The Joe Palooka Story aired in first run syndication in 1954 .
Based upon the comic strip character created by Hammond E. "Ham"
Fisher in 1921, the very moral, honest , kind-hearted somewhat naive
boxing champion Joe Palooka briefly came to television in this very
low budget syndicated comedy-drama series during the 1954-1955 season.
Appropriately Joe Palooka was portrayed by an actor named Joe
Kirkwood, Jr.who also co-produced this series. Kirkwood was already
very familiar with the character -he had portrayed Palooka in a series
of films beginning in 1946. Joe Palooka was one of the most popular
comic book off the day and this led to a series of Palooka products
such as watches, board games, and lunchboxes. Joe had a patient,
understanding society girl-the lovely Ann Howe (Cathy Downes) and a
manager named "Knobby' Walsh ( Sid Tomack in the first 13 episodes and
Luis Van Rooten in the rest). Joe's trainer Clyde was played by boxing
great 'Slapsie" Maxie Rosenbloom. A young Charles Bronson ( still
using his real name Charlie Buchinski) appeared in a few episodes as
Episodes include "A Career for Ann" in which Joe hired a maid named
Hilda ( Florence Auer) leaving Ann very bored so she took a job as a
sales clerk. In "A Turkey for Terry" a practical joke played by
Knobby ( he was given a gag gift of a very realistic looking rubber
turkey ) backfired when Joe Palooka who was not in on the joke gave
away the turkey to a poor neighborhood boy for his Thanksgiving
dinner. In "And Still the Champ" Joe's birthday led to a lot of worry
over the champ's age -especially as he was about to fight a much
The program was initially produced by Richard Baer but after 13 weeks
he was replaced by William Berke.The show was produced by Guide Films
, which also gave us the popular Life with Elizabeth and Liberace.
In the fall of 1954 Joe Kirkwood received a special award from the
Honor League of New York's Police Department for his portrayal of Joe
Palooka on television, for which a special unaired segment of the show
was filmed. Variety called the program "a good sponsorship bet " and
Billboard Magazine said it had" broad appeal for viewers of all ages.
One episode of The Joe Palooka Story is available for sale from Marathon Music and Video.
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