Sunday, 24 April 2011

A True Classic - Champion the Wonder Horse: 1955

Champion the Wonder Horse Champion the Wonder Horse
Champion the Wonder Horse
Champion the Wonder Horse" was an all time School Holiday classic. I seem to remember watching this program wishing I had a dog like Rebel who was actually intelligent & useful. Champion, as you have no doubt already guessed, was a horse but this was no ordinary horse. This horse had a brain in his head and would always come to the aid of Ricky and Sandy North who owned a ranch somewhere out on the South West frontier. The time is supped to be the late 1880s and the boy Ricky does not have any parents or they were never mentioned in the series. Ricky lived and worked on the ranch owned by his uncle Sandy. Ricky had befriended a wild stallion whom he called "Champion" or "Champ" for short. Champion was never really a pet, he ran free all over the country but was always there for Ricky. I may be wrong here but I seem to remember that only Ricky (and perhaps occasionally Uncle Sandy for emergency use only) was permitted to ride the horse. Champion would reject all other riders. Champion would always save the day turning up just in the nick of time to rescue Ricky, Sandy, Rebel or any of the good guys whilst foiling the evil plots of the bad guys.
Ricky
The horse Champion actually belonged to Gene Autry who produced the later episodes. Champion was also the only horse ever to visit the top of the Empire State Building (not entirely sure why). Gene Autry actually had several "Champions" as the one that made him famous was not the same was as that which appeared in the television series. Champion was the name given to a series of stallions who were able to perform a wide variety of tricks when performing in front of an audience. Sadly Gene Autry died in 1998 after starring in nearly one hundred films not counting the vast number of television series he was also involved in and the countless themes he composed for the film industry. A remarkable man with a a remarkable talent. Alas, the show didn't last too long - but it was one of the earliest television shows that was centered around the adventures of an animal (and in many episodes, where the animal outsmarted the human). This latter theme of having clever animals was later picked up by the television in the 1970s with children or gangs being accompanied by animals and/or pets.
Uncle Sandy Rebel the dog
First shown on C.B.S. back in 1955, this little adventure series only ran for a few years before it was dropped. I believe a total of twenty six episodes were made for television each lasting around 25 minutes. The B.B.C. then picked it up in the early 1960s and continued showing it right through the 1970s. It was a hugely popular series in the United Kingdom and kept myself and my sister glued to the television during those lazy summer months. This has to rank with the highest in terms of popularity with kids during the 1960-1970s era.

The opening lyrics of the song were performed by Norman Luboff. Frankie Lane did record a version of it and is often credited with the recording but he does not sing on the original transmissions.

Original verse (used in episode One)

Champion the Wonder Horse

Like a streak o' lightening flashing cross the sky

Like the swiftest arrow whizzing from a bow

Like a mighty cannon ball he seems to fly

You'll hear about him everywhere you go

The time will come when everyone will know the name of

Champion the Wonder Horse

Champion the Wonder Horse

Original verse (used in episode Two)

Champion the Wonder Horse

Like a streak o' lightening flashing cross the sky

Like the swiftest arrow whizzing from a bow

Like a mighty cannon ball he seems to fly

You'll hear about him everywhere you go

Out West there's not man who doesn't know the name of

Champion the Wonder Horse

Champion the Wonder Horse

Champion the Wonder Horse Credits Champion the Wonder Horse Credits

Champion the Wonder Horse Credits Champion the Wonder Horse Credits

Champion the Wonder Horse Credits Champion the Wonder Horse Credits

Champion the Wonder Horse Credits

And so would end another chapter of the school holiday television history. A classic from start to finish but from a very much different era. Sadly that era has completely gone from our television screens but a little of it still remains here on Ado's Blog. Hopefully it will stir a few memories of happier times when we could not wait for the schoolbell to ring on the last day of the Summer term.

. video

No comments:

Post a Comment