1 9 4 9 – 1 9 5 2 (USA)
20 x 30 minute episodes
This CBS Sunday night show for kids featured Mr I. Magination (Paul Tripp) who made trips to visit various figures from history or classic fiction – Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin or George Washington for example, or perhaps a reenactment of scenes from Tom Sawyer or Treasure Island – on a miniature magical train, on which Mr I. Magination was the engineer.
Each trip began with a child uttering the words “I wish I were . . .” before the tiny train chugged off to Imagination Town.
Tripp wrote most of the scripts and all of the song lyrics (which were set to music by his piano-playing colleague Ray Carter), and his pretty wife Ruth Enders appeared each week in various roles.
In a biographical sketch about PT Barnum, for example, Enders appeared as Tom Thumb’s mother, Queen Victoria, a tattooed lady, Jenny Lind and a tightrope walker.
Joe Silver and Ted Tiller provided all the other supporting roles, with quick-changes being the order of the day. Tiller played the kings of Portugal, Spain and France in a show devoted to the life of Christopher Columbus.
In addition, he appeared as a mutinous sailor on the Santa Maria and a United States senator (complete with Southern accent) who anachronistically greeted Chris and crew when they first touched the American shore.
Silver, meanwhile, led two opposing armies to battle as the King of Austria and Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, in a piece about Richard the Lionheart.
The show won accolades from educators and parents groups.
Mr I. Magination