Frantz the Toymaker
The man we all came to love as Frantz the Toymaker was born at the old St. Ann’s Hospital in Cleveland. Ray went to South High (Class of ’57) and spent a year at Kent State before entering the Army. While in the Army he was stationed in Alabama and Georgia where he trained the troops. When he left the Army after 2 years, Ray came home and worked for a few years before he made his way back to school. He enrolled at THE Ohio State University, studying Theater, and stayed 3 and a half years, just short of graduating. While at OSU, he also worked at a Columbus TV station. He was a combination floor director and grip and also built all of the scenery for shows and sets for the news teams. There was a children’s show airing at the time, Lucy’s Toy Shop, which was very popular with the kids, but it needed some juice. “The host needed someone to talk to and play off of” so the program manager asked Ray to go on the show as a sidekick to Lucy. Ray accepted the challenge and Frantz the Toymaker was born. Frantz was a big hit and he eventually had his own Saturday morning show while still floor directing and building sets. Ray brought the show to Cleveland and was on the air from 1970-1976. The show was taken off the air because of a new FCC regulation that “no children’s program could be associated with a commercial product”. Frantz the Toymaker was experiencing higher ratings than ever before, with 48-51% of available audience. Yet the new regulations took him off the air. “I tried to treat the kids like little people who haven’t learned yet, not like little idiots. It was one of the tenets of my show.” His time in Cleveland television may have been short, but it had a lasting impression on all of us who grew up with him.
“Be good and schmile at everybody”-Frantz the Toymaker.