The Beginning of “The Cinnamon Bear”

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  • #23

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Portland’s long association with “The Cinnamon Bear” began on a radio program 73 years ago. In 2005 the background of this classic program was posted here. This information has now been expanded to include a year by year look at what stations carried the program through the decades. Also new is an article interview with the story creator and even more background on how he arrived at using a bear as the title character.

    The Cinnamon Bear was created and written in 1937 by Glanville “Glan” & Elizabeth Heisch for “Transco” productions in Hollywood. The idea for the Christmas radio series came from Lindsay MacHarrie, Transco’s Production Manager. The meeting of Glan & Lindsay happened by chance on Hollywood Blvd. Lindsay invited Glan to lunch and explained his idea of a holiday season syndicated series “with all the charm and whimsy of the OZ books and Alice In Wonderland.” Mr. MacHarrie wanted the series to run between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 26, 15 minute programs with Santa Claus playing an important role.

    Most likely The Cinnamon Bear was recorded at “Radio Recorders”, 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. The studio would later record many artists including Elvis, before becoming “Studio 56”. The Cinnamon Bear program was narrated by Bud Hiestand. Songs were composed by Don Honrath, with lyrics by Glanville Heisch. Music was conducted by Felix Mills. Vocals were sung by The Paul Taylor Quartet. The Cinnamon Bear was Produced by Lindsay MacHarrie for Transco.

    The Cinnamon Bear program was pressed and distributed by “Radio Transcription Co. of America Ltd.” based at the old Columbia records West Coast pressing plant at 1509 N. Vine St. in Hollywood. The Cinnamon Bear was pressed on standard 16 inch transcription discs. Preceding the program, radio stations were sent a Cinnamon Bear 12 inch promotional disc. The colored record label featured a drawing of The Cinnamon Bear. The record sleeve carried “Merry Christmas” across it, and a note from Transco, as follows:

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    No! We’re not crazy. Neither have we lost our calendar. True, it maybe too early to wish you a Merry Christmas but it is not too early for you to listen to what we believe is one of the greatest ideas for a Christmas program that has ever been produced. It will take just fifteen minutes of your time to hear this story of Transco’s newest original complete Christmas feature called.

    “THE CINNAMON BEAR”

    There are twenty-six programs in the series designed to be broadcast six times a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The feature carries with it elaborate processed window display cutouts in brilliant colors, songs from the program published in sheet music form for sponsor give-always, together with many promotional and publicity ideas.

    Now! Will you please play first, the number ONE side of the record enclosed in this jacket!

    THANK YOU!

    TRANSCO

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    “The Cinnamon Bear” cast:

    Bottle Washer – Cy Kendall

    Captain Taffy, The Pirate – Cy Kendall

    Captain Tin Top – Frank Nelson

    Chief Cook – Cy Kendall

    Cowboy – Slim Pickens

    Crazy Quilt Dragon – Joseph Kearns

    Fe Fo, the Giant: Joe DuVal

    Fraidy Cat – Dorothy Scott

    Grand Wonkey – Lindsay MacHarrie

    Inkaboo, The Executioner – Ed Max

    Jimmy Barton – Walter Tetley

    Judy Barton – Barbara Jean Wong

    King Blotto, The 3rd – Ted Osborne

    Mother Barton – Verna Felton

    Mr. Presto, The Magician – Elliott Lewis

    Narrator – Bud Hiestand

    Oliver Ostrich – Gale Gordon

    Paddy O’Cinnamon – Buddy Duncan

    Penelope, The Pelican – Elvia Allman

    Professor Whiz, The Owl – Ted Osborne

    Queen Melissa – Rosa Barcelo

    Samuel, the Seal – Howard McNear

    Santa Claus – Lou Merrill

    Snapper Snick, The Crocodile – Hanley Stafford

    Weary Willie, The Stork – Gale Gordon

    Westley, The Wailing Whale – Lindsay MacHarrie

    Wintergreen the Witch – Martha Wentworth

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Cinnamon Bear national debut date was November 29, 1937 however, since the program was syndicated, radio stations had the opportunity to begin the series on any day. In Portland, The Cinnamon Bear debuted on November 25, 1937.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – November 24, 1937 [KALE Radio ad]

    Attention! Children and Parents!

    A Grand CHRISTMAS PROGRAM

    …Starts TOMORROW… in “The

    CINNAMON BEAR”

    The thrilling Xmas adventures of

    Judy, Jimmie and the baby bear.

    6 P. M. DAILY, Except Sat.

    KALE 1300 K. C.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – November 25, 1937 [page 28]

    [Lipman-Wolfe’s ad featured a drawing of The Cinnamon Bear holding what looks like a Western Electric, Double Button, carbon microphone with a call flag “L & W” fastened to the top of the mic. Ad copy follows:]

    TOY LAND’S OPEN

    “Cinnamon Bear” On The Air!

    IN-TRO-DUC-ING PADDY O’Cinnanon, Santa Claus’s right-hand man! Meet him with Santa in Toyland at Lipman’s…and don’t miss his exciting adventures with Judy and Jimmy (two of the nicest playmates you could want!) over the air every night but Saturday! Early-to-bedders can listen at 6 and stay-up-laters at 7…and some nights you’ll be so anxious to hear how they got the Silver Star back from the wicked Crazyquilt Dragon that you’ll listen twice! And here’s a secret…the Cinnamon Bear is just as excited about meeting you as he can be.

    KALE

    “Early-to-beders,” listen in at 6 o’clock over KALE.

    KXL

    “Stay-up-laters” at 7 o’clock over KXL.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – November 29, 1938 [Lipman-Wolfe ad featured the Cinnamon Bear at the mike again:]

    TUNE IN on “Cinnamon Bear”. Listen to the merry-mixups of Paddy O’Cinnamon and his co-horts in their new adventures. KALE 6:15 p. m. Nighty.

    Sunday 5:45 p. m.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – November 27, 1939 [KALE Radio ad:]

    Calling All Children!! Hear Your Favorite CHRISTMAS Program…

    THE CINNAMON BEAR 6;45 P. M. Tonight and Every Nite (ex. Sun)

    KALE 1300 K. C. The Journal

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Problems at Transco in 1940 caused The Cinnamon Bear program to be taken out of syndication. In 1941 Transco programming was sold to “Broadcasters Program Syndicate”.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – December 1, 1941 [Lipman’s ad featured an all new look and drawing of the Cinnamon Bear:]

    Let’s Go To Lipman’s

    Kiddies! Listen to the adventures of Jimmy and Judy and the Cinnamon Bear, over Station KEX at 6:00.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregon Journal – November 30, 1942 [Lipman’s ad:]

    Tune in “the Cinnamon Bear” Exciting adventures for the Kiddies over KWJJ every night at 7:15 P. M.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    YEAR BY YEAR LISTING OF CINNAMON BEAR STATIONS

    1937 – Nov 25 – KALE at 6:00pm / Nov 25 – KXL at 7:00pm.

    1938 – Nov 29 – KALE at 6:15pm.

    1939 – Nov 27 – KALE at 6:45pm.

    1940 – [syndication suspended]

    1941 – Dec 1 – KEX at 6:00pm.

    1942 – Nov 30 – KWJJ at 7:15pm.

    1943 – Nov 30 – KWJJ at 5:15pm.

    1944 – Nov 27 – KWJJ at 4:45pm.

    1945 – Nov 19 – KALE at 5:00pm.

    1946 – Nov 18 – KEX at 5:45pm.

    1947 – Nov 19 – KEX at 5:00pm.

    1948 – Nov 29 – KEX AM/FM at 4:45pm.

    1949 – Nov 24 – KEX AM/FM at 4:45pm.

    1950 – Nov 24 – KEX AM/FM at 5:15pm.

    1951 – Nov 25 – KWJJ at 5:45pm.

    1952 – Nov 27 – KWJJ at 5:45pm.

    1953 – Nov 25 – KEX AM/FM at 5:00pm.

    1954 – Nov 29 – KWJJ at 5:45pm.

    1955 – Nov 24 – KWJJ at 5:15pm.

    1956 – Nov 25 – KWJJ at 5:45pm.

    1957 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air]

    1958 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air]

    1959 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air]

    1960 – Nov 29 – KGW at 3:30pm.

    1961 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air]

    1962 – Nov 26 – KWJJ at 3:15pm.

    1963 – Nov 19 – KPOJ AM/FM at 3:45pm.

    1964 – Nov 19 – KPOJ AM/FM at 3:45pm.

    1965 – Nov 26 – KGW at 3:45pm.

    1966 – Nov 25 – KGW at 3:45pm.

    1967 – Nov 23 – KGW at 3:45pm.

    1968 – Nov 25 – KGW at 3:30pm.

    1969 – Nov 25 – KGW at 3:20pm.

    1970 – Nov 26 – KOIN at 3:45pm.

    1971 – Nov 26 – KOIN at 3:30pm.

    1972 – Nov 30 – KLIQ at 4:15pm.

    1973 – Nov 26 – KEX at 7:15pm.

    1974 – Nov 25 – KEX at 6:45pm.

    1975 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air]

    1976 – Dec 6 – KEX at 6:40pm.

    1977 – Dec 1 – KEX at 6:40pm.

    1978 – [Cinnamon Bear did not air] (last Lipman’s connection)

    1979 – Dec 4 – KBPS at 2:00pm & 6:30pm. (Frederick & Nelson)

    1980 – Dec 3 – KBPS at 12:30pm & 4:30pm.

    1981 – Nov 27 – KKSN at 6:45pm / Dec 2 – KBPS at 1:00pm.

    1982 – Nov 29 – KKSN at 5:45pm / Dec 1 – KBPS at 12:30pm.

    1983 – Nov 28 – KKSN at 6:45pm / ???? – KBPS.

    1984 – Dec 5 – KBPS at 1:00pm.

    1985 – Nov 29 – KKSN at 6:45pm / ???? – KBPS.

    1986 – Nov 27 – KKSN at 6:45pm / Dec 3 – KBPS at 1:00pm.

    1987 – Dec 3 – KBPS at 12:30pm & 4:30pm. (last Frederick & Nelson connection)

    1988 – Nov 30 – KBPS at 1:00pm / Nov 30 – KUIK at 5:30pm.

    1989 – Nov 24 – KUIK at 5:45pm / Nov 29 – KBPS at 1:00pm & 6:30pm.

    1990 – Nov 24 – KUIK at 5:45pm / Nov 28 – KBPS at 1:00pm.

    1991 – Dec 4 – KBPS at 1:00pm / Dec 6 – KKEY at 6:00pm.

    1992 – ???? – KBPS.

    1993 – Dec 1 – KBPS at 1:00pm & 7:00pm / Dec 1 – KKEY at 6:45pm / Dec 1 – KBVM at 10:00am, 3:45pm & 3:15am.

    1994 – ???? – KBPS.

    1995 – ???? – KBPS.

    1996 – ???? – KBPS.

    1997 – Dec 3 – KBPS at 1:00pm.

    1998 – Dec 2 – KBPS at 2:30pm.

    1999 – Dec 1 – KBPS at 2:00pm.

    2000 – ???? – KBPS.

    2001 – ???? – KBPS.

    2002 – ???? – KBPS.

    2003 – ???? – KBPS.

    2004 – Nov 18 – KBVM at 3:30pm / ???? – KBPS.

    2005 – Nov 28 – K103 at 7:00pm / ???? – KBVM at 7:30am & 3:30pm / ???? – KBPS.

    2006 – ???? – KBPS at 9:00am / ???? – K103 at 7:00pm.

    2007 – Dec 5 – KBPS at 9:00am / ???? – KBVM at 7:30am / ???? – K103 at 7:00pm.

    2008 – Nov 24 – K103 at 7:00pm / Dec 3 – KBPS at 9:00am.

    2009 – Nov 30 – K103.com / Dec 2 – KBPS at 9:00am.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    TOP CINNAMON BEAR STATIONS

    1. KBPS – 31 seasons.

    2. KEX – 11 seasons.

    3. KWJJ – 9 seasons.

    4. KGW – 6 seasons.

    5. KALE/KPOJ 6 seasons.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Great article below! The entire column was devoted to The Cinnamon Bear. Peter Farrell interviews creator Glan Heisch. Insight into the development of the radio classic. Plus the announcement of The Cinnamon Bear, KBPS & Frederick & Nelson, teaming up.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Oregonian – November 15, 1979

    Behind the Mike: Peter Farrell

    Cinnamon Bear Lives, Will Be Back On Air

    Everyone can relax now. There is no need to march or write letters. Cinnamon Bear will be back on the air this year. Frederick & Nelson is even going along good naturedly with the idea that the Cinnamon Bear broadcasts are just for kids.

    Actually, Jim Mesch, Oregon Sales Promotion Coordinator for the department stores, said he spent his summer asking people about the Bear. Sure, they all had fond memories of the broadcasts from their childhood, but their own children hadn’t been following the attic adventures of the Bear.

    “I don’t know what the explanation is,” he said. “It is part of our tradition, but try to find people who listen to it today. Maybe it’s the busier lifestyles. Maybe it is just that there was no television back then.”

    Don’t get him wrong; Mesch is not anti-Bear. Unlike the bearer of this Bear news, he is a native Oregonian, and he remembers listening to the Bear on the radio, too.

    There were fears a few days ago that the Bear might not be back, and people in Milwaukie were getting ready to protest. Mesch said what actually happened was the more popular radio stations were not interested in carrying a program with so much talk, and considering the small response to the program and the $3,000 cost of air time, he turned to KBPS.

    The Public School station will carry the program beginning Tuesday, Dec 4, and ending Thursday, Dec 20. That is 13 half hours, and includes all 26 of the original 15-minute broadcasts. KBPS will bring the bear into the classroom.

    The tape is a new one, but nostalgic adults shouldn’t worry, Mesch said. The voices are all the same, but “the music was getting a little scratchy so it’s been redone.”

    Many Portlanders think the Bear is an Oregon creation, but he is actually part of Christmas in such places as Los Angeles, Sacramento, Spokane and Murray, Ky., according to Gene Kellenberger of Nostalgia Broadcasting of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which syndicates the Bear program.

    Kellenberger said there was hope the Bear would go nationwide as a feature on National Public Radio, but the plan fell through for this year.

    The Cinnamon Bear series was written in 1937 by Glan Heisch with help from his wife, Elizabeth. “In 1937 I was working at KFI in Los Angeles,” Heisch, now 71 and again living in Los Angeles, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “Those were the golden days of 16-piece orchestras, and I wrote and directed radio things.”

    A friend in the advertising business was looking for a radio show to run daily from the day after Thanksgiving up to Christmas for children.

    “I said, ‘You know I don’t write kid stuff.'” But the first of Heisch’s five daughters had just been born, and he had written a poem, “The Cinnamon Bear With The Shoe Button Eyes.” So that is how Cinnamon Bear came to be.

    “I thought, maybe there’s something in this Cinnamon Bear,” Heisch said. “Over the next couple of days I developed the idea with the kids and the Bear and the Crazy Quilt Dragon and all. With the help of my wife we put it together in less than a week. It was written in six weeks, including 11 original songs.”

    The program was purchased mostly by department stores, although in Los Angeles the Downtown Merchants Association got together to sponsor the program and Cinnamon Bear promotions.

    Heisch became Program Director at KFI, went to the Office of War Information in San Francisco, and later went to New York and the advertising agency business. For four years he wrote commercials for the “Howdy Doody Show.” During that time, he said, he sort of forgot about Cinnamon Bear. But in recent years there has been talk of a Cinnamon Bear animated movie or a television special.

    For those up a tree about all this, the radio serial, written in the old “cliffhanger” style, is the story of two children who go to the attic in search of an ornament for the top of the Christmas tree. They meet the Bear and other characters who come to life and join the fantasy.

    Lipmans made the Bear its Christmas symbol, and one of the first questions Portlanders asked when Frederick & Nelson bought the Lipmans interests was whether the Bear would survive the corporate shake-up. Mesch said the Bear is in fine shape, and will be in stores and visiting hospitals. He will continue to pass out cookies. “We’ve ordered 11,000 dozen cookies,” Mesch said.

    That doesn’t sound like a Bear in trouble to me.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Glanville Heisch – died July 27, 1986 at age 78 in Redondo Beach, California.

    Elizabeth Heich – died August 17, 2003 at age 94 in Redondo Beach, California.

    #1617

    mike_kolb
    Participant

    Good, thorough job Craig… as usual. Thanks for the work.

    #1618

    Bill Cooper
    Participant

    The holiday tradition continues on AM-1450 KBPS! This will be the 32nd year we have broadcast “The Cinnamon Bear” program. KBPS will air two episodes a day at 9am beginning December 1st. The programs will be repeated each evening at 6pm. If you have friends or relatives who don’t live in the Portland area but who you think might enjoy this holiday treat, let them know they can listen on-line at http://www.kbps.am.

    #1619

    kennewickman
    Participant

    Joseph Kearns as the Dragon huh?…He was also the first ” Mr. Wilson ” on Dennis the Menace…he died in the middle of the TV series ..

    Interesting article and I do remember listening to this program on KPOJ when our family moved to Vancouver, Wa…my brothers were younger and liked the program, well it was a little old for me…but I enjoyed it anyway, but didnt admit to it >>>LOL>>>

    #1620

    semoochie
    Participant

    Joseph Kearns was a familiar voice to radio audiences.

    #1621

    Bill Cooper
    Participant

    A slight correction to my earlier post…KBPS will indeed be airing Cinnamon Bear again this year…I just did not have the correct time for the morning airing. It will run at 10am weekdays beginning December 1st. It will be repeated each evening at 6pm. We return you now to your regularly scheduled Cinnamon Bear comment thread. Thank you! 🙂

    #1622

    Waynes World
    Participant

    Off the topic but whatever happened to Jay North? He played Dennis.

    #1623

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    You’ve read the history of the Cinnamon Bear (above) but what did The Cinnamon Bear really look like in 1937? Or for that matter in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s & 1970’s? When the Cinnamon Bear aired in those decades parents could show children picture ads from the newspaper. Coming soon to this thread and for the first time on the web, you will see how The Cinnamon Bear evolved in newspaper picture ads.

    Stay tuned….

    #1624

    don_from_salem
    Participant

    Grrr-ah! I’m ferocious!

    #1625

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME ON ANY WEBSITE, “SEE” RADIO’S CINNAMON BEAR FROM THE BEGINNING.

    Here’s a little background. Mark Moore over at pdxhistory.com and I teamed up on this project. Mark has this fantastic website with everything vintage Portland in photos & postcards. Unfortunately for Cinnamon Bear fans there was next to nothing in photos or memorabilia to display on the site. Happened to mention to Mark there were a lot of great ads with pictures when I was researching the Cinnamon Bear yearly radio schedules for the updated history. Mark said, well if you could find some of the best ones, I could try and put something together. Well Mark has done a fantastic job! It’s is a fun journey through the Cinnamon Bear history visually. Enjoy!

    http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/cinnamon_bear.html

    #1626

    don_from_salem
    Participant

    semoochie:

    I also recognized Elvia Allman, Frank (Y-e-e-e-s-s-s) Nelson, Gale Gordon and Slim Pickens (as himself) from a number of old TV shows.

    #1627

    semoochie
    Participant

    “whatever happened to Jay North?” As of 2009, he was a correctional officer in Florida.

    #1628

    Feliks
    Participant

    Craig–this is great information! I’ve never seen anything so comprehensive about the Cinnamon Bear. In fact, the booklet that came with the CD set I bought 10 years ago (from Radio Spirits/Smithsonian Institution) says that the name of actor who played Jimmy Barton was unknown. What source identifies him as Walter Tetley? My daughter and I listen every year, and have always wondered about the “mystery” of who Jimmy really was . . . we love that kind of “mystery” thing!

    thanks,

    -Feliks

    #1629

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Thanks Feiks! If anyone else hasn’t seen the new wonderful Cinnamon Bear web page Mark Moore put together on how Portland portrayed the radio program in newspaper ads from the 1930’s 40’s, 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, checkout this link:

    http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/cinnamon_bear.html

    #1630

    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Starting this morning, the holiday tradition continues on AM-1450 KBPS! This will be the 32nd year KBPS has broadcast “The Cinnamon Bear” program. KBPS will air two episodes a day at 10am weekdays beginning December 1st. The programs will be repeated each evening at 6pm. If you have friends or relatives who don’t live in the Portland area but who you think might enjoy this holiday treat, let them know they can listen on-line at http://www.kbps.am.

    If you’ve never seen radio’s Cinnamon Bear before, his images live on right here:

    http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/cinnamon_bear.html

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