Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RIP Major Astro

If you grew up in the sixties and seventies watching television based out of Wichita, KS - well, you knew who Major Astro was:

From Wichita to Great Bend, Garden City to Oberlin, almost any Baby Boomer who grew up in Kansas worshipped the airwaves that beamed Major Astro.

Each afternoon, thousands of children rushed home from school and turned on black-and-white television sets to watch as Major Astro, an astronaut in a shimmery silver jumpsuit with a deep baritone voice who wished them: "Happy Orbits, boys and girls ... Everything will be A-Okay and all systems will be go."

Tom Leahy Jr., best known to generations of Kansas children as either Major Astro or the weekend movie comic horror host with a mute sidekick in the show "The Host and Rodney," died Friday from complications of open heart surgery.

He was 87.

Of course, we thought we were jaded and cool when we referred to him as Major A$$hole - but he most certainly was not. He was a welcome guest in our house, as he was in thousands. Piling out of the school bus, Sis and I would have enough time to run to the house and catch the first part of his show. Which we did countless times.

Rest well, Oh Pioneer - you've earned your way to the top of a pantheon of broadcasters everywhere.


Lisa Paul said...

We had Diver Dan who had stuffed fish, an octopus and a mermaid he cavorted with. (In a G rated sort of way.) Sort of a pre-Muppet human/puppet show.

It's so hard to explain your nostalgia for these homegrown TV heros to those who never saw them.

Anonymous said...

In my neck of the woods the favorite was Sandy Becker. I always remember him wearing glasses made of, well, glasses. As in drinking glasses. And I remember him trying to explain the assassination of JFK to us kids so we could understand it. Yes, I know I'm seriously old.

Anonymous said...

In NW Wisconsin we had Sheriff Bob on WEAU TV-13. I see there is a nice documentary about him at you tube.

Bob D.

Mo K. said...

It's amazing how far behind one can fall without a week of Internet access. And I'm soon to go without two weeks'!

Wow... looks like we all have our local TV heroes. Captain Twenty/Count Gore de Vol is still around. He was Grand Marshall at the local Halloween parade a coupla years ago.

I remember being able to get some Baltimore channels and "Captain Chesapeake"' who died in 2000. I didn't realize he was "Ghost Host", too. Guess they all wore many hats back then.