Still Photos Donated by Jack Maier)
on WTTG-TV 5,
too, for a while)
March 1958 to July 1966;
to 7:00PM (3/3/58-59)
to 6:30PM (1959-60)
to 6:00PM (1960-61)
to 6:00PM (1961-62)
& Friends, Popeye,
Space Angel Cartoons"
Hercules & Friends"
to 6:00PM (1963-64)
and Cap'n Tugg"
to 5:30PM (1965-7/8/66)
on WTTG-TV 5,
Lee and Mates"
to 10:00AM (Fall '64 - 7/9/66)
1963 AFTRA Directory
Reynolds as "Cap'n Tugg" and all the "Channel Queen" characters and voices,
like "Commander Salamander", "Charlie Noble", "Fantail
the parrot", "Guthrie
Gudgeon" and "Mister Flannagan" in "back-aft".
from 1964 to '66, Reynolds hosted "Captain Lee and Mates" with special
visits from the weekday "Tugg" characters.
live from WTTG's Raleigh Hotel studios; later at Wisconsin Ave, with taped
bits, "Popeye" cartoons, and other film features, such as "Clutch Cargo",
"Mighty Hercules", "Space
Angel", "Rocky & Friends".
listed as broadcast in color.)
a message to Gary Helton (CrabCityKidsTV.Com),
was doing 'Grandpa's Place' at the time WTTG purchased the Popeye cartoon
package. They held auditions, looking for a personality to
act as host for a program featuring these cartoons. I was encouraged
by friends at the station to create a suitable character, preferably a
sailor. It had to be radically different in appearance from the Grandpa
makeup. Tugg and all the characters, plus the sets, were all my creation."
show ended when I joined a geology professor and a crew of students from
American University on a 'round-the-world' cruise to explore volcanos.
This left the void which was filled by new programs. Money was not a factor.
Nothing could have been cheaper than the budget for my shows. (Incidentally,
the expedition failed when our 72-foot ketch was damaged in a storm in
the Red Sea in 1966.)"
I don't think children's programming as it existed in those days will ever
come back. ... Whenever people ask 'what happened to Capt. Tugg?'
my answer depends upon my mood. Sometimes I say 'He drowned in the
Red Sea' and when I'm in a more pleasant mood, I simply say 'He retired
from sea duty.' (But he still sails with me on our little sloop, Courageous
Too. At present, Mr. Flannagan is having trouble with our inboard
worked in TV, mostly behind the scenes and off-camera, for almost 25 years
after my return from Africa. From this experience, I do not feel
that I could cope with the attitudes of the people running TV in this day
and age. And they certainly could not cope with my particular way
of doing things. Almost all of my shows in the old days were ad-libbed.
This method would not be tolerated today. Yes, I still have Fantail, but
he is not in good shape these day, due to being stored in a plastic bag."
Page Items From the 1963 AFTRA Directory
by Skip McCloskey)
Maier remembers: "In addition to tugboat engine
sounds, we heard foghorns from other ship traffic as the Cap'n cruised
the Potomac. On a snowy day, I distinctly recall fake snow would
be falling in front of the Channel Queen's bridge! One holiday season,
a small (artificial) Christmas tree rested on the table next to the radio
on the Channel Queen."
Axel Grackle? (one of two spys). Tugg would eavesdrop on their devious
plans over the radio. There'd be lots of skits with them, too. Fantail
the Parrot's favorite snack was only one thing; seaweed crackers.
The Captain snacked on whatever he was pitching that day - one was Planter's
Moncada comments: "Fantail
was scheduled to be launched into space. Seaweed crackers produced no crumbs.
Can't have crumbs floating inside the capsule in outer space. On
the subject of villains, don't forget the 'Seahag'."
Bevilacqua adds: "I
also remember when the Captain would try to sing the theme song to 'The
Ravenel recalls : "I remember watching Cap'n
Tugg every after- noon after school. ... he opened the show with 'Ahoy,
mateys!' from behind a porthole. I could never figure out his relationship
with Axel Grackel, his nemesis. Axel was a spy, I think; Tugg was a sort
of government agent, chasing spies in his tugboat on the Potomac.
had a great sense of humor--there was a segment of each show that had Tugg
speaking into this wireless receiver, like you'd see used on boats in films,
usually to his allies, to discuss Axel's movements. The voice at the other
end was also supplied by the actor playing Tugg, but recorded with gaps
for Tugg to fill in with his lines. If Tugg didn't say his lines quickly
enough, the person 'at the other end' would just roll right over him. Tugg
would respond to this in a variety of ways--roll his eyes, shake his head
at the camera, throw his microphone in the air, respond with a botched
line that made no sense. These exchanges never went smoothly --Tugg was
always trying to keep from laughing.
his first mate would fill in for Tugg-- again, the actor who played Tugg
in a different outfit and makeup. And sometimes you'd see the guy who played
Tugg, sans makeup, as the guy at HQ directing agents in their never-ending
search for Axel Grackel.
programs featured two Fleischer 'Popeyes' with the cabin doors that open
and close over the titles and credits. My first introduction to the Fleischers
and the beginning of an on again/off again affair with the world-famous
was later displaced by the unintentionally demented 'Clutch Cargo' cartoons,
which everyone I knew regarded as boring and moronic. And STATIC; the opposite
of Fleischer cartoons, in which EVERYTHING moved. No one could figure why
Clutch and the other male characters wore lipstick, either. Creepy. I started
to bail on the captain about this time; the novelty of Clutch Cargo passed
Lined-Up At Glen Echo Park
Cook of The Glen Echoes)
"KCS" wrote: "One
of my worst
was meeting Cap'n Tugg at Glen
Echo. I was very young, and the meet-and-greet was televised. My dad stood
with me in line, and when it was finally my turn to talk to Tugg in person,
I froze out of fear... his long, fake nose poked out -- I was really frightened
by his appearance! Needless to say, family members at home were both
disappointed and amused as the camera showed me there with a look of fear/anger/
disappointment on my face. <g>"
for the show's March 3rd, 1958 debut suggests it almost featured
"Cap'n Charlie". (right) However, Lee Reynolds states that Cap'n
no first name.
"Cap'n Tugg", Reynolds directed "Milt Grant's Record Hop", "Miss
Cindy Lou's Melody Ranch", and "The
Billy Johnson Show" . He filled-in occasionally as director for
He hosted "Grandpa's
Place" from 1957 to '59.
Tugg made a
no later than the 1970s,
be adopted by a
as Lee Reynolds
recall, the store
no royalties for
use of that name.
McCloskey recalls: "Cap'n Tugg used to promote
the 'Bob-A-Loop'. It was basically a stick with a sting tied to it.
At the other end of the string was another piece of wood... about 3" in
diameter by 6" tall with a hole in one end. The purpose was to swing the
large end up-and-onto the stick. Those daring enough could try to do the
reverse and hold the large end while trying to swing the stick into it.
The same thing sold on the West Coast as 'Mexican Tops'. HEY! ...
That was hi-tech for us back then!"
Washington Post Photo)
McClain's "Alma Mateys" in the 3/14/93 Washington Post Magazine
(on the "J Street" page, captioned "living legends") gave the following
fun facts (which have been subsequently updated/corrected by Mr. Lee Reynolds);
navigated the Channel Queen through "Tugg Harbor", "Pencil Point" and "Pavement
Queen's rival tugboat was the "Nancy K." (named in honor of one of WTTG's
secretaries Nancy Kane) and the Captain of the Nancy K. was named "'Flash'
the parrot was red and green.
villains were "Spike Marlin" & "Axel Grackle".
born in 1926, retired in 1991 from WETA-TV
after 23 years as announcer, director and writer there.
As of 1993,
Reynolds had two sons, four grandkids.
Cap'n Tugg on TV, Reynolds actually lived on a 45-foot yawl at the Washington
Reynolds set on a two-year sailing expedition to explore volcanos. His
boat sank during a storm in the Red Sea part-way through the journey.
As of 1993,
he flew a red Cessna 150 several times a week, stating "I
learned to fly before I could sail". (In 2004,
Lee still flies the Cessna whenever time and the weather permit.)
Sounds From The CAP'N TUGG Show at Kidshow
a kid, Scott Marinoff visited Cap'n Tugg's Wisconsin Avenue set:
"...Sets for other shows were there - Countdown
Carnival, and maybe even Panorama. I recall being hugely disappointed
that none of it was real and how small it all was! LOL Fantail
the parrot (when not in use) hung upside- down to the right of the Channel
Queen's wheel; (out of camera range, of course). It was also a disappointment
that Lee Reynolds had a fake beard & putty nose - AND - during the
cartoons, he'd run-up some stairs to the control room and we all saw him
sneak a puff on a cigarette!!! : ( "
responds to Scott's account: "Yes, everything
about the tug boat set was small. The budget was small. I even
built and painted some of the set myself. Do you remember the Channel
Queen's engine? That was my creation. If the show were done
today, remote facilities would probably allow me to do the program from
a real vessel. My own sailboat would have been a better setting.
Reynolds, Early 1990s
by Jack Maier)
was a hand puppet given to me by a puppeteer who went by the name of Miss
Verlain. She did shows at Normandy Farms, and the puppet was in lieu
of payment for some recordings I did for her show. Fantail's persona was
only real in my mind, but he also had a mind of his own. I never felt responsible
for what he would say next. One day he said 'It's going to snow!'
and it did! I have no idea why I put those words in his beak.
I did not hide my smoking habit from your view. (I hope this traumatic
revelation did not get you hooked on the habit!) As for the make-up,
I always felt vulnerable whenever I went out on a personal appearance.
A feisty little red-headed kid once threatened to pull my nose off, and
he only relented when I threatened to pull HIS nose off.
enjoyed meeting kids, but I was never enthusiastic about having children
visit the studio, for the very reason you were disappointed. I was aware
of the fact that the reality of the set and my make-up would be a source
of disillusionment. One of our salesmen once suggested that we make
up a foam rubber anchor, then I was to eat some product or drink Bosco
or whatever, then bend the anchor to show how strong I had become. This
I declined. I would never portray Tugg as doing anything that I would
not do myself.
you remember Capt. Lee, there was an episode in which he went down in a
'hard hat' diving rig. I insisted on going to the Navy Diving School
in Anacostia and taking basic training, and later actually diving on a
wreck in the Potomac. (This was great fun!) ...
guess what I intended to say was that I am disappointed that you were disa-
ppointed! Do you remember the line from 'The Wizard of Oz'? When
Dorothy discovered the wizard behind the curtain, he said, 'I'm not a bad
man, I'm just a bad Wizard!' That's a bit how I felt whenever kids came
to the studio. As long as you could only see Tugg on the TV set,
I hope he didn't appear to be such a bad Captain.
it's good to be remembered from the old days.
Umstead writes: "Born in 1954, I watched Cap'n
Tugg from 1958-62. One thing I vividly remember was Tugg's radar used on
the middle of his program, the Cap'n would head to the back of the Channel
Queen to announce he'd try to pick-up Santa leaving the North Pole (it
was still about 5PM EST). Sure enough, a blinking light would suddenly
appear on the radar screen that was Santa. If I remember correctly, Tugg
told his young audience that Santa was heading west from the North Pole
because it was already nighttime in other countries. However, he told the
boys and girls that by the time they got to sleep, Santa would be approaching
the East coast. This was one additional thing that ALWAYS got me to bed
correspondent named Kevin wrote NorVaPics.Com
on 7/3/02 (in part):
many other folks remember fireworks being advertised on Countdown Carnival
and Captain Tugg? One of my favorite childhood summertime memories is of
sitting at the dinner table eating my supper and watching TV, a fan droning
in the background, as Bill Gormly described the various fireworks assortment
boxes lined up neatly before him on a long table...
were always hawked as 'safe and sane' (... as opposed to dangerous and
crazy), were 'Avail- able at all local area Dart Drug, Drug Fair, and High's
stores!', and had names like 'Spirit of '76', 'Miss Liberty', 'Project
Mercury', and 'Liberty Bell'. The Cadillac of all the assortments (that
all we kids dreamed of), came in a big red tube with a black cone on top,
and looked like a rocket.
finally pestering our parents into getting them for us, all us kids in
the neighborhood would take our fireworks out of the boxes, and then spend
hours organizing, admiring, and playing with them, and showing them off
to our friends, always for at least a week before the big night came.
favorite item was always the 'House on Fire', a little red cardboard house
with a (very lame) fountain (which always burned out too quickly) sticking
out of the top like a chimney. When the fountain failed to catch the little
house on fire, which was almost always (not that it was supposed to), my
friends and I would dutifully light it ourselves, and ensure it 'burned
to the ground', all the time dancing around, laughing and screaming 'Fire!
Lee Reynolds received the "Silver Circle"; established by The National
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to recognize individuals who have
devoted a quarter-century or more to the broadcasting industry, and made
a significant contribution to the D.C. community.
"Whatever Happened To Those Kiddie Show Hosts?" by Trisha Katson, 1977,
George Mason Univ.'s Phoebe Magazine, (Courtesy: John Ahmad & Jack
Maier). "Alma Mateys" by Buzz McClain, 3/14/93 "Washington Post Magazine"
(on the "J Street" page, under "living legends"). Details/photos
courtesy Lee Reynolds, Jack Maier, Eric Umstead, K.J. Armstrong, KCS, John
Bevilacqua, Will Ravenel, Scott Marinoff, Ernest Moncada, Skip McCloskey,
Don Thompson, norvapics.com.and Richard
Cook of The Glen Echoes..Airtimes: Evening Star and Washington Post.
Shows Originated From Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Studios
you'll also want to visit...
Vintage TV Kid Shows
In Washington, DC
List of Shows
List of Hosts
From The Shows
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