Ding Dong School

Now available: Streaming video of a full half-hour "Ding Dong School" broadcast. Features a visiting musician and a finger-painting session.

Curator's Note: The estate of the late "Miss Frances" went on the auction block in Scottsdale, AZ on July 26th and 27th of 2003. View some of the artifacts that were part of that sale.

Right: Dr. Frances Horwich ("Miss Frances" of Ding Dong School). Ding Dong School was commercial television's noblest attempt to provide quality programming for pre-school children. Miss Frances was to one generation of youngsters what Fred Rogers was to the next several. (Indeed, Mr. Rogers manner of speaking seems to be Miss Frances-derived.) The low-key manner of Miss Frances made this show fully consistent with the aesthetic of the Chicago School of Television. It was a fine example of the "Chicago Touch" aimed at a juvenile audience.

Frances Horwich

The Ding Dong School concept was developed by producer Reinald Werrenrath Jr. with the support of Judith Waller, director of public affairs programming for the NBC Central Division.

NBC began to carry the half-hour Ding Dong School Monday through Fridays in November of 1952 (the show began its local run on WNBQ a short time earlier). Chicago continued as the show's origination point until May of 1955 when Dr. Horwich moved to New York to assume her duties as Supervisor of Children's Programs for NBC.

By 1970 Miss Frances had returned to Chicago where she collaborated with director Roger Lee Miller on the "Sunday in Chicago" broadcast and a documentary (in which revealed herself as a fervent environmentalist). (Read the recollections of Roger Miller for further insights into what made this remarkable woman tick).

On June 2, 2001, the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted Frances Horwich into its prestigious "Silver Circle". She died in Scottsdale, AZ on June 22, 2001 at the age of 94.

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Created by Rich Samuels (e-mail to rich@richsamuels.com)