Bob McAllister, the lively host of “Wonderama,” a three-hour Sunday morning children’s show of the 1960s and ’70s, died of lung cancer July 21 at his home in Manhattan. He was 63.
“Wonderama,” a mix of cartoons, music, games and contests, had been on the air 12 years when McAllister replaced Sonny Fox as host in 1967. Using his background as a magician, his ventriloquist’s dummy named Chauncey and even his own dog, Ralph, McAllister made the show his own until it was canceled by Metromedia in 1977.
McAllister, who began performing magic and ventriloquism as a child, was rewarded with Chauncey in high school for good grades, and the dummy stayed with him through his early career. In 1953, McAllister appeared on and won Ted Mack’s “Amateur Hour.” He went on to host children’s TV shows in Norfolk, Va., and Baltimore before joining “Wonderama.”
McAllister used his “Wonderama” theme song, “Kids Are People, Too” as the name for his next show, which debuted on ABC in 1978. The show went on to win an Emmy, but McAllister was replaced by a younger host after only a few months.
McAllister returned to magic, touring the country and lecturing. He also produced a video, “Bob McAllister’s Amazing Magic,” and manufactured magician’s tricks.
McAllister, who was married and divorced twice, is survived by his mother, three daughters, and three grandchildren.