Reader discretion advised. Not suited for animal lovers or the faint of heart.
While Shari Lewis had introduced her signature character Lamb Chop on the Captain Kangaroo show in March 1956, Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse and Wing Ding were all introduced on Shari’s Hi Mom show which aired on WRCA-TV in New York from 1957-59. When NBC gave Shari her first network program, The Shari Lewis Show, which debuted on 1 October 1960 replacing The Howdy Doody Show, her family of puppets made the move with her.
But a problem eventually arose. You see Wing Ding was a crow and therefore black. Wing Ding was as a result seen as a caricature of an African-American by a certain over-imaginative sector of the American populace and thus politically incorrect. You couldn’t have that kind of thing on prime time TV, now could you? So at some point Shari bowed to parental or network pressure and had Wing Ding put down. Yes, truly a very sad, cruel and tragic ending to a beloved TV character from the fifties.
After The Shari Lewis Show’s run ended in 1963, NBC unaccountably taped the 1964 Democrat and Republican national conventions over The Shari Lewis Show tapes thus destroying them! I wonder how much that cost NBC and Shari Lewis in lost future syndication revenues?
Though long gone from the airwaves, Wing Ding still survives in the hearts of fans since his noble visage continues to adorn many Shari Lewis collectibles from the early sixties:
Including these from my own collection: