|Like real school, Ding Dong School began with a bell. When the three-year-old daughter of producer Reinald Werrenrath saw this in the opening sequence, out popped what would become the show's title (In those days, "Ding Dong" meant neither "stupid person" nor "chocolatey pastry").
For many preschoolers of the time, Dr. Frances Horwich-or as the kids knew her, Miss Frances-was the best teacher ever. As host of this educational show, Miss Frances and her lessons proved to be a big hit with kids, parents, sponsors, and NBC.
Miss Frances, who had been a former chair of Roosevelt College of Education and a specialist in children’s education, would talk to the children at home as though she were right there with them. She would even add little comments at the end of her demonstrations, such as, “What do you think of that?” or, “Wasn’t that fun?" and pause for the children at home to answer.
Ding Dong School consisted of demonstrations in finger painting, modeling clay, paper cutting, etc., and featured singing, reading, and interviews. Miss Frances would sometimes use the assistance of dolls Susie and Raggedy Andy, puppets Lucky the Rabbit and Jocko the Monkey, as well as three live goldfish-Wynken, Blynken and Nod.
Two years after the show began, Ding Dong School was broadcast in color, and Horwich was assigned as supervisor of all of NBC’s children's programming.
Unfortunately, after another two years, the network and sponsors lost interest in Ding Dong School, pursuing bigger money with The Price Is Right.
Disgusted by the turn of events, Horwich resigned from her position as supervisor of children’s programming. She stated that “with the lack of teachers and shortage of schools, many boys and girls are attending classes on a half-day basis. Ding Dong School filled a need.”
But no one dismisses Miss Frances without her permission. Since Horwich owned the rights to the show, she moved it to Los Angeles, where she filmed and taped an additional 130 episodes. School wasn't out for the summer just yet.