|"Yoo hoo! It's me!"
This zany, half-hour children's variety show left such an indelible impression on its young audience that its after effects still resonate in much of today's modern programming.
Pinky Lee, a brash, uninhibited performer, clicked with the kids by bringing a frenzied circus clown type of slapstick to daytime TV, the likes of which had not been seen before.
The show was set in the Happy Town Circus, and featured a checkered-suited Pinky clowning his way through comedy sketches, songs, dance numbers, and special features like "Game Time." The latter segment, which featured bizarre and unusual competitions, was a clear forerunner to the wacky children's game shows that populated Nickelodeon in later decades. But Pinky's most obvious heir apparent was Pee-Wee Herman, whose 1980's Pee-Wee's Playhouse was heavily influenced by The Pinky Lee Show.
Perhaps the most famous incident on The Pinky Lee Show occurred in 1955, when Pinky clutched his throat, shouted, "Somebody help me!," and passed out. The press reported a heart attack, but it turned out to be a sinus condition. In the end, it was not poor health that did Pinky in, but rising powerhouse The Mickey Mouse Club, which debuted near the end of 1955 and soon eclipsed Pinky's show.