Saturday Morning Television – Sky King

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

We did not watch a lot of television when we lived in the Valley simply because we got one television station WCYB (NBC) in Bristol. Later on, when we lived in Bristol, we also were able to receive WJHL (CBS) out of Johnson City and WLOS (ABC) out of Asheville.

The early 60s were a great time for Saturday television. For several years, early Saturday was cartoons, but late morning morphed into more late-adolescent geared shows.

Shows with animals were a big draw as witnessed by series like “Fury”, “My Friend Flicka”, “Lassie”, and “Rin Tin Tin”. Even “Zorro”, “The Lone Ranger” and “Roy Rogers” featured horses prominently (I don’t recall when those three shows aired.)

But of all the Saturday morning television shows, “Sky King” was my favorite. I attribute that to the appearance of Sky King’s niece Penny. It was perhaps the first show of this type that featured a young woman in such a prominent role.

ABC Television, Gloria Winters Penny Sky King 1952, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Penny was played by actress Gloria Winters. She was a capable young woman and trusted by her uncle to pilot his Cessna “Songbird”.  Wow! What a role model for a young girl. I would not fly in an airplane myself until 1971 or so, so piloting a plane seemed like the most far fetched thing I could have imagined — until Penny that is.

Living in a somewhat isolated environment, it was good to have people who did things outside of our own experiences to look up to.

It was a different time and a different era, but one I remember fondly. Having a young woman portrayed prominently in a weekly television series was rare, but one I appreciate so much now.

Of course I loved all the shows and watched them when we could, but “Sky King” will always be my favorite.


29 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Television – Sky King”

  1. For some reason, I don’t remember watching a lot of the live action shows on Saturday morning, or we just watched different ones, like “Flash Gordon” and “Ivanhoe” on Saturday. Sunday mornings were a bigger time for the live action shows at our house, because WGN used to run “Gene Autry,” “Roy Rogers,” “The Cisco Kid,” and of course “The Lone Ranger.” I also remember “Sgt. Preston of the Northwest Mounted Police” with Yukon King as the dog and the brains of the operation. WGN also run a lot of syndicated shows, like “Sea Hunt,” “The Everglades,” “Whirlybirds,” “Highway Patrol,” and others all through the week.

    Anyway, I think we missed “Sky King,” and now that I see Gloria Winters, I’m sorry I did.

    There’s a station here in Atlanta that’s primarily a religious broadcaster, but in the evenings they run a lot of those old shows. The stuff has all hit public domain, so they don’t have to pay a fee to show them. I miss the days when TV was about entertainment…

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    1. Sky King was so good. I remember most of the shows you mentioned, too, John. When I was older, Sunday was reserved for my mom’s shows. She worked 6 days a week so Sunday was reserved for Roller Derby and 12 O’clock High.


      1. I can’t remember if roller derby was on Saturday or Sunday afternoons in Chicago, but wrestling was on the other day, and so was Minnesota Fats. ABC had bowling on Satuday afternoon… ah, the old days. I can’t remember if we watched “12 O’Clock High,” but I do know we watched “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” on Sundays…


  2. Like you when I watched Sky King, Penny was my favorite, of course for a different reason than yours.
    Before Saturday TV, there was Saturday radio. My special chore for Saturday was scrubbing on my knees the kitchen floor. I always did it listening to radio programs like Red Lantern, Let’s Pretend, and my favorite The Buster Brown Show with Smiling Ed.

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    1. Well, Don, it was certainly unusual to have a female lead and she was quite attractive. I think Sky King was on radio before it was on TV. I do not remember a time without a television, but it was always black and white and small and we had very precarious reception. We all knew where the horizontal hold and vertical hold were but when the wind blew, nothing helped the snow!

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      1. Right, Sky King started out on the radio first. My biggest problem with the TV version was the actor playing Sky came across as a wimp to me.


  3. Such great memories. We didn’t have too many more stations either. I don’t think I watched Sky King, but I loved any animal shows, Lassie, My Friend Flicka to name two. As for female role models, I loved My Little Margie. She was a hot and I think she was always getting into mischief and frustrating her Dad. Maybe that’s where I learned it! Lol. Life was so simple back then.

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  4. I remember my daughter seeing one of the shows we watched as kids and remarking, “back when you were a kid before there was color and the world was just black and white.” Kind of like the Wizard of Oz before the cyclone landed her in Oz.

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