Sonny Fox, who hosted the Sunday morning children’s staple Wonderama in the 1960s, died died Sunday in Los Angeles of Covid-19-related pneumonia. He was 95.
His death was confirmed by his official website.
As host of the four-hour, New York-based Wonderama from 1959 to 1967, Irwin “Sonny” Fox was one of era’s most popular kid show hosts, exemplifying the local flavor that markets across the country had adopted. (Wonderama was produced at New York’s Metromedia-owned WNEW-TV Channel 5, and also aired in other Metromedia markets including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Cincinnat and Minneapolis – Saint Paul.)
The show’s mix of cartoons, celebrity guests, magic tricks, art lessons, spelling bees and Fox’s slapstick humor entertained the kids in the live studio audience as well as TV viewers across the nation. (Wonderama ran from 1955 to 1977, 1980 to 1987, and 2017.)
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After leaving the show (he was replaced by another longtime host, Bob McAllister), Fox hosted a short-lived talk show in New York. He was exec producer on a number of programs through the 1980s, including 1981’s The Golden Age of Television documentary series. He was an early producer of NBC’s late-night Tom Snyder show Tomorrow in 1973-74, and published the 2012 memoir But You Made the Front Page: Wonderama, War, and a Whole Bunch of Life.
Prior to Wonderama, the Brooklyn-born Fox had hosted game shows The Price is Right and The $64,000 Challenge, the latter a spin-off of The $64,000 Question, and other children’s series On Your Mark and Just For Fun. During World War II, he was held as a prisoner of war in Germany for more than three months.
In 1977, Fox ran children’s programming for NBC. He also served on the board for the nonprofit Population Communications International, an organization dedicated to improving family planning issues through popular media.
On his website, Fox once wrote that curious visitors could find more information on his life via Google, adding that he was convinced “that I will never really disappear. There will be bits and shards of my life floating in hyper-space forever!”
Fox was preceded in death by son Christopher, and is survived by daughter Meredith, sons Dana and Tracy and seven grandchildren.
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