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The Circus Comes To Television Amidst marionettes, puppets, and cartoons, ABC, then the up and coming third network, took a Saturday kiddee flyer with Claude Kirschner's "Super Circus." It was one of the first kid series to go off-network syndication on the independent stations as "Big Top Circus." Then again, "Dragnet" was syndied as "Badge 714."

Claude Kirschner Claude Kirschner is best known as ringmaster, also producer, of the circus variety program, which debuted in Chicago in 1949 on ABC-TV. Sponsored by Kellogg's cereals, this popular family oriented program featured Mary Hartline, the Ringmaster's sexy, platinum blonde assistant who twirled her baton through an hour of trapeze artists, elephants and a trio of clowns named Cliffy, Scampy, and Nicky. "Cliffy" Sobier was the head clown in this group of zany circus performers. Both Cliffy and Scampy, his sidekick (Bardy Patton/Sandy Dobritch) had bald heads, cherry red noses and oversized shoes. The series later moved to New York in 1955 with comedian Jerry Colonna taking over the reigns as Ringmaster with Sandy Wirth as his assistant who replaced Mary Hartline. In addition, clowns Cliffy, Scampy and Nicky were longer part of the festivities.

After Kirchner left the big budgeted Big Top Circus, he did a ten year stint at WOR-TV channel 9 in New York as the host and ringmaster of the basement budgeted, cartoon filled Terry Toon Circus. The show opened with Kirchner's clown sidekick "Clowny" breaking through a paper covered hoop. He then said "Here he is, the one and only - 'Skinny-bones' " (a reference to Kirchner's physical stature). The show ended at 6:30pm each night with Kirchner saying "And now it's time for all good little boys and girls to go to bed." It was only 1PM.

In 1949 Kirchner had been the announcer on the TV series Ladies Be Seated (the title wouldn't go down easy now), a syndicated quiz show with stunts and prizes.

Born in Rostock Germany in 1916, Claude Kirchner died from cancer (lymphoma) on March 8, 1993 in Hawthorne, New York.

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