I was thumbing through some old Springfieldians and came across an interesting article that delves into state senator Norma Champion's early days at KYTV as host of the Children's Hour. Champion parlayed her television notoriety into a city council seat and eventually defeated Craig Hosmer in 2002.
Her record as a legislator has been, arguably, one of the least distinguished and vacuous in southwest Missouri political history. You can read more about Aunt Norma at All About Norma.
Anyway, back to the crack investigative reporting on Aunt Norma from Issue #1 (Summer 1992) of the Springfieldian.
"Champion hosted the popular Saturday morning children's show "The Children's Hour", sharing the stage with puppets, pets and shy, embarrassed children.
". . . While Champion's service on City Council raised no question of character, a closer look at Champion's television years may reveal another side of the candidate. . . .The controversy centers around a contractual dispute between KYTV and children's entertainer Skinny McGinnis, who performed along with Champion on The Children's Hour broadcasts.
Department of Labor documents indicate that McGinnis filed a complaint against KYTV in April of 1975, a year before the show went off the air. McGinnis, a lifelong resident of Bois D'Arc, now lives in a rehabilitation center in north Springfield and is openly bitter about his relationship with Champion.
"Oh, she was all smiles while the cameras were rolling and the kids were there," said McGinnis, who insisted no pictures be taken. "I was the main draw on the show, and everybody knew it. Me and Rusty. When we asked her to go to bat for us she laughed in our faces - called us glorified prophylactics. Rusty was crushed."
Rusty Rooser, McGinnis's life-long friend and co-star, fell upon hard times with the close of the Children's Hour. After touring the midwest doing shows at libraries and county fairs, he was tragically killed and eaten by a group of transients at a north Springfield park in 1987. McGinnis does not speak of the incident.
Democrat Doug Harpool is challenging Champion for Missouri's 30th District senate seat.