Eugene Norman Yulish
June 9, 1931
|Died||January 19, 2020 (aged 88)|
- Television personality
- fashion designer
Eugene Norman Yulish (June 9, 1931 – January 19, 2020), known as Gene London, was an American television personality and fashion designer. He was the host of a long-running, Philadelphia local children's television show, Cartoon Corners (a.k.a. The Gene London Show). He starred on the children's show in the Philadelphia area on WCAU Channel 10 from 1959 to 1977, in which several cartoons, particularly those of Disney, were shown. Early programs began with London opening the door of his General store and flipping the sign to read "Open for Business." As the kids passed by London, he palmed the tops of their heads and sang the opening theme song. Once inside the General Store, London, an accomplished artist and storyteller, told stories and used a large drawing pad to illustrate key scenes and characters from the tales, as children sat around him. With little budget, he and his cast also did clever interpretations of classic novels such as She Who Must Be Obeyed and various Greek myths.
1 Earlier life
2 Show history
3 Fashion designer
4 Personal life
6 External links
Earlier in life, London aspired to be a Disney artist. An imaginative child, London recalled, "Alone in my room when all the other kids were playing ball, I'd tell myself the story, acting out all the parts, including Snow White standing by the side of the well singing, 'I'm Wishing'." On his show, London often showcased Disney cartoons and movies. London's early career included stints as a counselor at Summerdale Day Camp, just outside Philadelphia, where he taught arts and crafts and puppetry; occasional work on NBC-TV's Hi Mom! hosted by ventriloquist Shari Lewis; a cast member on the puppet show Johnny Jupiter; as Re-ject the Robot. He was also a puppeteer on some of Herb Sheldon's kids' TV shows on WABD-TV in New York City.
London would succeed Henry Burbig as the second host/performer and instructor of WABC-TV's Tinker's Workshop in 1957. He would play the character of "Tinker Tom, the Toymaker" as a big brother type, as opposed to portraying him as a grandfatherly inculcator of values.
London hosted the show from 1957 to mid-1958, when he was ousted from the program following a creative dispute with station
management. He would go on to appear semi-regularly on holiday-themed special editions of NBC-TV's Today Show with the series' first host/interviewer, Dave Garroway, during the 1959 TV season.
Originally called variously Gene London's Cartoons & Stuff, The Wonderful World of Gene London, and Cartoon Corners, the format for The Gene London Show changed over the years. At first, London worked for a general store that was located next to a confetti factory. His boss was the stingy Mr. Dibley, a.k.a. "Old Dibble-Puss" (who paid London 3½ cents per week). London's character used his imagination to try to escape his humdrum existence. A golden fleece he discovered provided him with a ready source of magic. London had a crush on his employer's daughter, Debbie Dibley. Alas, Debbie moved to Hollywood, returning him to his lonely, but imaginative situation. Later the program shifted to the haunted Quigley mansion located next door, accessible via a secret tunnel (the mansion's exterior establishing shot was just a model) with stories and plots centering on ghosts, UFOs and aliens. During this period there were a series of public service exchange programs produced by CBS. In these programs, London played a reporter whose beat coverage included stories from children (trying to improve the paper's circulation).
When Cartoon Corners was cancelled, London moved to New York City and became involved in the fashion industry as a dress designer. Until 2001, London operated a retro clothes shop called 'Gene London: The Fan Club' on Manhattan's West 19th Street. In later years, London served as a Hollywood and Broadway fashion consultant and spokesman for the Mikimoto brand of jewelry. As a hobby, London collected costumes worn by movie celebrities (some 60,000 gowns, dresses and fashion accessories).
In July 2002, at the age of 71, London exhibited more than 50 pieces of his Hollywood gown collection at "Gene London Presents: Hollywood Glamour" at the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. On May 17, 2003, he once again displayed his gowns at the 80th anniversary celebration of the Old Academy Players in Philadelphia (East Falls), PA. The exhibit included a deep red dress with plunging neckline and fur-trimmed sleeves worn by Philadelphia-bred actress Grace Kelly (a.k.a. Princess Grace of Monaco) in the Oscar-winning film The Country Girl (1954).
On October 3, 2009 the Reading Public Museum (Reading, PA) opened "The Magic of Hollywood: the Gene London Costume Collection", featuring more than 100 gowns and costumes.
On November 20, 2009, London was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's Hall of Fame.
London married his partner of 39 years, John Thomas, in 2016. The couple had homes in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
London died on January 19, 2020, at age 88, after suffering a fall.
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