Francis Joseph Felton
Happy Felton was a musician and television and radio personality who hosted the very popular show Happy Felton's Knothole Gang which preceded telecasts of Brooklyn Dodgers games.
He was a big band leader and emcee of musical programs in the 1930s, and also tried his luck in theater, even appearing in a couple of Broadway productions, neither of them being a success. He found his niche in radio, as the host of musical and comedy programs and later of quiz shows. He also had a knack for working with children and in 1949 pitched the idea of pre-game show aimed at a young audience and featuring young fans to Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley. The proposal was accepted and the first installment of Happy Felton's Knothouse Gang aired on April 21, 1950. Each show featured three young ballplayers from the area who would compete to impress one of the Dodgers' players with their baseball skills, all the while receiving instruction. The winner would then get to pick a player he would get to meet one-on-one. It was all family-oriented, and Felton, who acted as emcee of the show, quickly established a large fan club of youngsters who wanted to get on the show. The program aired until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, CA after the 1957 season. Being broadcast in the media capital of America, it became very well known, although few episodes have survived and with the passing of time, Felton has become largely forgotten.
He continued to work in show business after the Dodgers' departure, but had mostly bit parts, and never another hit as big as his baseball show.
- Rob Edelman: "The Many Faces of Happy Felton", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 46, Nr. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 23-29.