Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"The Magic Door" TV Show, a part of Chicagolands Sunday Morning Programming.

The Magic Door (AKA: The Magic Door Television Theatre) was a Jewish educational television series aimed at providing kiruv (outreach) to Jewish children in the Chicago, Illinois metropolitan area.
Tiny Tov and his Acorn House in Torahville.
Temmie Gilbert was an inspirational theater teacher, arts patron and civil rights activist who won three Emmys for her TV work, one of them for producing one of Chicago’s longest-running children’s programs, “The Magic Door.”
Temmie Gilbert
The goal of the show was teaching without preaching. The show was focused more on the Jewish culture. The idea was to give children good moral values by having themes from jealousy to litterbugs. Ninety-five per cent of the audience wasn't Jewish. The funny thing is that countless non-Jewish Chicagoans loved the show without knowing what they were watching.
The half-hour show was produced by the Chicago Board of Rabbis and premiered January 1, 1962 and ran weekly until 1991. It aired at 8:30 AM (floating between 7 AM to 9 AM depending on the year) on Sunday mornings on WBBM-TV Channel 2.

There were two main theme songs for the Magic Door. The first was based on an Israeli Children's song, "A Room Zoom Zoom."
"Ah room zoom zoom, ah room zoom zoom, gily gily gily gily gily a sa sa. Come through the Magic Door with me, just say these words and wondrous things you'll see."
The second theme song was written by Charles Gerber and was set to a melody from Beethoven's "Pastorale" Symphony No. 6:
"Open, come open the Magic Door with me, With your imagination there's so much we can see. There is a doorway that leads to a place. I'll find my way by the smile on your face."
Set in "Torahville," the main characters of the series included "Tiny Tov" (a character "reduced" to appear as a kind of miniature elf) and his cousin "Tina Tova". Tiny lived in a nicely decorated house that was made out of an acorn, the entrance was "The Magic Door". Before Tiny would enter his dwelling, he would sing "A Room Zoom Zoom."

In addition to Tiny and Tina, there were other puppet characters including: Boobie Beaver, Icky Witch, Rabbi and Mrs Moreh, Deedee, Max the Mailbox, Rumplemyer Dragon, Bunny Rabbit, Buddy, Worthington Warlock, Scrunch and human characters also participated. All of the characters were Jewish except Reverend Raymond from nearby Chapeltown.

In the early days of the series, Tiny Tov would travel back to biblical times by riding on his Magic Feather. Tiny would say "Aleph bet, gimel hay, magic feather, move away!" Later on the program evolved into moral topics. There would be a "Hebrew Word of the Day" that related to whatever values were being taught. Each week Tiny would educate children on Jewish history, sharing stories from Torah and discussing Jewish tradition. Every episode would include a brief Hebrew lesson, stepping through the Aleph-Bet (Hebrew alphabet).

The character of Tiny Tov was created by Irv Kaplan, who later moved to Israel and was instrumental in the creation of Israeli Public and Educational Television. There was only one Tina Tova played by Fran (Uditsky) Moss.

There were three Tiny Tov's in all. From 1970, Tiny Tov was portrayed by Emmy-nominated actor Jerry (Jerome) Loeb until he moved to California in 1973. The second Tiny Tov was played by Charles Gerber, who also created the song lyrics. The third Tiny Tov was played by (Rabbi) Joe Black.

The Magic Door Theme Song


WBBM TV The Magic Door 25th Anniversary Show.

1 comment:

  1. We loved this show! My girst child was born in 1990 and I was heartbroken when it went off the air, that I wouldn't be sharing it with her. Wonderful show.

    ReplyDelete

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