Andy's Gang was a children's television program that ran on NBC
from August 20, 1955, to December 31, 1960. It was hosted by actor Andy Devine and was the successor to the
radio and television programs Smilin' Ed McConnell and his Buster Brown Gang, later shortened to Smilin' Ed
McConnell and his Gang. Devine took over the television program when Ed McConnell died suddenly from a heart
attack in 1954. He inherited a number of the characters on the earlier show and the sponsor, Buster Brown
The green puppet, Froggy the Gremlin, appeared in a puff of smoke,
and was always interrupting the story.
On the original programs, Smilin' Ed McConnell started the show
with "Hiya kids" followed by the audience singing the sponsor's song (Buster Brown Shoes) "I got shoes, you got
shoes, everybody's got to have shoes, but there's only one kind of shoe for me-good old Buster Brown shoes!" Then
Ed said "Thank you buddies and sweethearts. Good old Buster Brown shoes are on the air out here in Hollywood for
another good old Saturday hullabaloo."
Originally, the show was filmed in front of a live audience but,
as McConnell's health deteriorated, they used prefilmed children's reaction shots intercut with the studio
The backdrop was a clubhouse. Produced on a very small budget, the
show was a success - bringing the Buster Brown advertising characters to life and helping to sell millions of shoes
based on icons that had existed for decades. It was also one of the first children's shows filmed in
Music and stories from Smilin' Ed's Storybook were regular
features. The show also featured "Gunga, the East India Boy," a serial set in India. Led by The Maharajah, Gunga
Ram and his pal Rama set out on great adventures around the village of Bakore in filmed segments.
The most popular segment was the visit from Froggy the Gremlin who
would appear when Smilin' Ed yelled his famous catch-phrase, "Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy!" This same phrase
was later used by Andy Devine.
McConnell died of a heart attack in 1954, and Andy Devine took
over the show in 1955.
The show then went to the rough voiced, gentle giant, Andy Devine,
who had earlier appeared as Jingles on The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok show with Guy Madison. The studio
reaction shots were again intercut and Devine did his segments without a live audience. This also allowed some
limited special effects such as when Froggy appeared or disappeared.
The show began with Andy sitting in a big easy chair reading from
a book, Andy's Stories, which were illustrated by film clips. Regular characters were Midnight the Cat, Squeeky the
Mouse (portrayed by a hamster), and Grandie the Talking Piano. Midnight, a big black cat, would sometimes operate
an organ grinder.
In filmed segments, Gunga Ram was an Indian boy played by Nino
Marcel. Gunga (Ghanga Rama during Smilin' Ed's tenure) and his friend Rama (Vito Scotti) helped out the
Comic actor Billy Gilbert regularly appeared on the show and was
often interrupted by Froggy or told to do what Froggy wanted. The enraged Gilbert would then chase Froggy until he
disappeared. One surviving clip shows Vito Scotti trying to explain singing, while Froggy keeps interrupting or
making fun of him; eventually, Scotti tries to grab Froggy but the gremlin suddenly disappears.
Devine closed with, " "Yes, sir, we're pals, and pals stick
together. And now, gang, don't forget church or Sunday school."