J.P. Patches: Northwest Icon (Chris Wedes)

J.P. Patches was interviewed on the radio yesterday. His wonderful television show started fifty years ago this week. My goodness!

Who is J.P. Patches? He’s a legend in the Seattle area. For 23 years — the longest run for a local children’s program in the country — the J.P. Patches Show aired every morning on KIRO-TV. His goofy antics were a combination of slapstick that children loved and a sly grown-up humor that made moms laugh (even though the kids didn’t always understand why). It was usually a live, unscripted show, reportedly broadcast from the City Dump.

J.P. Patches, THE clown to most Seattleites of the era, was played by Chris Wedes. His numerous fans, Patches Pals as we were known, still remember him fondly. He was part of our childhood. He also influenced a generation of other clowns, including (but far surpassing, in my opinion) Ronald McDonald. J.P. made appearances throughout the Northwest and always drew huge crowds. His good nature and warmth was obvious at every event. Patches Pals still flock to his rare appearances more than two decades after the show went off the air.

I saw him about three years ago when his autobiography was published. He questioned my status as a Patches Pal (accusing me of siding with evil Boris S. Wart, an arch-enemy seeking to take over the City Dump), but happily signed my book anyway. J.P. Patches: Northwest Icon [LibraryThing / WorldCat] is a slim volume packed with stories and photos from the career of a beloved clown and his cast of crazy sidekicks.

The first J.P. Patches show aired February 10, 1958. That was before my time, but I was lucky enough see some of the last few seasons on the air. I still remember them fondly. Happy 50th, J.P.!

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