A television pioneer who was a fixture on the airwaves in Los Angeles going back to the early days of the medium has died. Tom Hatten died Saturday, according to media reports. He was 92.
Hatten’s career is closely linked to L.A. station KTLA, where he began his broadcasting career in 1952. He worked as a newscaster and announcer before becoming a host of children’s television shows, the role for which he is probably best remembered.
He became “Skipper Tom” in September 1956 when he began hosting “The Pier 5 Club.” Through a number of iterations of the program, including its eventual renaming as “The Popeye Show,” he dressed in a sailor’s uniform and presented cartoons, with an emphasis on Popeye and other animated classics from Max and Dave Fleischer.
One of his trademark routines was the “Squiggle,” where he would invite children from the audience to stand at an easel and draw a picture starting out with a shape that was pre-drawn on the paper. An accomplished artist, Hatten would join the kids and attempt to do his own drawing as well.
Hatten left KTLA in 1964 and the show went off the air, but he returned in 1976 and began hosting a new version of the show, “Popeye and His Friends,” which ran until 1988.
Hatten kept busy hosting KTLA’s weekend “Family Film Festival,” in which he presented classic movies.
Hatten also did some acting, including playing Captain Murdock on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” and appearing in the movie “Spies Like Us.” He also spent 20 years as an entertainment reporter for KNX 1070 Newsradio in L.A., before leaving the station in 2007.
Here’s a clip of Hatten hosting a telecast of “Munster, Go Home” for KTLA’s “Family Film Festival” in 1989 …