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The Fresno Bee
Fresno, California
Monday, August 18, 1958

If you ever looked through the George Reeves Calendar on this website, you probably saw this notation for August 17, 1958:

George Reeves appeared on KJEO-TV in Fresno California as part of a telethon for Cerebral Palsy. The Fresno Bee of August 18 reported that, "At 12:30 PM... Chucko, the Los Angeles clown, and George Reeves, in his Superman guise, autographed pictures of themselves as the KJEO-TV cameras were trained on them." This was likely Reeves' final costumed TV appearance.

Until now, TAC did not have access to the actual article, but through the efforts of Carl Glass we now have a copy of The Fresno Bee article that appeared the next day. The article (shown at the bottom of this page) is hard to read, so another thank-you to Carl for typing it out for us.


CP Telethon Brings $45,770 In Pledges
By Karl M. Kidder

Win, lose or draw, the United Cerebral Palsy of Fresno County can be assured of one thing, and there are thousands who will bear witness:

No better telethon, from a standpoint of the talent appearing, plus the way it was presented, has ever been seen by San Joaquin Valley television watchers.

The result? No one knows, and will not for at least another 10 days. This much is certain: When the 17 hour long star studded show went off the air yesterday at 3 PM the tote board in the Rainbow Ballroom showed $45,770 in cash and pledges received. The goal of the campaign to help cerebral palsied is $75,000. Yet to come is the amount collected yesterday afternoon by volunteers who started a house to house canvass for financial help two hours before the telethon became history. This figure will not be known for several days.

Campaign officials, headed by James F. Mandella, the general chairman, are not optimistic the net total will be the same as that given last year--$66,008. But some are hopeful it will exceed that figure and some extreme optimists are predicting it will reach, if not top, the amount sought this year. The final figure is important because the future of Fresno's UCP Training Center for all handicapped is at stake.

Seventy five per cent of all the money collected in this, the fifth UCP campaign, stays here to help in the center's many programs. The remainder goes to finance research into the causes and cures of CP.

Some of the finest talent ever seen in a Fresno telethon did their best through song, dancing, clowning and plain pleading to keep the figures on the tote board mounting. A big zero showed when the telethon started late Saturday night. As the nigh wore on, the figure was increased bit by bit. Crowds thronged to the ballroom, and stayed through the night to watch the show. At 6 AM yesterday, there were nearly 300 persons craning their necks trying to see what was going on, on all three stages.

Slow Start

The giving during the morning hours was not spirited. About noon, it started to pick up. At 12:30 PM, the board showed $19,679. Chucko, the Los Angeles clown, and George Reeves, in his Superman guise, autographed pictures of themselves as the KJEO-TV cameras were trained on them. At 12:45 PM, the figure had reached $19,790. The Blue Notes rock n' roll band from Merced went on the air, and the audience nearly lifted the roof with applause when they finished. At 1 PM the board showed $20,286.

The bank of telephones, managed throughout the telethon by volunteers from Fresno Local 9408, Communications Workers of America, started to ring in earnest.

Interview Children

Jesse White, a TV personality from Hollywood, and Pamela DeOrion of Fresno did an impromptu jitterbug. Several CP children from the Fresno Sunshine School were interviewed by Del Gore with Preston Foster the master of ceremonies. At 1:30 PM, the giving totaled $21,912. The LeGarde twins from Australia, using stock whips, snipped pieces of paper from the mouths of several small boys. At 1:45 Pm, $23,641. Lucille Norman sang a song and Foster declared: "We're still short by $50,000. Let's go, everyone. If you can't get the money to us now, send it Palsy care of the Bank of America in Fresno." 2 PM, $24,432; Jeri Southern sang and played; 2:20 PM, $28,422, Ted LeGarde snipped a cigarette from Gore's mouth; 2:10 PM, $32,426: 2:40 PM, $32,426; 2:45 PM, $35,228; 2:55 PM, $40,296; 2:58 PM, $42,616.

Same As 1957

Robert W. Hall, the director of the center, said he will guess the financial will be about the same as last year's. He worked through the 17 hour telethon, changing shirts and socks four times. "I'm convinced this is one of the most outstanding telethons this town has ever seen." Mandella declared, "It's my first, but everyone tells me it's the fastest moving they've ever seen. After 16 hours we were right on schedule." "I can't begin to thank everyone who helped, from the volunteer marchers, to the 20 men who handled the cameras and the equipment for KJEO-TV. Don Webster, the director, Jack Riley, the music director, and Gore never left the ballroom while the show was going on. Everyone was eager to pitch in and help. The Fresno Police Reserves, the United States Marines, the Fresno Amateur Radio club, the volunteer auditors and accountants, the runners, everyone has been just wonderful. Now, I'm going to bed."

Other Entertainers

The other stars who made brief appearances yesterday morning are Elroy (Crazy-legs) Hirsch of football fame and Bill Thompson of radio and TV. [Note: Bill Thompson was a broadcaster along with Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons for the San Francisco Giants]. Some of the valley's best amateur and professional entertainers also did their bit. Scores of Fresno girls garbed in formals, did yeoman service running errands and collecting contributions from the audience. Mrs. Sheila Foster, Preston's wife and their daughter, Stephanie, went before the cameras time after time to sing, and also ask for more contributions to the CP fund.

The show ended with Miss Norman singing the UCP theme, 'You'll Never Walk Alone,' just as she opened it 17 hours earlier. Also before the cameras were 3 year old Gordon Noble, and 5 year old Estelle Hurtado. They are two Fresno moppets who are CP victims. They were theme boy and girl for the telethon.

August 29, 2009

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