You Can’t Do That on Television Actor – Les Lye

One of trademarks of Nickelodeon, the children television network, is green slime. Does anyone remember why?

It all started with a little show called “You Can’t Do That on Television.” The program started in 1979 for a Canadian television station but was picked up by Nickelodeon in 1981. It ran on the network till 1994. Whenever anyone during the show said the words “I don’t know” a bucket of green goo would pour over their head. It soon became a popular skit and was a staple on the children’s program. So slime was born.

The Many Faces of Les Lye

The Many Faces of Les Lye

I enjoyed watching the show not for the slime but for the sense of humor that was in all the skits. “You Can’t Do That on Television” reminded me of a kid’s version of Monty Python at times.

It was not just the comedy writing but the actors who were in the cast of regulars on the show. One of the adult cast members was Les Lye who played everything from a tyrannical schoolteacher to a bumbling football coach. It is Les Lye who has taken his Final Taxi.

Many may remember Lye’s most popular character Ross, the studio director, who gave bad advice to the child actors. He had a trademark clipboard and studio headset and was featured on the show’s opening credits. Another character was the dirty and disgusting burger chef named Barth whose catch phrase was “I heard that!”

Lye started working in television in 1958 and moved to children’s programming in 1961. His show “Uncle Willy and Floyd” lasted for 22 years on Canadian TV. It was there that he met a young actress and singer who he would bring back later on “You Can’t Do That on Television”, Alanis Morissette.

In 2003, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Alliance of Canadian Cinema. Les Lye was 84.

New Riders of the Purple Sage’s John Dawson

Back in the mid-1970’s I was tried of the music being played on the radio. There was too much disco or top 40 fare for my taste. I decided to go retro with my music and looked at more music from the 60’s. With help from Gary Bourgeois at Charlemagne Records, I was introduced to Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead. I was not really a ” dead-head” but like a few of their tunes. Gary also turned me on to a country off shoot of the Dead called New Riders of the Purple Sage.

New Rider band members included John Dawson, David Nelson, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh and Grateful Dead regular, Jerry Garcia. I bought their album “The Adventures of Panama Red,” which was from 1973. Songs that stuck out for me were “Friend of the Devil,” and “Panama Red”. Both of these songs were written and sung by John Dawson, considered by many as the leader of this band. It is John Dawson who has taken his Final Taxi.

The band came together in the late 60’s when Jerry Garcia wanted to learn the pedal-steel guitar. He started jamming with John Dawson onstage at small clubs playing Bob Dylan covers, country standards and some traditional bluegrass. Dawson started adding his own original songs in the mix and the duo planned on forming a band. Garcia suggested Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh, since they had play together in the Dead. David Nelson was also added. Dawson came up with the name for the band from an old Zane Grey paperback titled “Riders of the Purple Sage.”

New Riders of the Purple Sage has disbanded and reforming in various stages throughout the years and John Dawson has been a part of all of them until the 2005 tour when he was too sick to play due to stomach cancer. Dawson was 64.

The Talking Taco Bell Dog

The first Taco Bell restaurant I went to in the late 1970’s was in Roebuck Alabama. It was small and a little bit on the expensive side for the prices they charge now. I remember the food was good and I loved the fact that I could order an individual taco or burrito and not have to buy a huge meal.

I started becoming more aware of Taco Bell for two reasons. One was the lower prices. The second was a little mascot that made the whole world stand up and take notice.
A small Chihuahua with a voice like Cheech Marin spoke to American audiences and declared in Spanish “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”

The public adored the cute little dog whose name was Gidget. Her image was placed on everything from t-shirts to Frisbees. Taco Bell made many commercials with the pup including my favorite where Gidget is hunting Godzilla in a movie tie-in and calling out ” Here lizard, lizard, lizard.”

It was announced that Gidget took her Final Taxi after suffered a massive stroke on Tuesday at her owner’s home. The famous Chihuahua was 15.

Gidget had kept busy acting even after the Taco Bell commercials. She worked along side the animated lizard in a 2002 GEICO insurance commercial and played the mother of Reese Witherspoon’s dog in “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” in 2003.

Voice Actor- Dallas McKennon

One of my favorite things in life has always been listening to records. As a child my mother would reward me for doing my chores by taking me the big Sears and Roebuck store in downtown Birmingham. Once in the record section I would cruise through the vinyl till I got to the children’s corner. There I would buy a 45 RPM of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear, or the long forgotten Super Dupers. About 90% of what I had was from Disneyland Records. The person that I heard on those Disneyland Records was a man called Dallas McKennon. The final taxi has taken another great voice actor.

Dallas McKennon 89 is voice that you may have heard during a trip to your favorite Disney location. Just before you get on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, you would hear “Hold on to your hats and glasses! This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!” That recorded voice was that of McKennon.

McKennon will be heard in several Disney films including Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Lady & the Tramp, and 101 Dalmatians.

When CBS decided to make an animated series out of the popular Archie comic book, they chose McKennon to voice the main character of Archie. The show debuted in September 1968 and aired, in various forms, until 1978.

In the 50’s McKennon hosted a children’s TV show and was asked to voice a new stop action animated short about a green clay humanoid figure and his many adventures. The show was called Gumby and it ran a total of 233-episodes. I still love watching these and hearing McKennon’s one of a kind voice.

If you still do not know who Dallas McKennon is you may remember him from his live action roles. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds will recall the cook who yells, “Don’t throw that match!” in the gas station scene where the birds attacked people outside the restaurant . On the Daniel Boone TV series with Fess Parker, he had a recurring role as Cinncinatus, the old storekeeper. He was also in the Elvis Presley move Clambake.