Kids’ show hosts are supposed to be squeaky-clean, perfect role models for your little munchkins. But sometimes, behind-the-scenes, these hosts aren’t as lighthearted as they appear on the screen. Sometimes they are downright the opposite. They are human, after all. Here are some kids’ show hosts who are way more Krusty the Clown than Mr. Rogers.
Marc Summers had OCD
Marc Summers, host of Double Dare, the show that grossed us out as kids with its lifesize nose, pies in every face, and gakky slime in every pore, had OCD. No, really. The guy suffers from Howie Mandel-esque OCD, and hates anything to do with germs. Yet, as a professional, he did his job, and never even told his boss about his affliction. Kudos to this guy for recognizing an awesome show and putting his personal issues aside, all to go out there and do an awesome job at making one of the best shows of our childhoods. That all said, the idea of him cringing inwardly every time another slime-drenched kid ran to give him a big hug is pretty damn funny.
Shari Lewis of Lamb Chop’s Play-Along actually hated puppets
We all know Shari Lewis as the puppet lady. She ALWAYS had Lamb Chop on hand (literally), and we loved the dynamic duo. That’s why it may come as a surprise (and disappointment) to learn that Shari didn’t even like puppets as a kid, and even as a young lady. She only started performing with them because her entertainer father made her.
See, her father was a magician during the Great Depression, and he’d be damned if his daughter didn’t follow in those footsteps. As soon as she could walk, he had her doing segments in his shows. Part of that included training her with puppets … which she hated. But then, those "dumb puppets" (her words, not ours) won her the Arthur Godfrey talent scout program, and she decided that maybe she could live with those unintelligent wads of felt after-all.
David Joyner (Barney the Dinosaur) was once a department store mannequin
Barney was the man back in the day. He was like our first taste of Jurassic Park, albeit a very friendly, musical, funny, and non-violent version of it. He’s so life-like, it doesn’t always dawn on you that Barney isn’t a real dinosaur. But no, there’s a dude in a suit. And that dude’s name is David Joyner.
Joyner’s quite an interesting person with an interesting life. How does one get into dinosauring anyway? Well, as it turns out, Joyner started out working for Texas Instruments as a software analyst. That might be one of the most yawn-inducing jobs ever (very much unlike being Barney), but he had another, even more boring-sounding job: a department store mannequin.
Yes, you read that right. Joyner would stand in store windows as a mannequin, presumably for stores who forgot to order real ones. Joyner said to Buzzfeed, "I would stand in store windows … as a mannequin, just frozen …That started at like five, six bucks an hour and after about a year, I was able to charge 100 bucks an hour. What I’d do is I’d stand there for four hours and each hour I would change clothes. So it was a little fashion show also."
Well, that’s one way to pay the rent.
Steve from Blues Clues left because he was balding
We all remember being little kids just watching "Blue’s Clues" like we did when, all of a sudden, Steve was gone! Instead his brother "Joe" was suddenly in our faces, and Joe was not the same as his brother. So we spent years wondering just what happened to Steve. As younglings, we assumed he went to college (mainly because they told us that). But as we got older, we started to figure out the holes in that theory. Dude had to be over 30 — besides, if he couldn’t solve a simple puzzle without a bunch of preschoolers figuratively holding his hand everywhere, how could he possibly be college material? In short, what actually happened to Steve?
Well, there was a rumor circulating that he got into drugs and alcohol — luckily, that was just fiction. Many on the internet thought he died. Uhh … no. Less morbid people said he wanted to pursue a music career. Wrong again, even though he did do that. No, according to the man himself, he quit once he started balding. Basically, he was getting too old for this s– well, you know the rest. And it wasn’t just the hair — many cast and crew members started to grow up and leave, and Steve found standing in front of a green screen for upteen hours a week rather isolating. So, he decided it was time for a change.
Also, for the record, Steve doesn’t even really look like Steve anymore. In fact, he says he sometimes gets mistaken for Moby, and has to convince people he was Steve. But each skeptic only gets three clues to figure it out.
Larry Harmon (Bozo the Clown) ran for President against Reagan in 1984, and was a womanizer
Clowns often get a bad rap, though sometimes, it’s called for. Take Larry Harmon — AKA Bozo the Clown — for example. We’re not sure what’s more odd: the fact that he ran for President against Ronald Reagan in 1984 with the slogan "Put the real Bozo in the White House" (admittedly, pretty clever) or the fact that he was, allegedly, a notorious womanizer.
In fact, an entire book was written about his questionable ways with women, called Sleeping With Bozo and Other Clowns. The book was written by his ex-wife Sandra Harmon, to expose him for how unfaithful he was during their marriage. While cheating on your spouse is obviously terrible, we also kinda can’t blame him. After all, what woman can resist a clown’s magnetic charm?
Foul-mouthed genius Richard Pryor actually hosted a kids’ show
Richard Pryor was a comedy genius, the kind of guy whose specials you make your kids watch when they grow up so they can appreciate true greatness. But as we all know, he had his own demons in the form of substance abuse, and his comedy wasn’t exactly what you’d call kid-friendly. He had what our mothers would call a "sailor-mouth," and that was on a mellow day.
Yet, somehow, he was given a kids’ show in the mid-80s. No, we’re not kidding. It was a lot like Sesame Street. Again, Not kidding. Surely this must be some kind of mistake? Did he audition for the wrong thing and everyone just kinda ran with the goof-up? Nope. Pryor’s Place lasted thirteen whole episodes, tackled serious subjects like racism and bullying in a kid-friendly manner, and Pryor didn’t let one F-bomb fly throughout that entire tenure. Well, on-camera anyway. Backstage, we’re guessing the F’s flew like gulls at the beach.
John Burstein of Slim Goodbody wore a unitard of exposed organs … and still does
Want to give kids nightmares? Easy! Just walk around with your organs exposed! Want to teach them about health? Uhh, just do that same thing?
That is John Burstein AKA Slim Goodbody’s logic. Starting on Captain Kangaroo, and then getting his own show, this guy wore a unitard that exposed his organs — everything from his heart to his colon — every episode. And trust us when we say this suit was incredibly lifelike. It would be pretty hard for a kid to know "oh, that’s not that guy’s actual lungs, just a unitard," and not just because they don’t teach us about unitards until the sixth grade.
It doesn’t look like he ever took that thing off, either. See, he still tours around at schools in said unitard, because if our parents had to be scarred, and we had to be scarred, then by gum, so do our children!
Good Night Show host Melanie Martinez made humorous videos satirizing the "virginity movement."
When you’re a kids’ TV host, you’re supposed to be super squeaky-clean at all times. This includes the lie you led before you got the gig. Good Night Show host Melanie Martinez must not have gotten the memo.
See, Melanie starred in this video, where she plays a woman who wants to save her virginity for marriage. So, until that wonderful day, she’s exclusively engaging in … other entrance sex. Like, bum-bum stuff. The video’s funny in its own right, and intelligently written, but it is so NOT kid-appropriate. Can you imagine your kid seeing their favorite TV host did a funny video, clicking on it, and then hearing her spew out anal sex jokes like she’s on the Howard Stern Show?
As you might have gathered, while her satire on the "virginity movement" was critically lauded, it ticked a lot of parents off, and it led to her swift expulsion from the show. Let that be a lesson: if you wanna be on Sesame Street, and you’ve put your dirty-joke past on record, work at CVS instead. Your chances are better.