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Hey Everybody!

My 60th birthday is closing fast and I thought I'd share something that doesn't get much attention.

Wildlife and nature shows are very common these days and outlets like Discovery Channel and National Geographic have opened a permanent doorway into life on Earth.

But when I was a little boy shows about the natural world didn't become a commonplace network feature until the 1960's. This is where shows like, "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" shared top billing with "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color", at least on a national broadcast stage.

To go back further in time, "nature shows", were often locally produced and locally broadcast. So what you saw and when you saw it depended on where you lived.

All my life I've been waking up between 3am to 4am - can't help it, it just happens. And that means for all of my life I've been going to the TV set to see what's on first in the morning.

This is where the original "nature" shows were hiding when I was a kid. Better known as "fishing and hunting" shows, early morning television was full of local guys showing great places to fish or reliving an exciting moment hunting in the outback.

Outdoorsmen, (or sportsmen), were the first nature-lovers to populate the airwaves with interesting stories to tell, beautiful places to visit and choice encounters with wildlife across America and the world. To see shows like fishing or hunting, ya had to be up early in the morning, like me. Otherwise these shows were never aired later in the day for a larger audience - go figure.

This is yet another area where the new ABC Network in the 60's shook thing up by airing locally produced shows to a nationwide broadcast audience, along with their own sponsored shows.

My favorite was ABC's "The American Sportsman" series, first to air on Sunday afternoon for guys tired of watching old movie reruns. "The American Sportsman" was unique by combining outdoor activities with well-known celebrities, expanding beyond hunting and fishing to include, river rafting, mountain climbing & skiing, reef diving and surfing.

By the 1970's host Curt Gowdy had a list of guest stars on The American Sportsman that read like a "who's who" of famous entertainers at the time. Before the internet, this was the most unique way to see famous people engage in chosen activities that they personally enjoyed doing. 

Also to follow the ABC pattern was a local show that went national, "Bill Saiff's Rod & Reel". This show was famous as a "how-to" guide in the art of fishing.

Hey guys,

I call this "Partial Recall" because today I am 60 years old. The simple truth is I cannot remember the names of many locally produced wildlife/nature shows I saw in my travels around the USA.

While many of these local shows fall into either the "hunting" or "fishing" category, these early morning regional shows were a precursor to what we now call "Nature Television".

The best example is "Wild Kingdom" or "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" starring Marlin Perkins. This may be the best example of a wildlife series on a national basis. "Wild Kingdom" became notable for featuring the best known of African wildlife. Lions, elephants, giraffes, monkeys - my dad often wished Wild Kingdom featured less known animals, unusual critters.

And now I get to the point of this post - when it comes to wildlife/nature series no one could touch one of the best animal presenters I know - Bill Burrud.

Bill Burrud was an actor, photographer, naturalist and an all-around adventurer. Bill Burrud would show all the flora and fauna, that Wild Kingdom never did, on his series , "Animal World". 

Not well known today, Bill Burrud became an international advocate for the welfare of animal life everywhere. He was in demand as a public speaker and made many appearances on late-night television. 

Everyone loved Marlin Perkins. Everyone respected Bill Burrud.

Although Bill has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame many people don't know who he is. I can only hope that episodes of his series, "Animal World", will be found and saved online. If you like wildlife/nature shows Bill Burrud had a way with the natural world that made everyone sit-up and take notice!

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Happy Birthday, old timer! We need more folks like you to keep the memory of old forgotten shows alive. 
I wonder what shows and movies will be forgotten in my time. Maybe someday I'll be rambling to my grandkids about that obscure sitcom, Friends! 
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The women of New Vegas ask me a lot if there's a Mrs. New Vegas. Well, of course there is! You're her. And you're still just as perfect as the day we met.
Hey - Thank you jkatz.

I apologize for my rambling on a bit. Lately I've been thinking about the sear volume of "stuff" I've seen in my lifetime. When I go back to my earliest years I'm humbled to realize that I saw the rise of the "wildlife/nature" series from obscure local fare to primetime glory in the space of a single decade. 

Do you suppose that being able to see animals from around the world on television anytime you want led to the demise of the zoo and the circus?

I can't begin to describe the number and variety of nature shows I've seen. Many wildlife series used memorable musical scores to cement themselves into viewers minds to the point that the music themes sometimes outlive the series that created them.


You don't believe me?

Take a listen to one of the most famous closing themes to any wildlife series ever aired:

I envy you younger guys - you will experience an amazing future where the past reinserts itself in ways that are surprising, and in a manner that I cannot predict.

The "Wild, Wild World of Animals" first aired in 1973. 
But I think the show's soundtrack has never really gone away!

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I have a weird sort of love/hate relationship with Quentin Tarantino movies. Somedays I hate 'em, and other days I think they're great!

But what always impressed me is his extensive use of vintage music scores in all his movies. 
Kill Bill used music by Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov, Inglorious Basterds had a few tracks from Nazi Germany-era films. My favorite example has to be Django Unchained, which used the theme from They Call Me Trinity in the end credits!
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The women of New Vegas ask me a lot if there's a Mrs. New Vegas. Well, of course there is! You're her. And you're still just as perfect as the day we met.
And this is why I feel a great hope for the future - all this "stuff" from the past has a way of living again. Sometimes with just a little tweaking old musical scores can give new movie projects a quick injection of cool in an unexpected way.

I used to post video clips of obscure TV shows I saw back in the day. Guys would reply, "I'll never get to see this show except in bits and pieces. A few years later it shows up on Adult Swim or Hulu. 

Even shows from Canada made it to the USA when I was a kid. CTV ran a series called, "Untamed World", that was notable because it didn't just highlight animals, the show also included the people who live in various parts of the world. The inclusion of human societies made, "The Untamed World" stand out from other series.

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shakin steak
Hiya eddstarr! Gotta say... this kind of show never interested me. When I was a kid, American Sportsman syndicated reruns meant the end of Saturday morning cartoons for the day (week). And they were too boring.

However! I really appreciate hearing about the regional differences in television broadcasts that you witnessed. These differences still exist in a few areas, but not nearly as extensively as they used to. And that applies not only to TV, but to music, fast food and groceries, speaking dialects, fashion, and more. I think the convenience of homogeneity has also caused us some cultural losses.

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