Plunk Your Magic Twanger!

Andy’s Gang ran on NBC-TV from  August 20, 1955 to December 31, 1960. It’s host, the gravel-voiced, portly namesake of the show, Andy Devine (a.k.a. Jingles on the Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok Show – “hey, Wild Bill, wait for me!”), shared the stage with Froggy the Gremlin, Midnight the Cat (who played violin) and Squeeky the Mouse. Squeeky was actually a hamster who sometimes flew airplanes. June Foray, a veteran of Rocky and Bullwinkle shows, was the voice of Midnight and others.

Andy’s Gang always showed cut-a-ways to a studio audience full of loud screaming kids. Oh how I wanted to be one of those kids. Devine sat on a big stuffed chair and read stories to his adoring brood. He would also show movies and skits that illustrated the stories.

Devine was very quotable. Among the most known brand-phrases were “Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!” (an expression later used by male teenage baby-boomers to suggest carnal engagement). Froggy would appear saying “Hi Ya, Kids, Hiya, Hiya, Hiya!” Andy ended each show with his signature “Yes, sir, we’re pals, and pals stick together. And now, gang, don’t forget church or Sunday school.”

I met Andy when I was six. He was 46, big and imposing. At the time he was playing Cap’n Andy Hawks in an outdoor performance (at Jones Beach) of the musical Show Boat with words by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. I was escorted backstage by a family friend, who played the show’s leading man, Pete. I was so terrified seeing the imposing Jingles/Andy in real life (rather than tiny on the black and white screen), I hid behind my dad’s legs. When I timidly peered around, Andy bent down as far as his girth allowed, and said in his unmistakable gravel, “Hiya Kid! What’s new?”

Still  cowering, I managed to squeak out “nnnnnice,” which was Midnight the Cat’s signature catch-word.

Peering down over his trademark stomach, Andy responded: “That’s good, kid, real good.”

(Don’t forget to watch the links, kids.)

Andy Devine

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3 thoughts on “Plunk Your Magic Twanger!

  1. Ian Summers

    Hi steven, thanks for yet another trip down memory lane. “I’ve got shoes, you’ve got shoes. Everybody’s gotta have shore, but there’s only one kind of shoes for me. Good old Buster Brown.

    Before Andy’ Gang, there was Smilin Ed Mc’conell’s Gang on the radio. Ed originated Groggy and often was his voice. I don’t think Ed made the transition to Tv.

    Best regards, Ian Summers

  2. Moldy

    Hi, I subscribe to the blog, but this is the first time I’m commenting because it was such a happy surprise to see it.
    I watched it all the time when I was a kid, but I seem to recall that before Andy Devine the show had another host, but it’s going back a ways so I’m not sure.
    And I have to admit, I’m drawing a complete blank on Squeeky the Mouse, but I can still do a mean “Hi Ya, Kids, Hiya, Hiya, Hiya!”
    Thanks for all of your posts.

  3. Claudia Laub

    Dear Steve,
    I love checking in on you every day. “Plunk Your Magic Twanger Frogie!” and the Midnight would say “Nice”,
    I think I’m remembering it right.
    Thanks so much for the blast to the past. I love your posts.
    Claudia Laub