Hotel Balderdash

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A popular children’s television program in Salt Lake City, Utah, and surrounding states during the ‘70s and ‘80s—with its three zany hosts: Cannonball, Harvey, and the wacky Raymond, who performed antics and slapstick—Hotel Balderdash is back with fresh new episodes.

With an average 65 share and a 15 rating, making it the highest-rated kids show in the nation for almost 11 years, Cairngorm Studios plans to distribute 150, 60-minute shows the first year through Silver Pixel Studios in Mesa, Arizona.


A classic example of the local kids’ shows that no longer exists, the Hotel Balderdash gang—Cannonball, Harvey, Raymond, Limo Joe, Funky Bologna, Chef Carlos, Security Sam, Concierge Marci, Dan Dan the Repairman, Sir Willie William, the Banana Band, and many, many more—is now back for fun with a live studio audience, an array of original musical numbers, bits, contests, jokes, and just plain, good old-fashioned comedy for “kids of all ages.”


The show has the popular dynamic of being set in a hotel with the manager, Cannonball; the bellhop, Harvey; and the owner’s nephew, spoiled brat Raymond. Monday through Friday, Raymond continually tries to get Harvey in trouble with Cannonball, only to be caught by Cannonball at the end of the show and punished for his mischief. The live audience of children and parents will go wild trying to warn Cannonball that Harvey is a victim of circumstance, and that it was really Raymond causing the trouble. Look for many new faces at the Hotel Balderdash and special guest stars that stop by to add to the fun.


The History of Hotel Balderdash…


The show was produced at KCPX/KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City, Utah, and aired on KCPX-TV (an ABC affiliate in Salt Lake) on September 11, 1972. It was seen throughout Utah, but was also a regional show viewed in parts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. Soon after the debut of the show, the station changed its call letters to KTVX. Hotel Balderdash lasted for almost 11 years as the most popular local show of any type in the area. Fifty-five to 65% of the entire morning audience—of all ages—got up to watch this “local” children’s program.


The show originated with a nearly 2-hour format, starting at 6:45 in the morning and finishing at 8:40, followed by a 20-minute news broadcast. When ABC introduced its new morning program, AM America, to go against NBC’s Today Show, it eventually settled into an hour format (7:00-8:00 a.m.). So popular was Hotel Balderdash, with the airing of AM America, a local newspaper wrote an article wondering what KTVX would do with its “proven winner.” Of course, the station also recognized that they had a winner with Balderdash, and decided to divide the two hours of AM America—which would eventually have a name change to Good Morning, America—airing the first one at 6:00 a.m. and the second at 8:00 a.m.


Hotel Balderdash starred Larry “Cannonball” John, Randy “Harvey” Lovoi, and Charlie “Raymond” LeSueur. John and LeSueur had been given the idea for the program by popular kid’s show host Bill “Wallace” Thompson of Wallace and Ladmo fame in Phoenix, Arizona. John had known Thompson from the time the young actor had been a co-host on a popular talent show in Phoenix called Lew King's Rangers. Thompson said he had the idea for a show set in a hotel (and he suggested the Balderdash name), using the guests as the characters.


Originally, the popular jazz tune “Mississippi Mud” was the show’s theme song. When LeSueur left the show in 1976, John and Lovoi quickly adjusted and recorded two popular albums of original songs. The Hotel Balderdash theme song that is fondly remembered was on the first album (which is why there is no mention of Raymond in the song). The show’s popularity continued to soar with Harvey and Cannonball, and they even had a “Hotel Balderdash Day” declared in Utah. In fact, so strong was the popularity of these two characters that the show continued to be entertaining—although, by now, without LeSueur’s “double entendre” characters, it focused more on being strictly a children’s show. LeSueur returned to the show at various times, finally returning on more or less a permanent basis in 1979.


At its height of popularity, the characters of Harvey, Cannonball, and Raymond drew huge crowds at all of their personal appearances. At Christmastime, when they made their regular appearances at the Sears stores, Santa Claus would have to close up shop until they left, because everyone wanted to see the Balderdash Gang. A story relating to their immense popularity is the year when the storyline had Raymond kidnapping Santa Claus on a Thursday morning installment. The Friday and Monday shows had already been taped and Santa was to be saved on the Monday show. KTVX was inundated Thursday with phone calls from angry parents whose kids were terribly upset by the kidnapping. The threesome was called back Thursday night for an emergency taping session to make sure that Santa was saved by Cannonball and Harvey on Friday. Santa was saved and the kids—and their parents—were all very, very happy!