pepsi Joe" Ad in Post, 9.2.54 As had been done the previous year by competitor WMAL-TV, Channel-4 would promote Joe's shows (and Pepsi-Cola) with personal appearances by Joe Campbell at Glen Echo in September of 1954. Two lucky kids would win a pony of their own, (could both ponies have possibly been named "Pepsi Joe"?), and their parents would promptly face the harsh reality of raising a horse in an urban setting.

Although a new school year was looming for otherwise carefree DC area kids on Friday, September 3rd, 1954, they packed Glen Echo's Kiddieland Pavilion at both 4 and 9 pm to witness the drawing of the lucky pony-winning tickets. Drawing a crowd at Glen Echo's "Pepsi Joe Campbell" Day, 9.3.54

Joe Campbell Entertains at Children's Christmas Party, DC General Hospital, 1954
Campbell would also make charitable appearances as well as promote his TV programs. On December 21st, 1954, Joe visited the kids in three wards of DC General Hospital as part of their annual Childrens Christmas Party. Over 100 youngsters were entertained during the event, held in conjunction with local American Legion Post 44.

The Circle 4 Ranch full-hour format allowed Joe to perform elaborate skits featuring his "picking and singing". By late autumn 1954, many of these skits involved hand-puppets, "Longhorn", "Shorthorn", (and later, "Penelope"). Few folks know that those puppets were the brainchild of Joe, and built by a soon to be rising star on Channel-4's staff.
1954 WNBW-TV Publicity Card

Cowboy Joe Campbell and Muppet Theatre (Photo ©2004, Estate of Joseph Pendleton Campbell. All rights reserved.)
Joe's director, Bob Porter, (who would step into the spotlight as Cousin Cupcake from 1959 to '66) introduced him to a newly hired University of MD freshman Jim Henson who worked off-camera in set construction and design. Joe designed (as shown at left) "Shorthorn", "Longhorn", and eventually "Penelope". Jim Henson then crafted the puppets according to Campbell's exact specifications.

When picking a name for these cloth characters, Bob Porter first suggested "Moppet Puppets." However, it was Joe Campbell who coined the term "Muppet" during that conversation, and the name stuck. On December 18, 1954, James Maury Henson signed a handwritten contract (shown on right) giving Joe Campbell 51% ownership of the muppets known as "Longhorn" and "Shorthorn." Contract For 51% Ownership of Longhorn and Shorthorn By Joe Campbell

Transcription Disk Label, Circle 4 Ranch, Christmas 1954 (Courtesy: Estate of Joseph Pendleton Campbell)
Although Joe performed his own songs and dialogue "live" during every broadcast, he provided the voices for Longhorn, Shorthorn and Penelope through the magic of pre-recording. In that era, such recordings were made on 33rpm acetate transcription disks; several of which have survived for 50 years, and are cherished by the whole Campbell clan. (Hear a sample MP3.)

As seen in the photo at right, Cowboy Joe Campbell could easily draw a crowd of enthusiastic "Circle 4 Ranch" fans, like this appearance at a "Federal Grocery" store. But, despite his popularity, an across-the-board cancellation of kids programs in September 1955 led to his dismissal and the removal of "Circle 4 Ranch" from the Channel-4 airwaves for more than a year and a half.
Joe Campbell Personal Appearance at a Federal Market Grocery in December 1954

From the time of the program's return to WRC-TV in April 1957 until its final demise in September 1958, the host-less "Circle 4 Ranch" was constantly shuffled around Saturday's schedule, often disappearing for months... especially during those seasons when sporting events domained the weekend airwaves.

Visit "Joe's Ranch"
Visit "Cowboy
Joe Campbell" show
More Images From The
Joe Campbell Scrapbook
Visit Joe Campbell
at Kidshow Klips
Joseph Pendleton Campbell (1990's Photo)(©2004, Estate of Joseph Pendleton Campbell. All rights reserved.)
 (©2004, Estate of Joseph Pendleton Campbell. All rights reserved.)
Joe Campbell passed-away on November 10, 2003 at age 79,
but not before he was able to complete, and see, his auto-
biography, "On The Edge of Greatness (But No Cigar)", in print.
The book may be ordered through or Barnes & Noble.
Photos and articles ©2004, Estate of Joseph Pendleton Campbell. All rights reserved.
Data provided courtesy of Sharen Campbell Dowdy with Mark and Phil Campbell.
Some data provided by TV listings in The Evening Star and The Washington Post. David P. Samson (left) as Elmer Fishpaw in John Waters' POLYESTER
Public Library, District of Columbia, Washingtoniana Division
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Page Revised: 8/26/04

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