Stan Boreson


Multiple choice. See if you can identify the source of the following words:

“Zero dacus, mucho cracus/hallaballuza bub…”
The famous coda is,
a) The play Pete Carroll wishes he had called in Super Bowl XLIX.
b) The sentence immediately following, “I am Ishmael.”
c) A 3 am presidential tweet.
d) Part of the password phrase at KING’s Klubhouse.
Those of you who chose ‘d’—give yourself a cookie. A lutefisk cookie.

Local folks of a certain age (a certain age that increasingly requires carbon dating to determine) fondly remember KING’S Klubhouse. It was a kids’ show that aired for an amazing two decades on Channel 5. It seemed the natural choice. KOMO and KIRO wouldn’t air a show called KING’s Klubhouse.

The show was not an educational program. The spelling of ‘Klubhouse’ is evidence of that. But the central star of the show was an immensely talented, instantly likeable man named Stan Boreson, whose daily mission was to bring smiles through song and general silliness. It was exactly what kids in the 50’s and 60’s were looking for—and what people in their 60’s and 70’s still remember so fondly.

Growing up in Everett, Boreson later attended the UW to study business. But rather than move on to a career as an accordion-playing accountant—or a joke-telling actuary—he wound up becoming a full-time musician, recording artist—and TV pioneer.

Before political correctness became the law of the land, Stan Boreson’s forte’ was Scandinavian humor. (‘Forte’ is a French word meaning ‘shtick.’) Example:

LARS: “Vhen (When) is your birthday, Ole?”
OLE: “July 27th.”
LARS: “Vhat year?”
OLE: “Every year.”

A friend of mine once said, “You know what the definition of an optimist is? An accordion player with a pager.” Yet, Stan Boreson took a somewhat un-sexy instrument and made it cool—and put himself in big demand. Using his “Stomach Steinway” the young musician entertained every one from World War II military troops—to dance halls and campus gatherings. And unlike later rock music acts, he never ended his show by setting his accordion on fire.

When KING TV was looking for some programming in 1949—and Jerry Springer was not quite ready—Boreson was tapped to do a show. Eventually it lead to the 1954 debut of a new kids show, KING’s Klubhouse—where Boreson held forth as himself (very convincing) and other recurring characters like Uncle Torvald—and Grandma Torvald (Boreson in drag—when it was popular for grown men to do so.) His TV sidekick, Doug Setterberg, played most all the other crazy characters.

Also on the set—that is, the ‘Klubhouse’—was a nearly immobile basset hound, played by a nearly immobile basset hound. A popular hydroplane boat of the time was called the Slo-Mo-Shun IV—so the dog was named “No-Mo-Shun” or “No-Mo.” His job was simply to remain still and do nothing. If KING’s Klubhouse was on the air nowadays, the dog might have been named “Big Bertha.”

One of Seattle’s top TV directors, Steve Wilson (Almost Live, The, Up Late Northwest and many more) recalls seeing his first live TV broadcast in person at the World’s Fair in 1962. “I was six years old—and it was The Stan Boreson Show (as KING’s Klubhouse had by then been renamed).”

“Not only was I in awe of being that close to someone who entertained me on TV,” says
Wilson, “but witnessing the entire process of the camera, the lights and the technicians completely mesmerized me.” He says that single event entirely influenced his choice of career. So when Wilson finally landed a job at KING TV years later, he came up with—and then produced—a special called The Stan Boreson Christmas Reunion. It aired again and again for the next 12 years.

Boreson’s daily show ended in 1967, but the music, singing and corny jokes did not.

He performed everywhere—occasionally with his real-life friend, Chris Wedes—the same fellow better known as J.P. Patches—host of a kids show on another channel across town. They claimed they never stole scripts from each other—although they admitted that if they ever had HAD scripts, they might have.
With the passing last week of Stan Boreson at age 91, the Northwest lost yet another of its dwindling supply of local TV icons—and another big piece of its history.

My all-time favorite Stan joke does not even feature Scandinavian characters. It goes something like this:
“A little boy has been tossed out of many schools for always making trouble and not doing his homework. In a last ditch effort toward discipline, his parents send him to a catholic school. After his first day, the little boy comes straight home, directly into his bedroom, shuts his door and immediately starts doing his homework. His surprised mother says to him, “I’ve never seen you do your homework before. What happened at school today?” The boy replies nervously, “Well, when I walked into that school—and saw a statue of what they did to that Jesus guy—I KNEW that those people meant business!”

Zero dacus, mucho cracus, Mr. Boreson.