Sonny Fox, the beloved kids television host who connected with children on the New York-based Sunday morning program “Wonderama,” died Sunday in Los Angeles of coronavirus-related pneumonia, his website confirmed. He was 95.
Fox hosted “Wonderama” for four hours every Sunday, and the show was celebrated for the way it engaged children, featuring everything from cartoons to games that kids could play along with at home. In 1959, Fox was hired to replace Bill Britten and Doris Faye as the host of “Wonderama” on the Metromedia station WNEW-TV, Channel 5 in New York.
Fox remained with the show until exiting in 1967 to co-host an adult talk show for Channel 5 in 1967.
Fifty years later, he said was still getting emails “from my kids who are now in their 50s, and some of them are quite extraordinary,” he said in a 2008 interview with the Television Academy. “One came from a young man who said, ‘I lived in a house where my father was cold and distant, and you were my father figure. I know you thought of it as a job, but to a lot of us, it was a lot more.’ ”
Born in Brooklyn on June 17, 1925, Irwin “Sonny” Fox attended New York University before leaving school when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. In 1944, he was held as a prisoner of war in Germany for 3 and a half months before being rescued.
Fox later served as a wartime correspondent for the “Voice of America,” emceed game shows like “The $64,000 Challenge” and “The Price Is Right” and was the inaugural producer on the groundbreaking late-night talk show “Tomorrow,” hosted by Tom Snyder.
He published a memoir in 2012 titled “But You Made the Front Page: Wonderama, War, and a Whole Bunch of Life.”
Fox is survived by his daughter Meredith, sons Dana and Tracy and grandchildren Shaun, Kelley, Corrin, Casey, Melissa, Rachel and Kelly. His son Christopher died in 2014.