Do you remember Pinky Lee? Depending on your age, you might:
1. Recall Pinky Lee as a beloved children's TV host, right up there with Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo.
2. Wonder what the heck Rizzo is talking about in Grease when she disses Kenickie with a milkshake to the face while saying "To you from me, Pinky Lee!"
3. Think “Wasn’t she that teen star married to Bobby Darin?”
4. Assume Pinky Lee was a character on that season of “The Sopranos” that you missed.
5. Give up on guessing and go straight to Google.
No matter which of these applies to you, we challenge you to watch this clip of Pinky Lee (who was, indeed, a beloved children's TV host) and not be amazed and delighted.
Lee, who died on this day 20 years ago, took the concept of high energy to a whole new level. Indeed, once when he collapsed on stage while fighting off an infection, both the audience and the show’s producers – knowing about his wacky antics – assumed it was an ad-libbed pratfall. There was quite a long pause before anyone realized something was actually wrong.
Lee had to take time off from performing after the health scare, but that didn't reduce his great influence. Readers of a younger generation may see a hint of Pinky Lee in the hijinks of another famous kids' show host, Pee Wee Herman.
It's no secret that Paul Reubens took inspiration from Pinky Lee when he crafted the goofy Pee Wee Herman. And plenty of other irreverent children's TV shows of the past six decades owe much to Lee as well. What he created in the very early days of television was a template for the kind of programming kids really like to watch. A little bit of learning… and a whole lot of fun.
Written by Linnea Crowther