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Jules Huber as *Hoppity Skippity*
"Hoppity Skippity"
a.k.a. "The Moppet Shop/Moppet Movies"
a.k.a. "The Children's Hour"
Hoppity Skippity Publicity Photo (Donated by Jack Maier)
WTTG-TV Publicity Photo
(Donated By Jack Maier)
Jules Huber as "Hoppity Skippity" with his Rabbit Rangers
 and (for several years) straight man, Gordon Williamson.

Broadcast live from the WTTG-TV 5 studios in the Raleigh Hotel,
downtown at 12th Street & Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Aired on WTTG-TV 5,
at various airtimes
From November 1948 to December 1956:
"The Moppet Shop"
(11/19/1948 through Fall 1950)
Monday thru Friday
6:00pm to 6:30pm
(Fall 1950 to ??)
Monday Through Friday?
6:45pm to 7:00pm
"Moppet Movies"
(Fall 1952 to Fall 1953)
Monday Through Friday?
6:30pm to 6:45pm
"Hoppity Skippity with Moppet Movies"
(Fall 1953)
Monday thru Friday
12:30pm to 1:00pm and also
6:00pm to 7:00pm
(January 1954 to December 1954)
Monday thru Friday
12:30pm to 1:00pm and also
6:00pm to 6:30pm
(January 1955 to Summer 1955)
Monday thru Friday
6:00pm to 6:30pm
(Fall 1955)
Monday thru Friday
6:00pm to 7:00pm
(January 1956 to 11/16/56)
Monday thru Friday
6:00pm to 6:30pm
"The Children's Hour"
(Fall 1951 to Fall 1952)
5:30pm to 6:30pm
(Fall 1952 to Fall 1952)
5:00pm to 5:30pm
(Fall 1953 to December 1954)
4:30pm to 5:30pm
 "Hoppity Skippity's Rabbit Rangers
join the man-sized real live rabbit star
for an hour long session of cartoon
strips and advice from the bunny"
Times-Herald TV Listings, 11/22/48 "The Moppet Shop" which
featured live character
"Hoppity Skippity" was
truly a pioneer in DC
kid's TV programming
and a red-hot local hit.

According to the TV
listings published in the
Washington Times-Herald,
the show debuted on
Friday November 19, 1948.
Up until that date, WTTG
had filled the 6:00 to
6:30 pm time slot with
"The Small Fry Club"
produced by its'
sister DuMont Network
station, WABD-TV 5
in New York City.

Gordon Williamson, creator/producer/performer, writes: "I originated the show... at the request of Walter Compton and Roger Coelos, manager and program director of WTTG, Channel 5 respectively, who were concerned that the New York feed of Bob Emery's Small Fry Club had little to interest Washington and WTTG audiences. 

The reaction to our show was gratifying. We had no doubt that we carried the audience in the 6-6:30 PM time period across the board. Proof of that assumption came from the fact that we had the 25 local children daily who were part of the show, 5 days a week. That's 125 children weekly, [booked] for more than a year ahead of time.

Besides producing the show I performed as 'straight man' for several years with Jules Huber who was cast as Hoppity Skippity.

We had regular entertaining guest segments who entertained and never condescended or patronized or embarrassed our on-camera guests.

We made Saturday public appearances in neighborhood theaters and did special events. President Truman was instrumental in having the Moppet Shop awarded a Patriotism Award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National Congress of Christian and Jews awarded us a Brotherhood Award. 

I left the show in 1953 in order to move to station management. They carried on without me."


Gordon Williamson with Hoppity Skippity (Photo courtesy Gordon Williamson) Gordon Williamson and buddy Hoppity Skippity, from the cover of the DC/Baltimore edition of Teleguide; the predecessor to TV Guide Magazine.

The year is unknown, but as the caption touts "WTTG's new children's show"presumably this December 6th issue contained listings for the week of 12/6/48.

(Photo Courtesy Gordon Williamson)


At some point during the show's later run, Lee Reynolds, (creator and on-camera host of  "Cap'n Tugg", "Captain Lee and Mates", and "Grandpa's Place") would fill-in as director of "Hoppity Skippity"  when necessary. (The show's regular director at the time was Wes Harris.)

Reynolds recalls that the bunny star Jules Huber's regular job at WTTG was advertising salesman.  Before showtime each day, Huber put white clown makeup on his face, climbed out of his business suit and into the rabbit suit.

After ending his run as "Hoppity", Huber moved to WMAL-TV 7 for eighteen years as an off-air Regional Sales Manager. He served in the same role at WDCA-TV 20 from 1973 until his death from a heart attack on 12/14/74.

Jim Spear,
weekly on The
 Moppet Shop.



Jim Spear, Magician (l), Hoppity (center), Gordon Williamson (right)... Photo Courtesy Gordon Williamson

According to research by Tim Hollis (for his book "Hi There, Boys and Girls! - America's Local Children's TV Programs"), Hoppity was the favorite TV character of David Eisenhower... son of then-President Dwight Eisenhower.

Mike Mehalic and his dummy entertain. (Photo Courtesy Gordon Williamson)
Mike Mehalic and his dummy entertain Hoppity's Rabbit Rangers. Mike appeared weekly on a different day than Jim Spear's act. (Photo Courtesy Gordon Williamson)

Kathi Jones Hudson wrote to "Rootsweb": "We all remember Pick Temple, Ranger Hal, Milt Grant. Who besides me remembers the Rabbit? The 6' tall rabbit, on Channel 5, used to face the camera at the end of the show, wave goodbye and say 'And remember boys and girls, I'm a real live bunny rabbit'. My Brownie troop went on the show, I saw the zipper, it was devastating!  Not that I wasn't old enough to know that rabbits weren't 6' tall and could talk."

Tom Hoffman appeared on the show: "When I was five or six (which would have been in 1953 or 1954), my mom took me downtown to the WTTG studios, probably on the streetcar. I remember the door having a big '5' on it. From reading your site, I now realize I was at the long-defunct Raleigh Hotel.

Early WTTG-TV Logo

Tom continues: "... I was crowned (or elected) king for the day. Hoppity gave me a paper crown. I proudly kept it on my bedpost for probably an entire year! It made me feel like a real king, and I hoped I could be one someday. Was I disappointed when my dad told me that our country had a president instead of a king!  Oh well. "

TV Guide Listing (Right Cloumn) For Hoppity Skippity (Donated By Ralph Bull)
Alexandria's Ralph Bull remembers an early 1950s'
live Hoppity appearance at KC Drug Store in Kent
Village Shopping Center in Prince George's County:

 "This 'rabbit' picked me up and held me for a brief moment, just long enough to have someone take a photo and post it in the store window at a later date."

1954 TV Guide Listing (Donated By Ralph Bull)

Steveku recalls: "I was born in Washington in 1949.  When I was three, my older sister, another neighbor, and I were on the Hoppity Skippity show.  We watched it every night on the TV in the neighbor's apartment upstairs."

"On the TV screen. it looked like Hoppity was out in the woods. He sat on a (fake) tree stump; the kids sat on a (fake) tree that had fallen next to the stump. When I was on, there were three of us, the usual number, give or take one or two. The back drop was a black and white photo of the woods... mounted on a piece of plywood or something.  Sitting on the show, I realized what this thing really was.  I recollect grabbing the side of this big piece of plywood and pulling it toward me.  Oh my goodness!  I quickly let it go and it returned to its original position."

"During the show, Hoppity announced that he was going to be at some store or somewhere on the weekend.  My mother was there in the studio with us, sitting against a wall to the right of us, out of sight of the cameras.  I yelled over, 'Can we go?'.  She nodded yes; probably a little mortified."

Phil Wood wrote:
"I'm old enough to remember...
Hoppity Skippity.  A guy in a
rabbit suit, sponsored by
Giant/Heidi, who had kids
on the show, played games
and showed cartoons.

My sister was on, and as
the kids were leaving they
got an assortment of baked
goods to take home. My sister
was last in line, and they ran
out, so they gave her a box
of peanut brittle." 

"One day Hoppity announced
he was taking a vacation ...
but he never came back.
The show just ended. The
guy who wore the suit was
a local broadcaster whose
last name was Huber...
I recall seeing his obit
in the 1970s."

Jules Huber's Obituary, Washington Star-News, Monday 12/16/74

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'Angry' man still fights
for pet causes

Staff Writer
02 August 2004

HOLLY HILL -- The path to angry leads past strip malls and strip joints. It leads past banks where you can check your cash and liquor stores where you can cash your check. It leads to a wooded lot with a SAVE THE LOOP sign in front and a Toyota Prius in a partially hidden drive.
It is a long road, 84 years and counting. Toward the end, your hands can shake uncontrollably and your mind trips over a detail or two in most conversations. This is where Gordon Williamson lives, and he's not shy about saying it: "I'm an angry, old man."
Gordon Williamson is reflected in the wateras he kneels
 over his pond to watch the goldfish in the back yard
 of his Holly Hill home. A longtime environmentalist,
 Williamson installed the pond to give wildlife a place to
 congregate because of the destruction of native wetlands.

How did this veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War II become so worked up?

It is a passion that grew from an adventurous life.

As a young singer from just outside Baltimore, he moved to Florida well before Disney, so he could attend Stetson University in DeLand. In his words, it was a "natural wonderland" teeming with unique plants and animals in balance with an environment so clean he could smell the citrus trees.

He was into his fourth year at Stetson when he left, joining the Navy in 1944. He saw action and survived several close calls.

But when a wave threw him against a boat, he suffered nerve damage that he believes caused the tremor that slows him even today.

Back in the States, he landed jobs at radio stations in Annapolis and Washington D.C.

Before long, he was hired on at WTTG, the first television station in Washington. He started as a booth announcer, introducing programs, and became an on-air personality, reading news and playing the straight man alongside a children's show character named Hoppity Skippity.

"I even have people come up to me today and say they remember the show and were devoted fans," he said. "It was fun to do."

The era was a pioneering, fun time, and Williamson was involved in some groundbreaking moments.

For instance, he can't remember whether it was 1947 or 1948, but he recalls working as a commentator on the first broadcast from Capitol Hill, a House Armed Services Committee hearing involving then-Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower.

Williamson also played Santa Claus and met such entertainment giants as Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday as they visited the station for live, on-air performances.

Eventually, he moved into advertising and executive positions at television stations and ad agencies in Greensboro, N.C., Charleston, S.C., and Orlando.

But while television is a sweet spot of memories for Williamson, it is also a source of sourness.

"I think it's lost its soul," he said. "It seems that anything goes and there's so much deception.

"They can spin something that's not correct into something the public believes is true."

As ownership of most television stations has fallen into the hands of the same seven or eight conglomerates, the business has lost much of its originality, he said.

He and wife Natalie Dix, the retired Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial page editor (who first met Williamson at Stetson in the 1940s), limit their viewing to mainly news-oriented programs and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Instead, he spends a lot of time admiring the mostly wild plants and flowers that provide cover for his home.

"I believe cutting trees is responsible for other problems we have today. We bare too much land and it allows the sun to dry it out and reduces our evaporation."

He's convinced deforestation has altered the state's climate, raising temperatures. "We seldom hit 90," in the 1940s, he said.

Politically, he had embraced the conservative message of Barry Goldwater in the 1960s, but he returned to Florida in 1970 and his concern for the environment grew. He switched to the Democratic Party in the late 1980s.

Williamson volunteered for environmentalist Reid Hughes, a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1982 and 1990. Hughes said his background in television and radio was invaluable to his campaigns, though Hughes lost close races to incumbents both times.

"He works harder than the rest of us," Hughes said. "He has been an inspiration to the environmental constituency with his leadership."

Another cause Williamson took up was overpopulation and its societal and environmental effects. For years, he traveled the state, giving presentations on the problem.

But the message never seemed to catch on.

"I think I'm more disillusioned by the human condition than anything else," he said. "I think I'm frustrated because in Florida, we're continuing to do the things that are not good for us.

"I'm a pessimist, I guess, and I hate to be a pessimist. I look across the world and I see people starving and I see genocide and what's going on in Iraq and Palestine and I'm frustrated that I can't do anything about it."

Williamson insists his anger has little or nothing to do with his family life. He was married once, and divorced, and has not spoken to his adopted son for many years.

He stays busy. He travels and continues strategizing with groups such as the Volusia-Flagler Environmental Action Council. He talks about finishing his life story.

In quiet moments at home, he admires the lizards he claims drink from a manmade pond he had dug in his backyard in Holly Hill, an otherwise largely urban city. He watches the koi.

He notices an air potato vine growing on one of his palm trees, and thinks to himself, "Gee, I've got to get that taken care of."

He tries to steady that tremor.

Copyright © 2004 News-Journal Corporation

Sources: Gordon Williamson, Kathi Jones Hudson, Lee Reynolds, Phil Wood, Ralph Bull, Tom Hoffman, Steveku, Tim Hollis, (author of "Hi There, Boys and Girls! - America's Local Children's TV Programs") Photo card courtesy Jack Maier. TV Guide courtesy  Ralph Bull.  Airtimes and Obituary from Evening Star-News and Washington Post papers. David P. Samson (left) as Elmer Fishpaw in John Waters' POLYESTER
Public Library, District of Columbia, Washingtoniana Division
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Page Revised: 3/21/06

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