I was eight years old. Dad was in Advertising for Y&R at the time and bought commercial time for his clients. He was not shy about using that leverage to get tickets for a taping for Wonderama. He even let me take a day off from school. On this particular day Debbie Reynolds was a special guest. She was promoting her new movie “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” For the song, the producers needed a couple of kids top sit on a faux tree stump while Ms. Reynolds danced around us, lip syncing to the song “I ain’t down yet” (which also happened to be the theme song of Wonderama for many years, as I recall.) As I said, I was eight years old and was also missing a front tooth. I got picked to sit on the stump, along with a girl. What I remember most about the moment was this woman dancing around us and several times rubbing my head and me, annoyed, returning the part that my mother had so carefully combed before the taping.
Then an even better thing happened. A few segments after the song a producer came over to me and walked me to Sonny’s desk and told me to sit down. I WAS SITIING AT SONNY’S DESK. And then Sonny himself came over to me and leaned down and said to me “when we come back from commercial that man over there (he then pointed to someone standing next to a camera) will point at you. I want you to look at the camera and say ‘welcome back to Wonderama.’ I am going to come over and no matter what I say, don’t get out of my chair, okay?”
Okay? Of course that’s okay. I’m going to be on TV sitting behind Sonny Fox’s desk! The lights over the desk come on, the man points at me, and I say “welcome back to Wonderama, I’m your host David Kruh.”
At that moment you, Sonny, walks to the desk and says something like “okay, that’s enough, you can get up now.”
I remember distinctly looking up at you and, following your instructions, just saying “no.” You asked me again to “please get up.” “No.” That’s when Sonny picked me up, sat down in his chair and put me in his lap. I mugged a scowl as Sonny introduced the next segment. The lights go off and Sonny thanks me, and someone hands me a toy – wish I could remember what it was – and I returned to my seat. My moment in the sun (or Sonny) was over. I’ve never forgotten my television debut or the excitement, if only for a few moments, of being the host of Wonderama.