Friday, July 25, 2014

Wallace and Ladmo Show creator, Historymaker Bill Thompson passes

Bill Thompson, Ladmo Kwiatkowski, Pat McMahon
The creator, producer and co-star of "The Wallace and Ladmo Show" died July 23 at age 82. He leaves a legacy of a unique children's program filled with offbeat humor that many Arizonans grew up with.

Bill Thompson arrived in Arizona from New York in 1954 and went to work in the art department at KPHO TV. One day he volunteered to appear as a clown named “Wallace” on a children’s TV show. A month later, a cameraman, Ladmo Kwiatkowski, joined him and together they created “The Wallace and Ladmo Show.” Although Thompson scripted the shows, hilarity was compounded by improvisations created on the air. Receiving the highest ratings for its time slot, the program, after thirty-six years, became the longest running children’s television show in history.

A Civil War buff, Thompson participated in reenactments, and collects weapons, uniforms, and books on the subject. Retiring in 1990 after thirty-six years of continual television and appearances, he became known for his miniature lead toy soldiers, particularly those of the Civil War era.

Bill was honored as an Arizona Historymaker in 1992 along with co-stars Ladmo Kwiatkowski and Pat McMahon. The other 1992 Historymakers included Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, Civic Leader Robert Goldwater, Artist and Educator J. Eugene Grigsby, Jr., Artist Philip Curtis, Attorney Frank Snell, Family Circus Cartoonist Bil Keane.