One in a series of evenings and special screenings presented as part of The Paley Center for Media's Inside Media events. Held at the Paley Center in New York, this evening celebrates the life and career of famed television host, executive and broadcasting consultant Sonny Fox. Host Pat Mitchell (president and CEO, The Paley Center for Media) offers opening remarks and then introduces the evening's moderator, actress and EGOT-recipient (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards) Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg takes the stage and discusses her longtime interest in Fox's shows, and then welcomes Fox to the stage.

The conversation touches on such topics as: his memories of his first meeting with Goldberg, his recent memoir "But You Made The Front Page: Wonderama, Wars and a Whole Bunch of Life"; the use of memory as a "storage space" and experience of revisiting old recollections; his youth in Flatbush and early study of textiles; his enrollment at New York University and switch to show business; his role as a correspondent in the Korean War; his first television role on the children's program "The Finder"; his "chutzpah" in acquiring a free Corvette by promising to feature it on his show; his hardest-ever job on the show "Candid Microphone," a forerunner to "Candid Camera"; the children's show "Wonderama," which he hosted from 1959-1967, and his interest in "challenging" the kids; surprisingly poignant and mature letters from young viewers; his avoidance of talking down to his young guests when conversing on-camera; the "social skills" of today's children compared to those of the past; and parents' moderation and "coddling" of their kids.

Questions from the audience then lead to a discussion of the following topics: the current resistance to programs like "Wonderama," usually for "cynical" financial reasons; his relationship with Robert Kennedy and Kennedy's multiple appearances on "Wonderama"; many kids' desire to appear on the show and the difficulty of acquiring tickets; Fox and Goldberg's shared experience in their kids' belated realization of their parents' fame; the network's "leftover McCarthy" attitudes that caused musician Pete Seeger to be banned from "Wonderama"; Fox's determination to have actor Jack Gilford on the show despite his troubles with the Hollywood blacklist; his 1955 show "Let's Take a Trip"; his "theft" of several old "Wonderama" tapes to prevent their erasure; his interest in the Paley Center's preservation of movies from "the golden age of television"; and the changes over the years in televised news. Fox then closes the evening by reading an excerpt from his memoirs, noting the many historical events and changes that have happened during his lifetime and summing up his experience as learning to "fail without being a failure."

Fox also acknowledges several co-workers and friends in the audience, including: "Wonderama" casting director Kathie Berlin; director Arthur "Artie" Forrest; co-host Penelope Coker; "Annie" composer Charles Strouse; former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth; Walter Cronkite executive producer Sanford "Sandy" Socolow; "Little Miss Sunshine" writer Michael Arndt; and other family members.

Clips featuring Fox's work are interspersed throughout the program, including: several scenes and interviews from "Wonderama," including conversations with kids; Robert Kennedy's discussion of his and his family's interest and involvement in politics; and an interview with JP Miller, also called "Pappy," author of "Days of Wine and Roses."


  • DATE: September 24, 2012 6:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:29:18
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 108392
  • GENRE: Seminars
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection - Comedy


    • Pat Mitchell … Host
    • Whoopi Goldberg … Moderator
    • Sonny Fox … Guest
    • Michael Arndt
    • Kathie Berlin
    • Penelope Coker
    • Walter Cronkite
    • Arthur Forrest
    • Jack Gilford
    • Robert F. Kennedy
    • JP Miller
    • Pete Seeger
    • Sanford Socolow
    • Charles Strouse
    • Tim Wirth