I Remember JFK Logo

Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

Marlin Perkins on Wild KingdomSunday night was a major TV night at my house in the 60's. Sullivan was on, so was Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. But it all kicked off with Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom at 6:00.

Long before Steve Irwin, that snake guy, or Animal Planet, Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler (later Stan Brock) served up a delicious half hour of wildlife footage. They went to Africa, Antarctica, the Arctic, South America, North America, and Asia. They waded through swamps, trekked across plains, rode across savannas, and went undersea. Their adventures were interrupted periodically with commercials from you know who.

It was great stuff for a kid to watch. I don't think I missed an episode from 1963 through the early 70's.

Perkins was Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo director who started a local TV show in TV's infancy: 1945. By 1949, he had a new show called Zoo Parade, which NBC took on the next year. Zoo Parade lasted eight years, and featured Perkins highlighting various inhabitant's of Lincoln Park.

In 1968, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom debuted on NBC. Perkins, who by then had taken over directing the St. Louis Zoo, envisioned an animal show depicting the creatures in their native surroundings. It was an instant hit.

Marlin was no dummy. Johnny Carson used to poke fun at him, delivering in a deadpan voice: "While Jim is wrestling the 20 foot long anaconda, I'll just mix myself another martini . . ."

I recall other shows in the early 70's that might follow an animal around long enough for you to get attached to it, then show it getting killed by a lion or some other predator. That's what I loved about Wild Kingdom. If it showed a cute critter, it might also show a near miss that the creature would invariably survive.

If you can get your hands on it, the funniest twenty-something minutes of TV you'll ever see is a "close call" episode that was shown in the 70's. I only saw it once, and I still remember tears streaming down my face from laughter as Marlin, Jim, and Stan were nearly done in by a variety of creatures including rhinos, a big anaconda, and, funniest of all, huge lumbering elephant seals. Of course, Marlin was seriously narrating their harrowing adventures with no trace of humor.

But I knew I could laugh without guilt. Like the creatures they filmed, I knew the three would survive intact.

Check out some video excepts at MoA's website here. The close call with the jaguar in the water was on the aforementioned episode.

Recommend I Remember JFK to your friends!

Search I Remember JFK
Loading


Note to those who would use my images
You may use any images you find on my site on your own personal site. However, I request that you include a link back to I Remember JFK. Fair enough?

My Policy on Advertisements
You will never see a Flash ad, a popup ad, or a banner ad at I Remember JFK. What you will see are unobtrusive, friendly text ads. If you get popups here, the problem is that you have adware or spyware on Microsoft Windows. I recomment you download and install Ubuntu Linux and enjoy safe, adware-free surfing. Barring that, install Spybot and Ad-Aware to kill the bugs.

With that, if you have ad-disabling software such as AdBlock Plus, I respectfully request that you make an allowance for my website in its settings. You have my personal guarantee that there is no intrusive advertising here

Main Page | Books, Magazines, Comics | Boomer Reviews | Cars | Clothing, Shoes, Etc. | Food and Drink | Gadgets | Movies | Music | People | Places | Podcasts | School | Sports | The Home | The News | Things that Disappeared When You Weren't Looking | Toys | TV