|This beloved children's program (originally titled Smilin' Ed McConnell and His Buster Brown Gang) starred host Ed McConnell, who, with the aid of a revolving cast of characters and puppets including Midnight the Cat and Squeaky the Mouse, told stories and introduced filmed segments like Ghanga the Jungle Boy and Buster Brown (the shoe manufacturer was the show's sponsor). When Smilin' Ed hollered, "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!", it meant an appearance from one of the show's most popular characters, Froggy the Gremlin.
The show maintained its popularity through 1954, when, at the age of 62, Smilin' Ed passed away, leaving his young viewers a season of reruns. Gravel-throated Andy Devine took over for the departed Smilin' Ed in 1955, and the show was retitled Andy's Gang. The retooled show was broadcast only locally in New York for the rest of its run, apart from one season on NBC in 1957-58.
If there were any worries that the imposing Devine might be frightening to young children, the producers sidestepped them with a little editing magic. Andy, like Ed McConnell before him, performed for the cameras only. Stock footage of cheering kids was added later, ensuring a warm response for the large-framed host.