“Tam’s Fun Time,” WILX-TV in Jackson, Michigan: 1962-1965
Many kids who grew up in the lower half of the Michigan Mitten – particularly in the counties of Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Livingston, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Washtenaw, and Lenawee - may very well have watched one of the most popular kid shows of the 1960s, “Tam's Fun Time” on WILX-TV, Channel 10.
Doing a story on this program is not an easy task, unless you know someone who was connected with the show. Not much has been written on it, or recorded as there don't seem to be any online video clips. Photos are rare and extremely hard to find – there isn't even any info on the online movie & TV site, IMDB.
“Tam's Fun Time” ran from the early 60s (debut year uncertain) until the time of Tam's death due to a car crash in September 1965.
Tam's real name was Robert Johnson, and recently I had the good fortune to have a chat with his son. He doesn't remember too much about his father's TV program, as he was only two years old when Tam died in 1965. Luckily, he still has that old unicycle that Tam rode every week on the show.
What I personally remember about the show was Tam's expertise at riding a unicycle during the program. He dressed somewhat like a 17th century minstrel, kids would send in their artwork, and I think he may have shown cartoons as well. The show was held in the basement of the Jackson District Library, and for those who remember the show, it's a kick to go down into the basement and see where the stage and setup was.
Tam was called “Bobby” by his family and friends, it's believed he attended MSU, and his parents were from the Detroit suburb of Clawson. A newspaper clipping reveals the show was seen on Saturday mornings at 9am, but I thought for sure I recalled seeing the program on a weekday afternoon. Mandela effect, maybe?
Robert 'Tam' Johnson is buried in the White Chapel Cemetery just off I-75 near Troy and not far from Royal Oak.
For a kid's show that is so fondly remembered by the ones lucky enough to see it, it's a shame there is not more written about it. The gallery below features images of “Tam's Fun Time”, thanks to the generosity of Richard Johnson.
Tam's Fun Time: Jackson