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==Early life and career==
==Early life and career==
Jackson was born in [[Unionville, Missouri]].{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=135}} His father worked with a traveling [[carnival]]. He said he was very influenced by both comic strips and comic books, with ''[[Li'l Abner]]'' and [[Donald Duck]] being his favorites.<ref name=Toon>{{cite web|url=http://www.toonarific.com/interview.php?interview_id=1 |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20171119194417/http://www.toonarific.com/interview.php?interview_id=1 |title=Bill Jackson Interview |date=April 1, 2001 |publisher=Toonarific |archive-date=November 19, 2017 |format=Wayback Machine |access-date=22 January 2022 }}</ref> Jackson graduated from the [[University of Missouri]]'s school of journalism with a degree in television production in 1957, but did not get interested in puppetry until later.<ref name=Trib/><ref name=Toon/> His first broadcasting job was at [[KTVO]] in [[Ottumwa, Iowa]], where he was a weatherman, copywriter and the station's art director. After a year at the station, Jackson joined the army and was assigned to [[Armed Forces Network]] in Hollywood. It was here where he created his first puppets.<ref name=Book>{{cite book|title=The Only Kid on the Carnival|editor-last=Jackson|editor-first=Bill|year=2008|publisher=IUniverse|page=228|isbn=978-0-595-51748-0}}</ref> His earliest appearance in children's television was in 1960 when he hosted a program in [[Fort Wayne]], Indiana, called the ''Popeye and Little Rascals Club''; this was broadcast for two years (Bill Jackson). The show was such a success that he moved on to [[Indianapolis]] for another three years (Bill Jackson) with the ''[[Mickey Mouse Club]]'' on WLWI (now [[WTHR]]), later renamed ''The Bill Jackson Show'', where he created his most enduring character, [[Dirty Dragon]], based on a friend in Indianapolis.<ref name=Toon/> Jackson said "Cartoon Town" was based on the small town he grew up in and some of his puppet characters were based on some of his Unionville neighbors, and that the character "Weird" was based on a Chicago friend.<ref name=Toon/> His work attracted the attention of [[WBBM-TV]] in [[Chicago]], which gave him a program in 1965, known variously as ''Clown Alley'' (weekday version) or ''Here Comes Freckles'' (Sunday morning version). Unfortunately, in spite of wide critical praise, the show drew poor ratings largely because it was broadcast early in the morning, and was cancelled after two seasons. Jackson played the title character, Freckles the Clown; although many of the puppet characters continued to appear on later series, Jackson usually played himself (or "B.J.", as his puppet co-stars called him) throughout the remainder of his career.<ref name=Trib/>{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|pp=139-140}}{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=104}}
Jackson was born in [[Unionville, Missouri]].{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=135}} His father worked with a traveling [[carnival]]. He said he was very influenced by both comic strips and comic books, with ''[[Li'l Abner]]'' and [[Donald Duck]] being his favorites.<ref name=Toon>{{cite web|url=http://www.toonarific.com/interview.php?interview_id=1 |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20171119194417/http://www.toonarific.com/interview.php?interview_id=1 |title=Bill Jackson Interview |date=April 1, 2001 |publisher=Toonarific |archive-date=November 19, 2017 |format=Wayback Machine |access-date=22 January 2022 }}</ref> Jackson graduated from the [[University of Missouri]]'s school of journalism with a degree in television production in 1957, but did not get interested in puppetry until later.<ref name=Trib/><ref name=Toon/>

His first broadcasting job was at [[KTVO]] in [[Ottumwa, Iowa]], where he was a weatherman, copywriter and the station's art director. After a year at the station, Jackson joined the army and was assigned to the [[Armed Forces Network]] in Hollywood. It was there that he created his first puppets.<ref name=Book>{{cite book|title=The Only Kid on the Carnival|editor-last=Jackson|editor-first=Bill|year=2008|publisher=IUniverse|page=228|isbn=978-0-595-51748-0}}</ref>

His earliest appearance in children's television was in 1960 when he hosted a program in [[Fort Wayne]], Indiana, called the ''Popeye and Little Rascals Club''; this was broadcast for two years. The show was such a success that he moved on to [[Indianapolis]] for another three years with the ''[[Mickey Mouse Club]]'' on WLWI (now [[WTHR]]), later renamed ''The Bill Jackson Show'', where he created his most enduring character, [[Dirty Dragon]], based on a friend in Indianapolis.<ref name=Toon/> Jackson said "Cartoon Town" was based on the small town he grew up in and some of his puppet characters were based on some of his Unionville neighbors, and that the character "Weird" was based on a Chicago friend.<ref name=Toon/>

His work attracted the attention of [[WBBM-TV]] in [[Chicago]], which gave him a program in 1965, known variously as ''Clown Alley'' (weekday version) or ''Here Comes Freckles'' (Sunday morning version). Unfortunately, in spite of wide critical praise, the show drew poor ratings, largely because it was broadcast early in the morning, and was cancelled after two seasons. Jackson played the title character, Freckles the Clown; although many of the puppet characters continued to appear on later series, Jackson usually played himself (or "B.J.", as his puppet co-stars called him) throughout the remainder of his career.<ref name=Trib/>{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|pp=139-140}}{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=104}}


==Chicago==
==Chicago==
Jackson's work did not go unnoticed, however, and he was hired by another Chicago station, the then-independent [[WFLD]], which was looking for a show to go opposite [[WGN-TV]]'s highly popular ''[[Garfield Goose and Friends]]''. Jackson, a gifted artist, comedian and puppeteer, responded in 1968 with a program initially called ''Cartoon Town'', but later renamed ''[[The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show]]''. It was here that Jackson, playing the mayor of the cartoon town, reached great heights with characters such as Dirty Dragon, "Weird" and "Wally Goodscout", "Mother Plumtree", the "Old Professor", and a town monument called "Blob" (no relation to the movie) who was made of clay and could, with Jackson's help, assume any form.{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=139-141}}{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=104}} Jackson wrote and produced the show, performed all of the puppet characters' voices, built and designed the sets and puppets.<ref name=IN/> The show featured a variety of cartoons, including ''[[Underdog (TV series)|Underdog]]'', ''[[Popeye the Sailor (1960s TV series)|Popeye]]'' (the early 1960s made-for-TV King Features version), "Out Of The Inkwell" (the made-for-TV version produced by Hal Seeger) and ''[[George Of The Jungle]]''. The show was broadcast for five years on WFLD, but ended after the station's owner, Field Communications, sold an interest to Kaiser Broadcasting, and Kaiser streamlined local productions on its group of stations.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/tv/chicago_kiddie_tvs_clown_princ_1.php|title=The Clown Prince of Chicago Kiddie TV|author=Buckner, Scott|publisher=The Beachwood Reporter|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> The final WFLD episode (#1311) was broadcast July 27, 1973; one month later, The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show (now set in "Carefree Corners") began a one-year run on WGN.{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=105}} Meanwhile, Jackson began commuting between Chicago and New York, where he produced and hosted another local show, ''BJ's Bunch'', featuring many of the same characters.{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=149}}<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.tvparty.com/lostny2jackson.html|title=Bill Jackson|publisher=TV Party|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> By the fall of 1974, WGN cancelled The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show, after which Jackson produced a one-shot holiday special, A Gift For Granny, which aired on WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC affiliate.<ref name=Trib/>
Jackson's work did not go unnoticed, however, and he was hired by another Chicago station, the then-independent [[WFLD]], which was looking for a show to go opposite [[WGN-TV]]'s highly popular ''[[Garfield Goose and Friends]]''. Jackson, a gifted artist, comedian and puppeteer, responded in 1968 with a program initially called ''Cartoon Town'', but later renamed ''[[The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show]]''. It was here that Jackson, playing the mayor of the cartoon town, reached great heights with characters such as Dirty Dragon, "Weird" and "Wally Goodscout", "Mother Plumtree", the "Old Professor", and a town monument called "Blob" which was made of clay and could, with Jackson's help, assume any form.{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=139-141}}{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=104}} Jackson wrote and produced the show, performed all of the puppet characters' voices, and built and designed the sets and puppets.<ref name=IN/> The show featured a variety of cartoons, including ''[[Underdog (TV series)|Underdog]]'', ''[[Popeye the Sailor (1960s TV series)|Popeye]]'' (the early 1960s made-for-TV King Features version), "Out Of The Inkwell" (the made-for-TV version produced by Hal Seeger) and ''[[George Of The Jungle]]''. The show was broadcast for five years on WFLD, but ended after the station's owner, Field Communications, sold an interest to Kaiser Broadcasting, and Kaiser streamlined local productions on its group of stations.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/tv/chicago_kiddie_tvs_clown_princ_1.php|title=The Clown Prince of Chicago Kiddie TV|author=Buckner, Scott|publisher=The Beachwood Reporter|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> The final WFLD episode (#1311) was broadcast July 27, 1973; one month later, ''The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show'' (now set in "Carefree Corners") began a one-year run on WGN.{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=105}}

Meanwhile, Jackson began commuting between Chicago and New York, where he produced and hosted another local show, ''BJ's Bunch'', featuring many of the same characters.{{sfn|Okuda and Mulqueen|2004|p=149}}<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.tvparty.com/lostny2jackson.html|title=Bill Jackson|publisher=TV Party|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> By the fall of 1974, WGN cancelled The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show, after which Jackson produced a one-shot holiday special, ''A Gift For Granny'', which aired on WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC affiliate.<ref name=Trib/>


==Later career==
==Later career==
Jackson and his puppets next appeared in the educationally themed program ''[[Gigglesnort Hotel]]'' in 1975, which brought most of the old Cartoon Town characters back, plus a few new creations. Produced and broadcast by WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC affiliate, the show was very popular with critics, though less so with the public, and ran for three seasons. Jackson said his influence for the show was ''[[Fawlty Towers]]''.<ref name=Toon/> He made a final program called ''Firehouse Follies'' using the characters in 1979-1980, then left television to teach at [[California Institute of the Arts]] for the School of Film/Video for 12 years, retiring in 1990.<ref name=Trib/><ref>{{cite news|url=http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1979/11/25/page/324/article/firehouse-fllies|title=Firehouse Follies|author=Hafferkamp, Jack|date=November 25, 1979|page=6|publisher=TV Week-Chicago Tribune|access-date=April 24, 2015}}</ref> In a 2001 interview, Jackson expressed some frustration at seemingly not being able to fit into the criteria established for children's programming on network television. He said, "I am not "teachy" enough for PBS and am not considered worthy enough for Nickelodeon."<ref name=Toon/> By the end of its run, Gigglesnort Hotel was syndicated nationally, and reruns continued to air on WLS in Chicago through 1985. Several episodes were released by Karl-Lorimar Home Video in the 1980s in a series of six volumes, one of which actually consisted of two holiday specials Jackson produced in California after he left Chicago: ''Billy Joe's Thanksgiving'' --aka ''Salute To The Turkey''-- and a later remake of ''A Gift For Granny'', which featured a green incarnation of Dirty Dragon and a female voice artist as Mother Plumtree.<ref name=Trib/>
Jackson and his puppets next appeared in the educationally themed program ''[[Gigglesnort Hotel]]'' in 1975, which brought most of the old Cartoon Town characters back, plus a few new creations. Produced and broadcast by WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC affiliate, the show was very popular with critics, though less so with the public, and ran for three seasons. Jackson said his influence for the show was ''[[Fawlty Towers]]''.<ref name=Toon/> He made a final program called ''Firehouse Follies'' using the characters in 1979-1980, then left television to teach at [[California Institute of the Arts]] for the School of Film/Video for 12 years, retiring in 1990.<ref name=Trib/><ref>{{cite news|url=http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1979/11/25/page/324/article/firehouse-fllies|title=Firehouse Follies|author=Hafferkamp, Jack|date=November 25, 1979|page=6|publisher=TV Week-Chicago Tribune|access-date=April 24, 2015}}</ref>

In a 2001 interview, Jackson expressed some frustration at seemingly not being able to fit into the criteria established for children's programming on network television. He said, "I am not "teachy" enough for PBS and am not considered worthy enough for Nickelodeon."<ref name=Toon/> By the end of its run, Gigglesnort Hotel was syndicated nationally, and reruns continued to air on WLS in Chicago through 1985. Several episodes were released by Karl-Lorimar Home Video in the 1980s in a series of six volumes, one of which consisted of two holiday specials Jackson produced in California after he left Chicago: ''Billy Joe's Thanksgiving'' --aka ''Salute To The Turkey''-- and a later remake of ''A Gift For Granny'', which featured a green incarnation of Dirty Dragon and a female voice artist as Mother Plumtree.<ref name=Trib/>

In later years, Jackson started a website to sell DVDs of his old programs online.<ref name=Trib/> He lived quietly in California with his wife, Jo. While his shows were on the air, Jackson received two [[Iris Award]]s for the best locally produced children's show in the United States, as well as local [[Emmy]]s for the shows and his role in them.<ref name=IN/><ref name=Illinois>{{cite web|url=http://illinoisentertainer.com/2009/10/media-november-2009/|title=Last Chance To Gigglesnort|publisher=Illinois Entertainer|date=October 30, 2009|access-date=February 14, 2011}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.natpe.org/natpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=586 |title=IRIS Awards |publisher=National Associates of Television Program Executives |access-date=February 14, 2011 |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20110402231329/http://www.natpe.org/natpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=586 |archive-date=April 2, 2011 |url-status=dead }}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1978-Emmy-Recipients.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1977–1978|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022}}([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1976-1977.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1976–1977|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022}}([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1971-1972.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1971–1972|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022 }}([[PDF]])</ref>

In 2005, he became a member of the Chicago chapter of the [[National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences]] Silver Circle.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2013/04/bill_jackson.pdf|title=Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=February 13, 2011}} ([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://chicagoemmyonline.org/awards/past-chicago-silver-circle-inductees-2/|title=Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees|year=2005|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> Ten years earlier, he donated all his original puppets to Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications.{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=105}}


In recent years, Jackson has started a website to sell DVDs of his old programs online.<ref name=Trib/> He lived quietly in California with his wife, Jo. While his shows were on the air, Jackson received two [[Iris Award]]s for the best locally produced children's show in the United States, as well as local [[Emmy]]s for the shows and his role in them.<ref name=IN/><ref name=Illinois>{{cite web|url=http://illinoisentertainer.com/2009/10/media-november-2009/|title=Last Chance To Gigglesnort|publisher=Illinois Entertainer|date=October 30, 2009|access-date=February 14, 2011}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.natpe.org/natpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=586 |title=IRIS Awards |publisher=National Associates of Television Program Executives |access-date=February 14, 2011 |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20110402231329/http://www.natpe.org/natpe/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=586 |archive-date=April 2, 2011 |url-status=dead }}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1978-Emmy-Recipients.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1977–1978|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022}}([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1976-1977.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1976–1977|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022}}([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=https://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2021/05/1971-1972.pdf|title=Chicago Emmy Awards|year=1971–1972|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=22 January 2022 }}([[PDF]])</ref> In 2005, he became a member of the Chicago chapter of the [[National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences]] Silver Circle.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://chicagoemmyonline.org/files/2013/04/bill_jackson.pdf|title=Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=February 13, 2011}} ([[PDF]])</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://chicagoemmyonline.org/awards/past-chicago-silver-circle-inductees-2/|title=Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees|year=2005|publisher=Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> Ten years earlier, he donated all his original puppets to Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications.{{sfn|Hollis|2001|p=105}} In 2008 he published a memoir called ''The Only Kid on the Carnival''.<ref name=Book/> In 2009, he produced a documentary, ''Remembering Cartoon Town and B.J. & Dirty Dragon''. Jackson said in an interview when the DVD was released, that many of the ''Cartoon Town'' episodes were not preserved.<ref name=IN>{{cite web|url=http://www.nwitimes.com/entertainment/columnists/offbeat/article_63530c12-60e8-5085-bdb9-b1461d78c6d1.html|title=B. J. and Dirty Dragon remembered with new DVD documentary|author=Potempa, Phillip|date=July 26, 2011|publisher=NorthWest Indiana Times|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> Jackson also appeared for a presentation for the [[Museum of Broadcast Communications]], "Saturday Morning with B.J. and Dirty Dragon: Bill Jackson, Live in Person—One Last Time", in December 2009. He indicated this would be his last time appearing as a performer.<ref name=Illinois/><ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.museum.tv/newssection.php?page=535 |title=B.J. and Dirty Dragon's Bill Jackson to Revisit the Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television with LIVE Performance |date=November 12, 2009 |publisher=Museum of Broadcast Communications |access-date=February 13, 2011 |url-status=dead |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20101205024728/https://www.museum.tv/newssection.php?page=535 |archive-date=December 5, 2010 }}</ref>
In 2008 he published a memoir called ''The Only Kid on the Carnival''.<ref name=Book/> In 2009, he produced a documentary, ''Remembering Cartoon Town and B.J. & Dirty Dragon''. Jackson said in an interview when the DVD was released that many of the ''Cartoon Town'' episodes were not preserved.<ref name=IN>{{cite web|url=http://www.nwitimes.com/entertainment/columnists/offbeat/article_63530c12-60e8-5085-bdb9-b1461d78c6d1.html|title=B. J. and Dirty Dragon remembered with new DVD documentary|author=Potempa, Phillip|date=July 26, 2011|publisher=NorthWest Indiana Times|access-date=February 13, 2011}}</ref> Jackson also appeared for a presentation for the [[Museum of Broadcast Communications]], "Saturday Morning with B.J. and Dirty Dragon: Bill Jackson, Live in Person—One Last Time", in December 2009. He indicated this would be his last time appearing as a performer.<ref name=Illinois/><ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.museum.tv/newssection.php?page=535 |title=B.J. and Dirty Dragon's Bill Jackson to Revisit the Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television with LIVE Performance |date=November 12, 2009 |publisher=Museum of Broadcast Communications |access-date=February 13, 2011 |url-status=dead |archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20101205024728/https://www.museum.tv/newssection.php?page=535 |archive-date=December 5, 2010 }}</ref>


==Death==
==Death==

Revision as of 00:21, 25 January 2022

Bill Jackson
Bill Jackson Chicagoland area mall appearance, Spring of 1969.jpg
Jackson greets viewers at a personal appearance at a Chicago area mall, 1969
Born
Bill Ray Jackson

(1935-09-15)September 15, 1935
DiedJanuary 17, 2022(2022-01-17) (aged 86)
Spouse(s)Jo
Career
ShowPopeye and Little Rascals' Club
Mickey Mouse Club (local-Indianapolis)
The Bill Jackson Show
Clown Alley
Here Comes Freckles
Cartoon Town
The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show
BJ's Bunch
Gigglesnort Hotel
Firehouse Follies
Station(s)KTVO
WLWI
WBBM-TV
WFLD
WGN-TV
WNBC-TV
WLS-TV

Bill Ray Jackson (September 15, 1935 – January 17, 2022) was an American television personality, cartoonist and educator. He was best known for having hosted the children's programs The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show and Gigglesnort Hotel.[1]

Early life and career

Jackson was born in Unionville, Missouri.[2] His father worked with a traveling carnival. He said he was very influenced by both comic strips and comic books, with Li'l Abner and Donald Duck being his favorites.[3] Jackson graduated from the University of Missouri's school of journalism with a degree in television production in 1957, but did not get interested in puppetry until later.[1][3]

His first broadcasting job was at KTVO in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he was a weatherman, copywriter and the station's art director. After a year at the station, Jackson joined the army and was assigned to the Armed Forces Network in Hollywood. It was there that he created his first puppets.[4]

His earliest appearance in children's television was in 1960 when he hosted a program in Fort Wayne, Indiana, called the Popeye and Little Rascals Club; this was broadcast for two years. The show was such a success that he moved on to Indianapolis for another three years with the Mickey Mouse Club on WLWI (now WTHR), later renamed The Bill Jackson Show, where he created his most enduring character, Dirty Dragon, based on a friend in Indianapolis.[3] Jackson said "Cartoon Town" was based on the small town he grew up in and some of his puppet characters were based on some of his Unionville neighbors, and that the character "Weird" was based on a Chicago friend.[3]

His work attracted the attention of WBBM-TV in Chicago, which gave him a program in 1965, known variously as Clown Alley (weekday version) or Here Comes Freckles (Sunday morning version). Unfortunately, in spite of wide critical praise, the show drew poor ratings, largely because it was broadcast early in the morning, and was cancelled after two seasons. Jackson played the title character, Freckles the Clown; although many of the puppet characters continued to appear on later series, Jackson usually played himself (or "B.J.", as his puppet co-stars called him) throughout the remainder of his career.[1][5][6]

Chicago

Jackson's work did not go unnoticed, however, and he was hired by another Chicago station, the then-independent WFLD, which was looking for a show to go opposite WGN-TV's highly popular Garfield Goose and Friends. Jackson, a gifted artist, comedian and puppeteer, responded in 1968 with a program initially called Cartoon Town, but later renamed The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show. It was here that Jackson, playing the mayor of the cartoon town, reached great heights with characters such as Dirty Dragon, "Weird" and "Wally Goodscout", "Mother Plumtree", the "Old Professor", and a town monument called "Blob" which was made of clay and could, with Jackson's help, assume any form.[7][6] Jackson wrote and produced the show, performed all of the puppet characters' voices, and built and designed the sets and puppets.[8] The show featured a variety of cartoons, including Underdog, Popeye (the early 1960s made-for-TV King Features version), "Out Of The Inkwell" (the made-for-TV version produced by Hal Seeger) and George Of The Jungle. The show was broadcast for five years on WFLD, but ended after the station's owner, Field Communications, sold an interest to Kaiser Broadcasting, and Kaiser streamlined local productions on its group of stations.[9] The final WFLD episode (#1311) was broadcast July 27, 1973; one month later, The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show (now set in "Carefree Corners") began a one-year run on WGN.[10]

Meanwhile, Jackson began commuting between Chicago and New York, where he produced and hosted another local show, BJ's Bunch, featuring many of the same characters.[11][12] By the fall of 1974, WGN cancelled The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show, after which Jackson produced a one-shot holiday special, A Gift For Granny, which aired on WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC affiliate.[1]

Later career

Jackson and his puppets next appeared in the educationally themed program Gigglesnort Hotel in 1975, which brought most of the old Cartoon Town characters back, plus a few new creations. Produced and broadcast by WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC affiliate, the show was very popular with critics, though less so with the public, and ran for three seasons. Jackson said his influence for the show was Fawlty Towers.[3] He made a final program called Firehouse Follies using the characters in 1979-1980, then left television to teach at California Institute of the Arts for the School of Film/Video for 12 years, retiring in 1990.[1][13]

In a 2001 interview, Jackson expressed some frustration at seemingly not being able to fit into the criteria established for children's programming on network television. He said, "I am not "teachy" enough for PBS and am not considered worthy enough for Nickelodeon."[3] By the end of its run, Gigglesnort Hotel was syndicated nationally, and reruns continued to air on WLS in Chicago through 1985. Several episodes were released by Karl-Lorimar Home Video in the 1980s in a series of six volumes, one of which consisted of two holiday specials Jackson produced in California after he left Chicago: Billy Joe's Thanksgiving --aka Salute To The Turkey-- and a later remake of A Gift For Granny, which featured a green incarnation of Dirty Dragon and a female voice artist as Mother Plumtree.[1]

In later years, Jackson started a website to sell DVDs of his old programs online.[1] He lived quietly in California with his wife, Jo. While his shows were on the air, Jackson received two Iris Awards for the best locally produced children's show in the United States, as well as local Emmys for the shows and his role in them.[8][14][15][16][17][18]

In 2005, he became a member of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle.[19][20] Ten years earlier, he donated all his original puppets to Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications.[10]

In 2008 he published a memoir called The Only Kid on the Carnival.[4] In 2009, he produced a documentary, Remembering Cartoon Town and B.J. & Dirty Dragon. Jackson said in an interview when the DVD was released that many of the Cartoon Town episodes were not preserved.[8] Jackson also appeared for a presentation for the Museum of Broadcast Communications, "Saturday Morning with B.J. and Dirty Dragon: Bill Jackson, Live in Person—One Last Time", in December 2009. He indicated this would be his last time appearing as a performer.[14][21]

Death

Jackson was hospitalized with COVID-19 shortly before his death, but was released. He died in Paso Robles, California, on January 17, 2022, at the age of 86.[22][23] The cause of his death was not announced.[24]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Caro, Mark (October 1, 2009). "Master of puppets". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  2. ^ Okuda and Mulqueen 2004, p. 135.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Bill Jackson Interview". Toonarific. April 1, 2001. Archived from the original (Wayback Machine) on November 19, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Bill, ed. (2008). The Only Kid on the Carnival. IUniverse. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-595-51748-0.
  5. ^ Okuda and Mulqueen 2004, pp. 139–140.
  6. ^ a b Hollis 2001, p. 104.
  7. ^ Okuda and Mulqueen 2004, p. 139-141.
  8. ^ a b c Potempa, Phillip (July 26, 2011). "B. J. and Dirty Dragon remembered with new DVD documentary". NorthWest Indiana Times. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  9. ^ Buckner, Scott. "The Clown Prince of Chicago Kiddie TV". The Beachwood Reporter. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Hollis 2001, p. 105.
  11. ^ Okuda and Mulqueen 2004, p. 149.
  12. ^ "Bill Jackson". TV Party. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  13. ^ Hafferkamp, Jack (November 25, 1979). "Firehouse Follies". TV Week-Chicago Tribune. p. 6. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Last Chance To Gigglesnort". Illinois Entertainer. October 30, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  15. ^ "IRIS Awards". National Associates of Television Program Executives. Archived from the original on April 2, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  16. ^ "Chicago Emmy Awards" (PDF). Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 1977–1978. Retrieved January 22, 2022.(PDF)
  17. ^ "Chicago Emmy Awards" (PDF). Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 1976–1977. Retrieved January 22, 2022.(PDF)
  18. ^ "Chicago Emmy Awards" (PDF). Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 1971–1972. Retrieved January 22, 2022.(PDF)
  19. ^ "Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees" (PDF). Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 13, 2011. (PDF)
  20. ^ "Bill Jackson-Silver Circle Honorees". Chicago chapter-National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 2005. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  21. ^ "B.J. and Dirty Dragon's Bill Jackson to Revisit the Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television with LIVE Performance". Museum of Broadcast Communications. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  22. ^ "Remembering Chicago children's television legend Bill Jackson". WGN Radio. January 18, 2022. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  23. ^ "Bill Jackson, mainstay of Chicago children's television, dies at 86". WGN 9. January 18, 2022. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  24. ^ "Obituary: Bill Jackson, Chicago children's TV host known for 'BJ and the Dirty Dragon,' dies at 86". ABC7 Chicago. January 19, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2022.

Bibliography

External links