Winchell-Mahoney Time (partially found Paul Winchell television series; 1965-1968)
Winchell-Mahoney Time was a children's television series made by ventriloquist and actor Paul Winchell (1922-2005). The series featured both live-action characters and puppetry, including his famous characters Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. Despite 305 segments airing from 1965 to 1968, only 17 episodes currently exist.
Winchell was approached to produce the show after the success of his previous series, The Paul Winchell Show. In addition to his ventriloquism, Winchell played multiple characters on the show including Bonehead Smiff, Mr. Goody-good, and himself. The series was intended to instill moral values in children and use the ventriloquism dummies to help resolve their fears, while still being entertaining.
In 1970, Paul Winchell began negotiating with Metromedia (the production company for the series) to set up a syndication deal. The two parties were unable to reach an agreement, and Winchell ended up offering to buy all of the tapes for $100,000. Metromedia responded by telling him to accept their deal or they would destroy the tapes. When he refused to accept, they followed through on their promise.
Aftermath and Status
In 1986, Winchell successfully sued Metromedia for $17.8 million. Only 17 water-damaged tapes survived the incident, but these have not been released to the public in their entirety. The whereabouts of the tapes are unknown, but it is presumed that they are now in his family's possession. All that is currently available of the series is a few clips, totaling about 20 minutes.
- The Wikipedia page on Paul Winchell. Retrieved 18 Mar '17.
- Los Angeles Times article on the lawsuit Retrieved 18 Mar '17.
- Newspaper article on the lawsuit, taken from the website of Winchell's lawyer. Retrieved 18 Mar '17.