1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 7 (USA)
Praised as the first “interactive” TV show, the show’s central gimmick was the use of a “magic window”, a large piece of clear clingy acetate which stuck to the television screen via static electricity.
A kit containing the magic window; various Winky Dink crayons, and an erasing cloth could be purchased by sending 50 cents to Box 5, New York 19, New York – as the host Jack Barry mentioned many times in each episode.
Billboard reported in 1954 that viewers bought 4,000 kits during the show’s first month, followed by sales averaging 30,000 kits weekly. Within its first year, the series had sold 1,250,000 kits.
At a climactic scene in every Winky Dink short, Winky (a large-headed boy with a shock of star-shaped blonde hair voiced by Mae Questel) would arrive upon a scene that contained a connect-the-dots picture.
Jack Barry would then prompt the children at home to complete the picture, and the finished result would help Winky Dink and his dog Woofer (voiced by Dayton Allen) out of their predicaments.
If Winky Dink and Woofer were stuck on the side of a stream, for example, viewers with “magic windows” could draw a bridge for them to cross over, a ladder to climb, or an escape hatch.
Dayton Allen also played the live-action character of comically trouble-prone Mr Bungle, who did skits with Barry.
The CBS show was a big hit with baby boomers, some of whom apparently didn’t have 50 cents for a “magic window” and drew directly on their TV screens!
Winky Dink and You ran for many years in syndication. A colour animated version was also produced in 1969, with voices provided by Lionel G Wilson.
Creator Louis ‘Deke’ Heyward died of complications from pneumonia on 26 March 2002 in Los Angeles. He was 81.