Bill Jackson Biography
Bill Jackson (Bill Ray Jackson) is an American television personality, cartoonist and educator born on 15th September 1935 in Unionville, Missouri. He is popularly known for hosting the children’s programs ‘Gigglesnort Hotel’ and ‘The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show’. He is a two time Iris-award winner for the best locally produced children’s show in the United States. He graduated from the university of Missouri’s school of journalism with a degree in television production in 1975.
Bill Jackson Age
He was born on 15th September 1935 in Unionville, Missouri (83 years as of 2018)
Bill Jackson Career
Bill Jackson began his career at KTVO in Ottumwa, Iowa, as a weatherman, copywriter and art director. He later joined the army and was assigned to Armed Forces Network in Hollywood.While here he made his first puppets.
In 1960 Bill Jackson made his first appearance in children’s television as host for the ‘Popeye and Little Rascals Club’ in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The program run for two years before 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’.
While at the Mickey Mouse Club he created ‘Dirty Dragon’ which was a character based on his friend in Indianapolis. He said that “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 the character “Weird” was based on a Chicago friend.
In 1965 WBBM-TV, based in Chicago, gave him a program known variously as Clown Alley (weekday version) or Here Comes Freckles (Sunday morning version). The show was cancelled after two seasons due to poor ratings as it was broadcast early in the morning.
Bill Jackson played the 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.
In 1986 Bill Jackson made his debut on WFLD, based in Chicago, with the program ‘Cartoon Town’ which was later renamed ‘The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show’.While at the station his 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 helped him reach great heights.
Bill Jackson was the writer and producer of the show, he also performed all of the puppet characters’ voices, built and designed the sets and the puppets. 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 run for five years but ended after Field Communications, the station’s owner, sold an interest to Kaiser Broadcasting, and Kaiser streamlined local productions on its group of stations.
In August 1973 the BJ & Dirty Dragon Show (now set in “Carefree Corners”) began a one-year run on WGN.By the fall of 1974 WGN cancelled the show after which Jackson produced a one-shot holiday special, A Gift For Granny, which aired on WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC affiliate.
In 1975 Bill Jackson and his cartons appeared in Gigglesnort Hotel, an educationally- themed program. The show was produced and broadcast by WLS-TV, Chicago’s ABC affiliate but ended after three seasons. In 1979 he made his final program ‘Firehouse Follies’ which run until 1980.
At the end of Gigglesnort Hotel, it was was syndicated nationally, and reruns continued to air on WLS in Chicago through 1985. In the 1980’s several episodes were released by Karl-Lorimar Home Video 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.
Bill Jackson did a local featurette on WLS-TV during ABC-TV’s Kids Are People Too show called The Too Late Show Staring Dirty Dragon. a slight take off on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show during the 1978-79 season.
In 1995 Bill Jackson donated all his original puppets to Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications.In 2005, he became a member of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle.
In 2008 he published his memoir ‘The Only Kid on the Carnival’. He released a documentary, ‘Remembering Cartoon Town and B.J. & Dirty Dragon’ in 2009.
In December 2009 he made his last appearance as a performer 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”.
Bill Jackson left television in 1980 and joined California Institute of the Arts for the school of Film/Video as a teacher retiring in 1990.