Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clif St. James, Known to Many as Corky the Clown, Has Died

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clif St. James, Known to Many as Corky the Clown, Has Died

Article excerpt

"Corky the Clown" is gone.

Clif St. James known to countless St. Louis area baby boomers as the big-eared jovial clown who hosted a children's cartoon show for three decades died Friday (Dec. 9, 2016) of pneumonia at St. Luke's Hospital. He was 91.

Mr. St. James was a longtime resident of Webster Groves.

"I don't think I ever heard him say a bad word about anyone," said his son, Chip St. James. "And in the TV business, that's saying something."

Mr. St. James was born June 3, 1925, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the oldest of three children. His family moved to Honeoye Falls, N.Y., where his father owned a small advertising agency.

He joined the Army in 1943, serving with the 591st field artillery battalion of the 106th Infantry Division in northern France and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge.

"I was 18 years old, and I was assigned to be radioman for a forward artillery observer," Mr. St. James said in an interview in 2001.

"It was an awfully scary thing, especially when your observer is killed on your first night out," he said. "I learned what it is like to have it be open season on you. You were fair game for the enemy."

In Germany, he also helped put on shows for the troops and found that he loved performing. So when he was discharged in 1946, he enrolled at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

While at Eastman, he met his wife, a St. Louis native named Nance Babcock. They were married in 1948 and for a time, they did a husband-wife routine on the air.

Nance St. James, who survives her husband, also was a popular voice for years in St. Louis.

In the early 1950s, he came to St. Louis to work at KWK and KSD radio stations. Two years later, he took a job as a freelance announcer at KSD-TV, the only TV station in town at the time.

Mr. St. James began hosting "Corky the Clown" in 1954 and stayed until 1980. It was one of the highest-rated local children's shows in the U.S. In 1966, it became "Corky's Colorama" and was the first show in St. Louis to be broadcast in color, which is why Corky sometimes had a green or blue face. …

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