|Though the show was created in 1953 for WBAL-TV, a local station in Baltimore, Romper Room's lively spirit proved so popular with children that by the late 1950s, the show had spread to more than 100 stations across the country.
Bert and Nancy Claster were the original minds behind the show, with Nancy—known as Miss Nancy to early Romper Room fans—as the original hostess. Each show featured games for the (lucky) in-studio kids to play, and cleverly interspersed between the games were lessons that have become children's classics, such as "look both ways before crossing the street." Such advice was dispensed in a fun, friendly fashion by Miss Nancy and her sidekick, a yellowjacket named Mr. Doo Bee. The show always ended with the hostess looking through her "Magic Mirror" to "see" the kids watching the show from home. For one brief moment, they were as cool as the in-studio kids.
Within a year, CBS wanted to pick up the show, but the Clasters had a more profitable idea. They decided to franchise Romper Room to different stations, with each show run by a hostess personally trained by Miss Nancy, and featuring most of the same toys and games featured on the original show.
By 1963, 119 stations had their own Romper Rooms. That same year, Nancy retired from her hosting duties, though she still continued to train. Each host—always a college graduate—had to go through an intensive one-week course with Miss Nancy. By show's end, she had trained over 500 women.
But by 1981, a thousand shows later, stations decided it was easier to buy already-produced shows. Claster Television obliged, offering a syndicated version called Romper Room & Friends. The revamped room was hosted by Miss Molly McCloskey (with help from puppets Kimble, UpUp and Granny Cat) and produced by Bert and Nancy's daughter, Sally—a former hostess herself. Romper Room & Friends did fairly well, until a 1984 FCC decision to relax the standards for decent children's programming made the show seem a bit tame for the times.
The show was last produced in April of '91, with stations receiving 85 episodes in a revised format. Those episodes ran until 1994.