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Title no. 1: Madame Polly
Description: Fame? Fortune? Only Polly knows—for a PRICE!
When I was still making guest appearances on the show to promote safety belts I did a bit with Polly where she read my palm and predicted I was about to get my big break in television—as the test tone of the Emergency Broadcasting System. Dooooooooo. The bit was rather lame, but the idea of Polly as a fortuneteller had some possibilities that later I explored in a number of recurring bits. (I also used Polly in this guise in a series of health-related videos for kids produced by Samaritan Health Services. The videos played in schools and hospitals, and number seven in the series, Peer Pressure, received a nomination for a Rocky Mountain Emmy.)
Presented here are the first two bits of the Madame Polly “franchise.” They followed closely together on the show and established the angle most were to take: that Polly’s clairvoyant pretense was just a ruse for depleting my wallet. (Interestingly, these bits foreshadowed the ethics of a certain network of psychic friends...) Puppets as con artists—considering the irreverent nature of most of the Wallace & Ladmo material I grew up watching, what else would you expect?
One thing I learned right away after joining the show was basically, there were no funds for costuming or props. Wallace & Ladmo put the low in low-budget kids’ show. If I needed something for a skit, I usually provided it myself—which is why in the clip, Madame Polly, the “crystal ball” is a globe from my own bathroom light.
Generally, the props I used were things I already had on hand. In The Fortune Cookie, the Ouija board was a Christmas present when I was 9 or 10 and the fortune cookie probably came from lunch that day at the Golden Coin down the street from my house. Even if there had been a huge budget, I doubt I would have gotten away with turning in a lunch receipt because I needed a fortune cookie for a bit.
Wallace drew the bumper card of Madame Polly’s cottage that book ends the bits and I think it makes a nice transition in and out. I don’t know where it is today but hope it’s among the things at the Arizona Historical Society Museum for safekeeping. I always liked it.
I’m sad to say that the last line of The Fortune Cookie was lost when I inadvertently recorded another bit over it. After pressing eject, my VHS recorder always backed up the tape in the cassette a little. Somehow, I didn’t make sure that the new recording cleared the first. I’ve restored the ending as best I could by freezing the frame at the point where the recording breaks off and then adding the last line in a speech bubble. It’s not ideal, but salvages the clip since it’s unlikely another copy exists anywhere.